City Paper is not for tourists
Salt-n-Pepa’s emphatic “Ain’tNuthin’ But a She Thing,” a rallying cry that asserts, “It’s a she thing/And it’s all in me/I can be anything that I wanna be,” dominates this feminist-theme compilation. None of the other tracks can touch the title song for outspokenness (or hit potential), but the artists’ names alone advertise pro-women sensibilities. Annie Lennox contributes “Mama,” a slow burn with a trembling, didgeridoo-hum background and percussion that suggests rising wind against metal chimes; Sinéad O’Connor, to understated string backup, offers an Irish women’s traditional so gentle that the hush that follows seems part of the music. Not every track fits the compilation’s go-girl formula: Melissa Etheridge’s cover of Joan Armatrading’s “The Weakness in Me,” a song about cheating on a lover, includes the unempowering lyric “are you so strong/Or is all the weakness in me?” Yet Etheridge beautifully conveys heartbreak to spare piano accompaniment; minimalist piano is also used on “Don’t Smoke in Bed,” a cynical, Nina Simone original performed by Patti Smith. Among the disc’s disappointments is Luscious Jackson’s “69 Année Erotique,” a throwaway sung entirely in French and perhaps destined for heavy rotation at Limited Express. But Luscious’ characteristic retro-’70s glide, absent on “69,” turns up on Andi Oliver’s cover of Marlena Shaw’s “Woman of the Ghetto”—complete with flute riff and bass-heavy groove.