BABES IN TOYLAND by Neal Karlen

BABES IN TOYLAND

The Making and Selling of a Rock and Roll Band
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A tour of the contemporary pop music industry with one of America's most promising new bands, whose three members happen to be women. A nail-spitting punk trio of potential long-term influence that reserves the right to be both attractive and assertive, Babes in Toyland is one of the first all-female rock groups to earn widespread renown. Former Rolling Stone editor Karlen documents the Babes' pursuit of both fame and punk rigor; their long nights on the road; their difficulties with record execs, hangers-on, and one another. He also peeks into the world of enigmatic A&R man Tim Carr, who brought the Babes to Warner Music, then struggled to win them attention with a minuscule ad budget in a climate in which MTV's Beavis and Butt-head are the ultimate arbiters of cool. Karlen is sometimes more interested in his subjects' reputation than in their talent, so the content of their music gets scant attention; almost no lyrics are offered, despite the author's assertion that lead singer Kat Bjelland is a poet. But he's lucky- -the three Babes are intriguing women: Lori Barbero, the first female drummer embraced by rock's mostly male establishment; the orphaned, waifish Bjelland, whose performances resemble primal therapy; and Michelle Leon, a brainy 19-year-old whose boyfriend's murder, recounted here, causes her to leave the band. All three (and Maureen Herman, Leon's replacement) are role models for a new generation of female musicians intent on making a place for women in rock 'n' roll. Karlen's hyper-rhetoric sometimes intrudes, but he isn't oblivious to the ironies in Warner's effort to sell the Babes without sacrificing their street credibility. Recommended for moms and dads whose daughters want to grow up to be rock musicians--and (of course) their rockin' daughters. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-8129-2058-9
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1994




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