True heirs of [B]The Stooges[/B]' unvarnished tumult, [B]Babes[/B]' legacy demands your investigation....

Queens of the nerve-rattling, spazzed-out shriek,[a]Babes In Toyland[/a]’s records never quite matched the atonal fury of their live shows. Too caustic and unhinged to join the orgy of crossover invoked by grunge, this posthumous live album is nevertheless evidence of the gloriously free-form punk-rock spirit that shames most ‘extreme’ groups recording today.

Even in the context of late-’80s hardcore, Babes perennially stalked unfriendly territory. Songs, such as they were, would consist of rumbling, half-formed riffs and bassist/vocalist Kat Bjelland‘s unintelligible grunts and howls (Bjelland was previously a member of Sugar Baby Doll, who infamously also featured L7‘s Jennifer Finch and a certain Courtney Love). Live, they were even rawer, looser – ‘Handsome + Gretel’ and an exhilaratingly gonzo ‘He’s My Thing’ are junkyard symphonies of stabbing guitar and guttural vocals, forever on the edge of collapse. And Babes retained their menace, their fire, even when they eased off on the frenzy: Lori Barbero‘s molten croon, on a molasses-slow ‘Dogg’, is unsettlingly intense.

Ocean Colour Scene fans will consider this album an affront to their hi-fis. Those who see musical prowess merely as a means to expression, however, will find much to savour here. True heirs of The Stooges‘ unvarnished tumult, Babes‘ legacy demands your investigation.