Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Maggie Estep "No More Mister Nice Girl"

A couple/few months ago, our frequent contributor Windy sent me a big ol' batch of vinyl (that I'm still going thru) along with something he rarely sends me: a CD. 'Twas by a half-remembered '90s figure that I vaguely recalled from MTV, Maggie Estep.  Hmm, I thought, why'd he send me this?  And then she died. So that must mean something. Actually, all it probably means is that, for the first time in decades, people are talking about Maggie Estep's brief recording career, so now would be a good time to post her first album:

Maggie Estep "No More Mister Nice Girl"

There really was a brief period in pop culture when poets were supposed to be the next rock stars. The media tried to tell us that about comedians as well. As it turned out, rock stars are the next rock stars, as it was and so it shall always be. But there was a spoken-word boom here in LA in the '80s, with punk-derived rockers like Chris D. of the Flesh eaters, Exene, D. Boon, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Henry Rollins etc. all giving readings, there were spoken-word nights at punk venues, college stations had spoken-word shows, there was a series of Harvey Kubernik-produced (mostly) spoken word albums, with "real" writers like Bukowski and the also recently departed Wanda Coleman getting up there with the rockers. This went national in the '90s, as the entertainment industry was flailing about trying to figure out what the next big "alternative" thing would be that the kids would eat up (e.g.: signing the likes of Foetus and The Butthole Surfers to major labels!).  Poet Maggie Estep got swept up in this, releasing two albums of her reading her poetry and sorta-singing backed, not by beatniks on bongos, but by alt-rockers, including guitarist Pat Place, who played on a lot of those no wave/punk-funk bands we featured here on the "Down By Law" collection. Another member was in the great toy-pop band Pianosaurus.

After mainstream culture wrestled alternativeness into submission, as it usually does, Estep was free to become a novelist, which is what she was 'til her recent death at the unfortunately early age of 50.

The whole "Gen X"/MTV vibe this album gives off is a weird time-travel back to the days of Tower Records, "Beavis and Butthead," deliberately not wearing flannel shirts, gangsta rap cassettes, being young, single and broke, and lashing out at the media hype about people of my generation being young, single and broke. R.I.P. Maggie.  R.I.P the '90s.

1. Hey Baby
2. I'm Not A Normal Girl
3. Paradise Lost
4. Even If
5. Car Guy
6. The Stupid Jerk I'm Obsessed With
7. My Life Of Gardening
8. F*#! Me
9. Scarification
10. Pee Lady
11. Sex Goddess Of The Western Hemisphere
12. I Swear
13. Vegetable Omelet
14. Rip Trip Strip
15. Ingeborg, Mistress Of The Dark
16. Bad Day At The Beauty Salon

Thanks, windy!


Anonymous said...

You didn't mention John Cooper Clarke - the Bronze Adonis will get you!

Mr Fab said...

This album's okay ("The Stupid Jerk I'm Obsessed With" is a good 'un) but John Cooper Clarke was great! "A friend in need is a friend in debt/I don't want to be nice..."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, Mr. Fab!
Was dismayed to learn that all Maggie Estep CDs had vanished from the station's library when I showed up to do my last show - just a day after the news that she had died.
Her Love is a Dog From Hell is also a great album. More spoken word than music.