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Babes in Toyland
Origin Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Genres Punk rock, grunge, alternative rock
Years active 1987–1997
Labels Twin Tone Records, Southern Records, Strange Fruit Records, Reprise Records, Insipid Records
Associated acts Katastrophy Wife
Members
Kat Bjelland
Lori Barbero
Maureen Herman

Babes in Toyland were an American punk rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1987. Between 1989 and 1995 the band recorded three studio albums, and were associated with grunge music. Members included Kat Bjelland (lead vocals and guitar), Lori Barbero (drums) and Michelle Leon (bass), who was replaced by Maureen Herman in 1992.

Contents

Biography

In its initial formation in 1987, in addition to Bjelland and Barbero, the band included Chris Holetz on bass and singer Cindy Russell.[1] After Holetz and Russell left, the band briefly had Courtney Love on bass, after which Michelle Leon joined as bassist.[1]

The band achieved notoriety through Bjelland's "baby doll" image—sometimes referred to as the kinderwhore look—which contrasted dramatically with the raw power of her singing voice and her aggressive lyrics. Babes in Toyland released their first album, Spanking Machine in 1990 and toured Europe with Sonic Youth that fall.[2]

The band's first major label album, Fontanelle, sold around 200,000 copies. The lead song on the album, "Bruise Violet," is said to be an attack on Courtney Love of Hole: "You see the stars through eyes lit up with lies/You got your stories all twisted up in mine." (Love is a former bandmate of Bjelland's.)[3] However, in a recent interview Bjelland has denied this, saying instead that "Violet" was the name of a muse to both her and Courtney. The song's video was shown on Beavis and Butt-Head, where the band was described as "chicks" who are "cool." [4]

The band was picked to take part in the 1993 Lollapalooza tour.[5]

While the band was inspirational to many performers in the riot grrrl movement, they never participated directly.

The band was the subject of the 1994 book Babes in Toyland: The Making and Selling of a Rock and Roll Band by Neal Karlen, which dealt with the band's signing to Warner and the recording of Fontanelle.[6] (Bjelland described the book as being "like cartoon caricatures of us," while Herman said that Karlen "would make a great fiction writer"--Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 18, 1994.) The band also appears in the 1992 documentary 1991: The Year Punk Broke and was featured in the 1995 documentary Not Bad for a Girl.[7]

On April 8, 1994, Babes in Toyland played a benefit show for Rock Against Domestic Violence with 7 Year Bitch, and Jack Off Jill in Miami at the Cameo Theater, the same day lead-singer of American grunge rock band Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, had been found dead in his Seattle home.[8]

Babes were featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and were referenced in an episode of the sitcom Roseanne as well as an episode of Absolutely Fabulous.

The band split and reformed throughout the 1990s, losing their record label when Herman left the band in 1996. Dana Cochrane, formerly of the band Mickey Finn, played bass with the band on live gigs in 1996.[9] Leon briefly rejoined for a short period in 1997. In 1998, the band was credited with the song Overtura: Astroantiquity/Attacatastrophy on the CD Songs of the Witchblade: A Soundtrack to the Comic Book, which Bjelland co-produced. Bjelland and Barbero played with a new bassist, Jessie Farmer, in 2000.[10] But a year earlier, Bjelland had formed a new band, Katastrophy Wife, which seemed to replace Babes as her main vehicle. Babes in Toyland (with Farmer on bass) played a reunion show billed as "The Last Tour" on November 21, 2001—released as a live album called Minneapolism--and this seems to be the last official Babes activity; Bjelland played some shows in Europe in 2002 as Babes in Toyland with a new drummer and bassist from the British band Angelica, but stopped using the name after Barbero and Herman raised legal issues.[11]

Members

Previous Members

  • Cindy Russell - vocals[1]
  • Chris Holetz - bass[1]
  • Courtney Love - bass[1]
  • Michelle Leon - bass[1]
  • Jessie Farmer – bass
  • Dana Cochrane – bass[9]
  • Maggie Dunne – bass

