Shiva Burlesque began as a partnership between vocalist Jeff Clark and guitarist Grant Lee Phillips. The two had previously played together in Clark's band, the Tom Boys, in northern California. Following the death of their percussionist (a drum machine), bassist James Brenner and human drummer Joey Peters joined up. The foursome released a self-titled record in 1987 on Nate Starkman & Son, which received year-end praise from the likes of Melody Maker and Rolling Stone. Greg Adamson was added on cello and fan Paul Kimble (credited as Dick Smack) replaced Brenner on bass for 1990's Mercury Blues. They quickly broke up, a result of internal tension. Not helping Shiva Burlesque's cause was their inability to fit in with the reigning hair metal and punk scenes of late-'80s Los Angeles. Phillips, Kimble, and Peters continued as Grant Lee Buffalo, and Clark went solo with Adamson and Brenner on board. Brenner also joined Scenic.
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