Turkuaz drummer Michelangelo Carubba has put together an awesome lineup of musicians to pay tribute to Alanis Morissette‘s classic album Jagged Little Pill on Friday, February 17th at NYC venue American Beauty. Joining Carubba will be Trey Anastasio Band’s Jennifer Hartswick, fellow Turkuaz members and vocalists Shira Elias and Sammi Garett, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds leading lady Arleigh Kincheloe, along with guitarist Sasha Brown, Nth Power bassist Nate Edgar, and fellow Turkuaz bandmates Craig Brodhead (guitar) filling out the rest of the band. Purchase tickets here. We decided to look back at the album in this latest Live for Live Music feature.
The early to mid-90’s were arguably one of the strongest periods of music since the late 60’s and early 70’s, and easily the best period since. The grunge and alternative rock scenes were dominated by male-fronted groups like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, the Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against the Machine, and the list goes on.
Of course, there were definitely some female-fronted groups such as The Cranberries, Veruca Salt, Hole, Natalie Merchant, and an on the rise No Doubt that were important acts and could definitely hold their own against their male counterparts. But it wasn’t until a 21-year old Canadian by the name of Alanis Morissette released Jagged Little Pill in June of 1995 that the proverbial rug was ripped out from under the male-dominated bands’ feet, as she went on to annihilate all the misconceptions of female musicians during that particular era.
Like Joan Jett, Ani DiFranco, and other powerful songstresses that came before her, Morissette was unapologetic in every way, shape, or form possible. But, unlike those artists, Morissette seemingly struck a chord that saw the trajectory of her career skyrocket overnight, launching her into an echelon not reached by many ever, man or woman. As Los Angeles-based rock station KROQ began spinning “You Oughta Know,” she went from a Canadian pop star to a worldwide phenomenon, the voice of an entire generation of females.
After the relative failure of her second album Now Is The Time (compared to the success she had on her debut album Alanis) and being released from her label, it was decided that she would make a move to Toronto and eventually head to Los Angeles to work with producer Glen Ballard. Ballard had quite the resume of his own, as he had produced and performed with everyone from Michael Jackson to Van Halen, and Wilson Phillips to No Doubt. The two hit it off at his studio and went on a veritable writing binge.
The songs that came out of that session were a clear deviation from the dance-pop leanings of her earlier work, and witnessed Morissette foraging ahead into a more personal territory expressing raw emotions of anger, frustration, questioning, and female sexuality. She explored themes of “religious hypocrisy, jealousy, parental expectations, drinking, mental illness, co-dependence, the patriarchy, friendship, self-esteem, infidelity and on,” as Lucy Jones wrote in her 2014 NME article, Jagged Little Pill is an amalgamation of what every single one of us goes through at some point in life, more or less.
As Ballard brought The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea and then-member Dave Navarro in to provide bass and guitar, respectively, on “You Oughta Know,” a mega-hit was in the making. The second-best major-label debut single of the ‘90s, behind Nirvana‘s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” featured a ripping vocal cadence from Morissette to go along with a funk-fueled bassline. And if you re-listen to “Hand In My Pocket,” it is more humorous than anything else. It’s Morissette coming to terms with and admitting to experiencing some basic contradictions that we face every day.
“Mary Jane” is a deep cut, with some truly impressive vocals that soar alongside the music. And what else could possibly be said about “Ironic” that hasn’t already been expounded on time and time again? It is her highest rated single, and has invited more discussions about the actual definition of “ironic,” and if Morissette was using it correctly, than the word actually deserves. There was no holding back on Jagged Little Pill, as far as lyrical content was concerned. A 21-year old woman laid it all out on the table for tens of millions of people to critique, which inevitably happened, and while there were plenty of critics, she came out on top.
There is a reason the album went 16x-platinum, won a handful of Grammy‘s and other awards. It’s not just a good album, it is a great one that stands up against any album from the 90’s, period. Fun fact: Did you know Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters fame was the drummer for Morissette’s entire 18-month world tour in support of Jagged Little Pill? Well, now you do.
Upon first reaction to the album, many people typically use one word: angry. To pigeonhole the album that way takes away from the myriad of emotions Morissette explores and, quite literally, goes through on Jagged Little Pill. The album is a number of short stories about growing up, and experiencing the many hurdles life has to offer, in general. Who needs to apologize or be critiqued about that?
Jagged Little Pill is hands down, one of the most important album by any female artist ever. It is influential, timeless, and could very easily go up against any of her male contemporaries’ albums.
[sources used: Billboard / NME / Stereogum]
For show information and additional updates on the Tribute to Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill with members of Turkuaz, Trey Anastasio Band, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, and the Nth Power, check out the Facebook Event page here.