Skunk Anansie
Paranoid And Sunburnt


3.5
great

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
July 31st, 2008 | 36 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Debut from shaved head 6 foot something black woman-led band is even, has a good strike rate and arguably contains one of the catchiest & under-rated rock songs of the 90's!

Skunk Anansie could have Jimi Hendrix, George Bush & the pope as backing musicians and I still do not think it would take the attention away from lead singer Skin (Deborah Dyer). I mean, is there anything more rock than having a 6 foot something black woman with a shaved head screaming at you? More often than not, what is being screamed (or sung) in your direction on the British band's debut release is controversial and/or political. So much so that American shock jock Howard Stern became a fan of theirs and claimed they would break out huge upon hearing 1st single and album opener 'Selling Jesus'.

Riding a fine line between being both raw sounding and melodic, this track could have done with some improved production. But it is the words that are at the forefront here as no punches are pulled from the get-go with confrontational lyrics concerning religion being used as a money-making venture. Unfortunately, it is a little over-bearing and preachy in all honesty, a pitfall the band later get into (albeit regarding different topics) on the overlong cuts 'Little Baby Swastikkka' and track 9 'And Here I Stand'.

Thankfully, that isn't the case on track 2 'Intellectualise My Blackness' which is somehow more effective despite not being any less confronting. The song title says it al here as Skin occasionally puts on a mocking voice to make her point quite clear. While it does come off as a little gimmicky, it seems more relevant and effective than any of the aforementioned 3 tracks.

Second single 'I Can Dream' is the clear highlight of the album and the song which sees some people label Skunk Anansie as one hit wonders. Everything comes together brilliantly here as an ominous guitar riff that is ably backed up by a very good rythym section is combined with especially effective vocals where Skin finds just the right balance between aggression and melody. Arguably one of the catchiest (& under-rated) rock songs of the 90's, this involving sing-along gem proves that the band do not have to be so direct and controversial with their lyrics to be noticed.

Despite the dominance of Skin, the musicianship on this album is occasionally rather impressive. Many of the tracks contain rather strong bass lines courtesy of Cass (Richard Lewis) which give some songs an additionally funky feel without going too over the top. But for the most part, the band play their part well without standing out too much.

The barometers of the album are likely to be the cuts which are more conventionally structured than the rest. 'All In The Name of Pity', 3rd single 'Charity', 4th single 'Weak', '100 Ways To Be A Good Girl' and closer 'Rise Up' all head towards mainstream rock territory to some extent. While not entirely convincing in the role, the fact that the overall feeling is that Skunk Anansie are able to pull these tracks off is a positive and a sign that they are rather talented with good potential.

It is their songwriting skills which is what they will live and die by though and that isn't necessarily a bad thing when the band can come up with an awesome song title such as 'It Takes Blood & Guts To Be This Cool But I'm Still Just a Cliche'. A memorable (for one reason or another) track, this effectively switches pace often and alternately conveys both sides of the fan/musician hero worship angle as Skin pleads "I see you, You see me, And who the hell am I supposed to be. I don't care now but I know I should". It all leads up to a tremendous crescendo which gets this song the closest to 'I Can Dream' in terms of quality.

Skunk Anansie may not be for everyone. Skin's dominance is clear and those who would prefer that themes such as politics, racism and religion stay out of music will consider themselves being preached to here. However, 'Paranoid & Sunburnt' is sufficiently even, contains enough variety and importantly has a good strike rate of hits compared to misses to more than get by. This is especially the case when one considers this is a debut album and there is still lots of room for improvement. Oh and just in case you missed it, this album also contains one of the catchiest and most under-rated rock songs of the 90's.

Recommended Tracks: I Can Dream, It Takes Blood & Guts To Be This Cool But I'm Still Just a Cliche, Intellectualise My Blackness and Charity.



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user ratings (40)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
July 31st 2008


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You recommend Intellectualize My Blackness but not Weak?

