L7 (1986-present): a Grunge band from Los Angeles, California, USA.
eaturing the basic 'Sub Pop' Grungy/punk rock style Seattle sound, L7 was formed in 1986 by Donita Sparks (vocals/guitar) and Suzi Gardner (guitar/vocals). Recruiting L.A. punkster Jennifer Finch (bass/vocals) and Anne Anderson (drums who in turn was apparently replaced with drummer Roy Koutsky soon after), the act signed to the small 'Epitaph' label and the resulting 1988 eponymous debut attracted the attention of 'Sub Pop' the next year to release their Smell the Magic EP in 1990 with Dee Plakas replacing Koutsky. The EP fueled the band's growing popularity. That same year saw them touring with the then unknown act Nirvana and almost upstaging them with their antics.
In 1992 they were signed to 'Slash' and made a UK 24 hit with the follow-up Bricks Are Heavy, an album of Pop-grunge and hard hitting and humorous post-feminist lyrics. That same year more fame was achieved at the Reading Festival where Sparks introduced the audience to a used tampon, then followed up the event later in the year on 'The Word' program where she exposed her feminine virtues. The act also started their Rock For Choice pro-abortion lobby group that received acclaim from the male dominated music business. They ended the year by appearing as an act called Camel Lips in the film Serial Moon.
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If 1992 was a productive year for this all-female act then 1994 would see them reap the rewards of all this fame with the follow-up album Hungry For Stink making 26 UK and the track Fuel My Fire later being covered by the Prodigy on their The Fat Of The Land album.
The Beauty Princess: Triple Platinum (1997) failed to even come close to platinum. The platter featured a harder edge for the act who was now trying to navigate their way through the maze left behind in a post-Grunge world, and also saw the last of Finch who left to join Lyme and replaced with Greta Brinkman for From Osaka To Omaha (live; 1999) before she too was replaced with Gail Greenwood (ex-Belly) whose debut was on the follow-up Slap Happy (1999), an album that received critical words for sounding one-dimensional. Janice Tanaka (ex-Fireball Ministry/ex-Hammers Of Misfortune) would in turn take over bass duties just before the release of their "best of..." compilation The Best Of L7 - The Slash Years (2000). Now long past their peak of popularity, L7 continues to trudge on for their die-hard fans.
Footnote: The phrase L7 comes from 1950s slang for "square" (in reference as an insult to someone who is not marching to the current trends). The figures were developed by placing the thumb and forefinger of the left hand to form an "L" and then the reverse with the right to form a "7". Their first choice for a name (quickly dismissed) was "Camel Lips".
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