Betty Blowtorch singes
male-run music world
By Ellen Simonson
Daily Cougar Staff
It's an indisputable fact that popular
music needs more women who can rock, and Betty Blowtorch would like to
be those women.
The band is comprised of four ladies: Bianca
Butthole, Sharon Needles, Judy Molish and Blare N. … umm, Witch.
The band's debut release, Are You Man Enough?,
is full of angry vocals, power chords and Guns N' Roses-esque solos (understandable,
as Guns N' Roses'
Duff McKagan produced one of its earlier
The stereotypical female musician generally
sings about one thing: love. It makes sense, then, that Betty Blowtorch
generally sings about one thing as well:
Rarely, if ever, has a female voice delivered
such raunchy lyrics.
The first song on the album, "Hell on Wheels,"
features the memorable lyric "We're in the band, all we want is a one-night
stand," and it gets dirtier from there.
By "Size Queen," Bianca Butthole is telling
the world exactly what she wants in a man: "I don't have time for little
boys/ I want a man with man-size toys."
Thankfully, Vanilla Ice (and you thought
he was dead) steps in to help her out: "Yo, I'm Vanilla Ice and I'll be
your dream/ So won't you open up your legs and I'll
make you …"
Any band that would have Vanilla Ice guest-star
on its album to talk about the size of his unit must be somewhat out of
the ordinary, and Betty Blowtorch most
definitely is. Most of that originality,
though, is in the lyrics, which are almost invariably lewd and oscillate
between descriptions of how awesome the band
members are and descriptions of how much
the band members like sex.
Most of the time this is strangely appealing,
especially when it's done tongue-in-cheek, as most of it is. "Shut Up and
…" features lyrics that would put N.W.A. to
shame -- "I don't want conversation/ I
just want penile penetration," Bianca sings at one point. It's dirty, but
it's funny, and heaven knows it's about time the world
had some equal-opportunity objectification.
Besides, the obvious joy these women take
in being more obscene than you thought possible is somewhat infectious.
It's not only obscenity Betty Blowtorch
handles well, however. Occasionally the band shows off its ability to play
soft and sweet, and when it does, the contrast is
so intense it's surprising the sounds
are coming from the same band.
Touches of this pop sensibility can be
found on songs like "No Integrity," with a pretty melody reminiscent of
near-forgotten chick bands like Bananarama and
the Bangles. "I'm Ugly and I Don't Know
Why" is another good example of the band's sensitive side; while the music
is harder, the lyrics are a surprisingly
sensitive exploration of gender relations.
Betty Blowtorch's music isn't quite groundbreaking,
but it's delivered more than competently. Imagine the big rock riffs of
AC/DC crossed with the grunge-punk
of L7 and you have a pretty good idea
of the band's sound.
Each of the women is quite talented; Bianca
Butthole's voice especially is a nice surprise, strong and loud without
Blare N.'s work on lead guitar is excellent,
and Sharon Needles' riffs sound like any 13-year-old boy who ever locked
himself in his room dreaming of being the
next Ozzy Osbourne.
The band fits squarely into the "hard rock"
category, although it has its share of punk influences. All the members
but Molish were in a punk band called Butt
Trumpet, which was signed to EMI. But
that band quickly found itself being molded to a more conventional image.
Thus, Betty Blowtorch.
The band may not have invented its genre,
but it works well within it. Fans of Guns N' Roses, early Black Sabbath
and even Soundgarden will probably enjoy
Are You Man Enough? to no end. And maybe
little girls who hear this album will be inclined to quit listening to
boys play music, pick up their own Stratocaster
Are You Man Enough?
*** (out of five stars)