Discography

Studio albums and EPs

Year Title Type Label US Sales
1989 Spanking Machine Studio album Twin Tone Records 70,000
1990 To Mother EP Southern Records 50,000
1992 Fontanelle Studio album Reprise Records 220,000
1993 Painkillers EP 60,000
1995 Nemesisters Studio album 150,000

Compilation albums

Year Title Type
1992 The Peel Sessions Strange Fruit Records
1994 Dystopia Insipid Records
2000 Lived Almafame
Devil
Viled
Natural Babe Killers Recall Records
2001 Collectors Item Digimode Entertainment
The Further Adventures of Babes In Toyland Fuel 2000 Records
2004 The Best of Babes In Toyland and Kat Bjelland Warner Music Records

Singles

Year Title Album Label
1989 Dust Cake Boy Spanking Machine Treehouse Records
1990 House (None) Sub Pop
1991 Handsome and Gretel Fontanelle Insipid Records
1992 Bruise Violet Southern Records
1993 Catatonic To Mother Insipid Records
1995 Sweet '69 Nemesisters Reprise Records
We Are Family Nemesisters

Chart positions

Year Single Chart Peak Position
1995 "Sweet '69" Modern Rock Tracks 37
We Are Family Hot Dance Music/Club Play 22

1991's "To Mother" hit #1 on the British Indie Albums chart. It peaked at #1 for 12 weeks.

1992's "Fontanelle" peaked at #24 on the British Top 75 Albums chart in 1992.

Other contributions

Year Title Album Label
1989 "Watching Girl" Every Band Has A Shonen Knife Who Loves Them Giant Records
1991 "Handsome & Gretel" Indie Top 20 Volume 13 Beechwood Music
"Ripe" New Season - The Peel Sessions Strange Fruit
"Flesh Crawl" Teriyaki Asthma Vols. I-V C/Z Records
House The Grunge Years Sub Pop Records
1992 Handsome & Gretel Best Of Independent Beechwood Music
Sometimes Volume 4 Volmume
1993 Dirty Milk for Pussy Mad Queen Records
Dust Cake Boy Sonic Youth In 1991: The Year Punk Broke (VHS) Geffen Home Video
1994 Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft If I Were A Carpenter A&M Records
Say What You Want S.F.W.
1995 Sweet '69 Alternative Final Mix 11 Warner Music
More, More, More Spirit Of '73: Rock For Choice 550 Music
Sweet '69 Triple J: This Is Twelve - Too Louder Compilation Australian Broadcasting Corporation
1996 Handsome & Gretel (Live) Volume Fourteen - Reading '95 Special Volume
1998 Overtura: Astroantiquity Songs Of The Witchblade Dreamworks

Bibliography

Year Title Author Label
1991 'Babes in Toyland Lyric Book Babes in Toyland Twin Tone Records
1994 The Making & Selling of a Rock & Roll Band Neal Karlen Avon Books

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Gaar, Gillian (2002). She's a Rebel (2 ed.). Seal Press. pp. 389. ISBN 9781580050784. http://books.google.com/books?id=m09vjqEmeX4C&pg=PA389.  
  2. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/babesintoyland/biography
  3. ^ http://www.trouserpress.com/entry.php?a=babes_in_toyland
  4. ^ http://www.beavis-butthead.ru/yellow_articles_episode.html
  5. ^ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,978840,00.html
  6. ^ http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,303328,00.html
  7. ^ "Not Bad for a Girl" film.com
  8. ^ Baker, Greg. [1] "The Hits Just Keep on Coming" Miami New Times, April 06, 1994.
  9. ^ a b Groebner, Simon Peter (1996-07-10), "MMA Cribsheet", City Pages, http://www.citypages.com/1996-07-10/music/mma-cribsheet/, retrieved 2009-12-10  
  10. ^ St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 24, 2000
  11. ^ Scholtes, Peter (2002-03-20), "Babes in Conflict", City Pages, http://www.citypages.com/2002-03-20/music/babes-in-conflict/, retrieved 2009-12-10  

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