Skunk Anansie - Stoosh
Who the f**k are they?
Never heard of them.
(They have a shaven headed black lesbian as a singer)
Oh, right. Now I know who you’re talking about.
Such is the usual substance of a conversation about Skunk Anansie. People who know them usually regard them as being either OK but nothing special or a sort of guilty pleasure, only to be owned up to with embarrassment under intense pressure. So, over fifteen years since this album came out, is it not time for a reappraisal?
When it came out, Yes It’s F**king Political was regarded as controversial and somewhat shocking. But take out the “F” word and it’s actually rather tame. What stands out now is not the swearing (“big f**king deal” I say to myself) or the rather obvious sentiments, but the voice. That line, and its follow up in the refrain, are literally spat out, with a venom which is not easy to find elsewhere. And this is at the heart of what Skunk Anansie were all about. In a word, Skin.
She was the band, the be-all and the end-all of it. The rest of the band were there to wrap music around her voice, but they were not really to the front. Skin sang from the heart and drew you into it. Just listen to the very personal account of bullying on Pickin’ On Me or the way she begins by mocking the other party in Brazen (Weep) and ends up hoping the other party will have the courage to last through the humiliation. These songs pull right at you, tug your conscience and defy you not to react with an empathic response. After over two decades of snarling, sneering young men ranting on about the injustice in the world, it was rather refreshing to hear an angry young woman ranting about the injustice in her world.
Of course, that voice is not just used for emotional purposes. Skin’s ability to switch octaves with such rapidity delivers in places songs with such a punch, such an infectious hook line that they seem to beg you to imitate, or at least to sing along. And in spite of the fact you know you can’t do it – match her range that is – you will still try. Tell me, how many other bands can make you do that? Honestly?
Perhaps that’s why so many people either deride or deny them. Skunk Anansie make you feel things you don’t want to feel and do things you don’t want to do. It might not be ‘art’, but who cares. The band were not out to change the world. Skin sang some damn good songs and sang them a lot better than many pop-warblettes of her or any other generation. So stop putting the band down and give them the credit they really deserve. Dust off that CD, listen to it and admit it – you like it.
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