Also Weak and Hedonism were both much, much bigger than I Can Dream, so I don't know why somebody would point to that track and call them a one-hit wonder.This Message Edited On 07.31.08

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 31st 2008


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"You recommend Intellectualize My Blackness but not Weak?"
Correct. I believe the former song says more about the band. 'Weak' is good though and it is basically on par with Charity as the 4th best track on the album in my opinion.
"Also Weak and Hedonism were both much, much bigger than I Can Dream"
Fair call on this from a chart perspective, but I would suggest that if there is one song that is most associated with the band, it is 'I Can Dream'. I will stand corrected if I am wrong though.
I am interested in your rating for this album Nick.....

AtavanHalen
July 31st 2008


17927 Comments


Bald black women are awesome.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 31st 2008


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Have you had experience with them previously have you Dave...???

Iai
Emeritus
August 1st 2008


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I dunno, I'd put "Brazen" and "Twisted" ahead of "I Can Dream" as their most iconic moment too. It strikes me as really odd that you'd choose that, it'd be almost like somebody saying that "Friday Night" is the most iconic song by The Darkness. Also "Intellectualize My Blackness" is a problem for me because the main thing that stops me really enjoying these guys is how preachy they can get (see also "Yes It's Fucking Political").

I'd give every SA album a 3, but this isn't as good as Stoosh.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 1st 2008


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Maybe 'I Can Dream' is a personal thing then... I dunno. It would be great to get someone else's opinion, but it doesn't look as if many around here have heard the album.
My review of 'Stoosh' is upcoming so I won't get too much into that album here other than saying that I agree with you on the 2 standout tracks from that album ('Twisted' & 'Brazen), but I disagree that it is better than 'Paranoid...' I am not surprised that you prefer 'Stoosh' though as it is definitely less preachy than this debut.
I appreciate the input Nick. Ta.

Iai
Emeritus
August 4th 2008


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Man, you've set me off. Basically all I've listened to for the past couple of days is Skunk Anansie singles.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 4th 2008


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha. Well, "apologies" or "you're welcome" whichever way you look at it.
My review of Stoosh is now up. I have to end the Skunk Anansie streak there though as I never did get my hands on their 3rd album 'Post Orgasmic Chill' or any of Skin's solo stuff.



AnvilJ
August 21st 2010


124 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

11 solid straight up hard rock songs, even the ballads, unlike their next releases. The music does get a bit lost in the mix, but the bass playing is pronounced, especially so live where these songs really came alive. I do not think they eve put a live album out, which would have been a good idea between albums 2 and 3.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2010


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Totally agree Anvil. I remember seeing them live & they were all kinds of energy & sounded even heavier than what they are on record.

random
August 25th 2010


2270 Comments


Skin's voice is awesome. I bought this album because I heard Selling Jesus and I liked it;Is the rest of the album like that song?

Inveigh
August 25th 2010


25209 Comments


why not just listen to it? if you have it, I mean

Digging: Nero Di Marte - Derivae

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2010


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That was a rather "random" question... Unless it was just bought within the last few hours.

Fugue
August 25th 2010


7354 Comments


I heard some of this the other day, it was much better than I thought it would be. Also how awesome is the band name? Skunk Anansie, fucking score.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2010


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'I Can Dream' still rocks my world.

Band name does catch the attention. I can't recall what Anansie meant, but I think it was something to do with spiders.

Fugue
August 25th 2010


7354 Comments


Anansi(e) was an African spider god wasn't he?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2010


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I dunno. You tell me Professor Tomlin.

Fugue
August 25th 2010


7354 Comments


Yeah I'm pretty sure I'm right, and you know me, I'm an expert on Spider Gods.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2010


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That you are. Hear that people, if you have any questions on Spider Gods (& I am sure you all do), please refer them to mutatedfreek.

Fugue
August 25th 2010


7354 Comments


Roll up, roll up.



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