photo & text by nacrowe
FEVER IN FEVER OUT (GRAND ROYAL, 1996) by LUSCIOUS JACKSON was out for a few years before i first heard it while washing dishes my freshman year of high school. the boarding school i was at actually made our parents sign off on some waiver to dismiss federal child labor laws in order for us to do manual labor at the school. some students got farm work, others food preparation or light janitorial duties. i got dishwashing for four hours twice a week. and im not complaining in the least. it was pretty cool in retrospect because you really developed an appreciation for manual work and having various janitors, cooks and farmhands being your direct supervisor. you have to remember that kids who went to my school were the sons and daughters of national politicians, heads of industry and even foreign royalty. nobody complained and it kept most of us in check.
so i was loading dishes with someone apparently in line to the throne of QATAR when over the white noise hum of the industrial dishwasher i heard "NAKED EYE" the first time. i have a vivid memory of that.
obviously LUSCIOUS JACKSON get lumped in at times with the BEASTIE BOYS due to the fact that they were signed to their GRAND ROYAL record label and that their drummer KATE SCHELLENBACH was a founding member of the HIP HOP group itself. aesthetically there is a definite lineage in their sound with NYC HIP HOP just in terms of feel and construction. lots of sampling and found sound interweaving between break beats and guitar-based textures. there approach always came off as a aural collage of sorts. think of the ODELAY (DGC, 1996) record by BECK or the BEASTIE BOYS' ILL COMMUNICATION (GRAND ROYAL, 1994) as a reference. for me what made this album standout were its striking melodies and the sense of interplay between the poly-harmonies created by JILL CUNNIFF, GABRIELLE GLASER and VIVIAN TRIMBLE. songs like "UNDER YOUR SKIN" and "WHY DO I LIE?" specifically. there is also a jazzy, almost psychedelic use of unique instrumentation (xylophones, woodwinds, etc.) on "MOOD SWING" and "WATER YOUR GARDEN" that combined with the aforementioned elements really makes this album a journey of sorts.
sadly by the time of its follow-up ELECTRIC HONEY (GRAND ROYAL, 1999), keyboardist TRIMBLE had departed leaving them with a more raw sound. for me though this is the record i turn to when i need to relax and just drift. the textures and harmonies with just an sheen of urban sophistication makes this a record well worth seeking out and revisiting more than 20 years later.