BABES IN TOYLAND: PAINKILLERS (1993)
1) He's My Thing; 2) Laredo; 3) Istigkeit; 4) Ragweed; 5) Angel Hair; 6) Fontanellette.
The album cover explicitly suggests some trashy immediate link to Fontanelle, which there is: nominally, this is an EP consisting of outtakes from the Fontanelle sessions (so the two relate to each other just like Spanking Machine related To Mother, pardon the involuntary rhyming), except that they also tack on a mini-live session — ʽFontanelletteʼ, recorded at CBGB's in April 1992, contains ten selections from Fontanelle squeezed inside one 34-minute track on the CD. Altogether, that makes up for a 50-minute listening experience, so the real meaning of the «EP» tag in this particular case is «Extra Pay» (for something quite superfluous).
The «original outtakes» are a rather confused bunch. There is a re-recording of ʽHe's My Thingʼ with somewhat better production than on the original, and with the same wildness level, but without any particularly reasonable point. There is ʽLaredoʼ, a fairly punchy riff-rocker with a fun «surf-grunge» lead line throughout; it could have made a good addition to Fontanelle, replacing one of its slower, more boring numbers. ʽIstigkeitʼ, however, is one of those slow, boring numbers, whose ethereal falsetto harmonies are just enough out of tune to confirm that Bjelland should firmly stick to roaring, never «cooing». ʽAngel Hairʼ is a bunch of unmemorable noise, as uninspired and generic as they come.
Biggest surprise of the bunch is the obligatory Lori Barbero vocal spotlight — as usual, I was prepared for the worst, but ʽRagweedʼ is actually a surprise: alternating broken strings of notes and percussion blasts, over which Barbero, beatnik-style, flings brief recited sequences of words, followed by a fast-paced psychedelic section with buzzing intertwined guitars and a femme-fatale style, icy chorus. Throughout, Lori does not even try to sing, and it works — her spoken-word «dominatrix» tone is far more convincing that way. Consequently, ʽRagweedʼ vies for attention with ʽLaredoʼ, first time in Barbero history.
The live performance boasts decent-quality recording and, since the songs are all fresh, genuine excitement at being able to donate the vibe to a small, hip New York crowd. But since the Babes never really hold it off in the studio, there is not much hope to see them get even wilder live — and meticulous comparison of the studio Fontanelle with the live ʽFontanelletteʼ is a sport that should be restricted only for the most loyal admirers of Kat Bjelland. At least they have the good sense not to play ʽQuiet Roomʼ — the live set omits most of the «moody» numbers, concentrating on rip-roar. And considering that the Babes would never have that much rip-roar again, it might seem nice to have this extra souvenir.