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uninvited

11.7.98

"You've got to give what you got and take what I'm givin' you, baby."
- From Alanis Morissette's true second album, NOW IS THE TIME (1992)

So La Alanis' new one came out this week. And she's on the covers of ROLLING STONE and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. And my Alanis threshold is now in the red zone. I'm sure she's a nice woman, and she never did anything to me. Still, does anyone else hope SUPPOSED FORMER INFATUATION JUNKIE flops harder than anything has ever flopped before??

It most likely won't. The record industry is betting on SFIJ to lure SFAJs (Screaming Fanatical Alanis Junkies) into stores, where they will theoretically buy many of the other records coming out in this unusually release-hectic month. The early word is that it's expected to rake in at least half of JAGGED LITTLE PILL's take (28 million copies worldwide), which is far from shabby. But the reviews have been mixed, and more than one critic has taken the opportunity to point out that this is Morissette's second second album. Her first second album, recorded way back in 1992 when she was a Canadian Debbie Gibson clone known simply as Alanis (no Morissette), was entitled NOW IS THE TIME.

I actually own that disc*; I picked it up, like, the week "You Oughta Know" hit the airwaves, thinking "Hey, this is an early Alanis album, it's probably even more hardcore!" Has anyone ever been so wrong? Has anyone ever been as shocked as I was when I heard the first track? My God, what a piece of soft log-shaped stuff. I had to double-check to make sure it wasn't recorded in 1986 during the salad days of Sheila E, Klymaxx, and Nu Shooz. Robert Altman has said that in Canada, they're five or ten years behind American culture; I don't know if that's true, but this mid-'80s album released in 1992 doesn't exactly refute Altman's generalization.

True, Alanis captured my fancy for a season. Like many of you, I bought JAGGED LITTLE PILL and listened to it religiously (while slightly disappointed that it crowded out other worthy newcomers in 1995 -- like Jen Trynin, whose excellent "Better Than Nothing" seemed to vanish from the airwaves at the precise moment "You Oughta Know" moved in). I saw her in concert twice, once at a college, then at a stadium. The stadium show began the process of disillusionment. Alanis did the same stuff she'd done in the earlier show, including the bit where she holds her mike out towards the audience and says "And you are...?"

Then her JAGGED LITTLE PILL, LIVE video cemented my growing jaded opinion; you can like or dislike Courtney Love or Tori Amos as musicians, but at least their interviews are never boring. They have a unique take on things (especially Tori Amos, whose interviews are sometimes so baffling they need footnotes, but are nonetheless immensely entertaining); Alanis is of the "Everything I have to say is in my songs" school, with occasional ruminations on that terminally tedious rock-star topic -- how success changes everything.

People dis Courtney for morphing from one image to another, but you don't hear many people slamming Alanis for going with whatever's hot at the time. Which, in retrospect, is exactly what she's done. She did the dance-music thing. Then, when angry-white-female rage had been in the air for a few years (after Courtney, Tori, PJ Harvey, L7, and others had broken ground), here came Alanis with her radio-friendly, Glen Ballard funkified version. Now, of course, she's selling healing and spirituality -- she's ready for Lilith Fair '99. And if there's one thing all the female rock artists I admire have in common, it's that none of them are ready for the Lilith Fair -- nor will the Lilith Fair ever be ready for them.


* Not anymore. I sold it on eBay for about $28.


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