The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black

Black Date

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If any alternative rock act that emerged in the 1990s deserves to be compared to the Tubes, it is the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black -- and not because their music is similar. In fact, Black Date doesn't sound anything like a Tubes album. But Horror, like the Tubes, is as much of a theatrical outfit as it is a band. The Tubes were as famous for their over-the-top image and their wild, outrageous live show as they were for their music, and in the 1990s, image and theatrics were just as important to Horror. But even without its shocking costumes and attention-grabbing image, this band would be worthwhile. On Black Date, the New Yorkers provide a highly infectious blend of punk and hard rock that recalls the Plasmatics, the Runaways, Venus & the Razorblades, and other rockers of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The lyrics are an exercise in trashy, unapologetically decadent fun, and Kembra Pfahler's colorful, bratty lead vocals really bring sleazy gems like "Plow" (an ode to female wrestlers), "Do You Miss My Head?," and "Shopping Spree" to life. A band that is every bit as visual as the Tubes, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, or Kiss, Horror deserves applause for doing its part to bring some theater back to rock & roll. But even if Pfahler and friends didn't have such an interesting image, Black Date would be a lot of fun.

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