Phranc (Suzy Gottlieb) was the songwriter who started the whole acoustic folk revival of the
late 1980s, that spilled over into the 1990s.
Phranc embodies the historic meaning of that movement because she was
a punkette before she became a folk singer.
She emerged from the punk and industrial scene of Los Angeles with the
Nervous Gender, whose album Music from Hell (Subterranean, 1982)
remains one of the most underrated masterpieces of the era.
The music was everything but folk: excruciating synthesizer distortions,
wild tape manipulations, cacophonous collages, etc.
She also played in more conventional punk-rock bands (Catholic Discipline and
She became the first singer songwriter to rediscover acoustic folk with
the aptly-titled Folksinger (Rhino, 1985).
Her protest themes and her openly homosexual confessions
earned her the
nickname of "all-american jewish-lesbian folksinger".
While the tradition is that of Joan Baez and Phil Ochs, the attitude
of her angry young anthems
(Carolyn, Ballad Of The Dumb Hairdresser,
Female Mud Wrestling)
is fiercely and proudly punk.
Take Off Your Swastika appears on
I Enjoy Being A Girl (Island, 1989), although it was written when
she was still in punk bands.
The sarcasm of Toy Time and Rodeo Parakeet, not to mention the
political awareness of Bloodbath, is already
a different voice from the bitter rant of the debut.
While she had become the prophetess of the riot-grrrrls movement (and
eventually moved to its capital, Olympia), her
recording career was developing slowly and did not amount to (artistically)
Positively (Island, 1991) features Outta Here, her AIDS requiem,
and I'm Not Romantic, her poppiest moment.
The covers work better than the original material, though, signaling the
feeble musical skills of the songwriter.
The EP Goofyfoot (Kill Rock Stars, 1995) contains only two originals,
of which Bulldagger Swagger was already on a previous single.
Milkman (Phancy, 1999) is an honest and simple collection of songs
that only fail to entertain.
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