Natural Ingredients Review by Terry Sutton
Spin
September 1994

Luscious Jackson’s first full-length release begins with a salute to New York City and sails out on a DJ’s vinyl-sniffing high. In this funky foursome’s hip pop polyglot, the city stands as the ultimate record collection; the only sane response to its competing rhymes and rhythms, histories and hymns, is to make like a subway train and dive in.

Singer-writer-producers and New York natives Jill Cunniff and Gabby Glasser guide a mean tour on Natural Ingredients, tracking rap from Sugar Hill Gang to Salt-N-Pepa, stepping out at Studio 54 circa ’75, catching Lois and the Spinanes at CBGB. The end result is like “Holiday” crossed with “Do the Right Thing”: A celebration of multiflavored disco utopia snagged by the certainty (thanks to feminism and hip hop) that the dance floor ain’t close to even.

So, the sexy Neneh Cherry-meets-Kim Gordon stride of “City Song” (Cunniff’s R&B chorus spiking Glaser’s husky rap) flip-flops into the melancholic pop of “Deep Shag,” a dependency drag cooled here by Vivian Trimble’s piano. And “Here,” a full-blown Giorgio Moroderesque ode to female pleasure (“Hold this for me down here”) is set up with probably the first answer song to Beck’s “Loser,” “Energy Sucker.” Wailing scornful and strong over an irresistible metallic stutter, Cunniff buries her drain of a lover: “Hey energy sucker/I’m a goddess/Not your mother.”

These self-conscious disco divas mix their cosmic elements (Arabic chants , the Five Stairsteps’ “Ooh Child,” War) with a wink and a steady hand. *Natural Ingredients* is defiantly catchy, the sensual soup of pop and soul, musicianship and sampling, that LJ’s debut EP, *In Search of Manny*, struggled to stir up. Like Luscious Jackson’s bretheren (and Grand Royal bosses) the Beastie Boys, this band holds popular music accountable for its promises of democracy. And then, nostalgic and incensed, they dance that dream for all it’s worth.

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