Unknown review Peter Days' review Alistair Stewarts' review Rock City review James review
Melissa's review Mike Gee's review Sheila A's review Rich's Glastonbury 99 review Mike Osborn's review Other reviews (offsite)

Band Biography: "Our songs are all about what happens to us on a day to day level," says Skunk Anansie vocalist Skin, summing up the essence of the multi-racial British quartet's blistering debut recording, Paranoid And Sunburnt.

Paranoid and Sunburnt

Paranoid And Sunburnt meets the challenge of capturing the frenetic Skunk Anansie live sound, an invigorating blend of punk, funk, hard rock and reggae. The album was co-produced by the band and Sylvia Massey (Tool, Bikini Kill). "She got the best sounds out of us that she could," enthuses Skin. "When we recorded the album, we went through every single extreme that you could," recalls Skin. "We had a brilliant time. And other times we went completely mad, stir crazy." That frenzied atmosphere is captured in the video for the band's first single, the searing Selling Jesus. With a white cross emblazoned across her face, Skin attacks organized religion for misleading innocents with falsehoods in order to line their pockets. Again and again in the course of Paranoid And Sunburnt, Skin returns to the thorny issue of racism with the tracks Little Baby Swastikkka and Intellectualize My Blackness. Elsewhere, tight musicianship and cohesive songwriting allows Skunk Anansie to turn in gentler performances, like Charity and the lilting 100 Ways To Be A Good Girl.

Skin realizes that Skunk Anansie, the first successful rock band ever fronted by a Black woman, may baffle some. "I'm being portrayed as the angry Black lesbian," she laughs. "Everyone thinks I'm 6'3"!" But that's all part of the game plan, as Skunk Anansie are designed to provoke their listeners in an inspired, genuine fashion. Even their peculiar name reflects that aim: Anansie is an eight-legged human protagonist in the Jamaican equivalent of the American Uncle Remus stories. "He's the king of mischief," explains Cass. "And the Skunk aspect is just the stinkiest thing we could think of. It's one of those names that - once you can bring your mind to remember it - you'll never forget."

Peter Day's review of Paranoid and Sunburnt

Skunk Anansie, are a group of four Londoners, taking the British metal scene by storm, winning the hearts of the scribes of the awesome Brit metal mag Kerrang, and a reputed incendiary live show. Musically they remind me of Germany's Warlock (all you kiddies remember them?), and lyrically this platter is filled with anger and spite directed towards the world's social and political ills. "Little Baby Swastikkka" is a tale of children being taught to hate, with a big groove, funky bass and is darn near danceable. One thing that turns me off a bit, are Skin's screechy vocals. Unfortunately, two ballads creep onto the album, and as far as I'm concerned, its the ballad that killed metal off. Why does metal, a sub section of rock and roll, fueled by energy, noise and brute force feel the need to bring things down to a crawl with ballads? - Peter Day

Alistair Stewarts' review of live SA gig

Article - Rise up: Skunk Anansie drench the town pump - The Peak, Simon Fraser University's Student Newspaper since 1965, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5A 1S6, e-mail:, phone: (604) 291-3597 fax: (604) 291-3786

November compliments Gastown. As rain descends into reservoirs, Water Street seemingly endorses its slick sheen as a Cindy Crawford type would accept a new and cosmetic aesthetic when it is massaged by the greased fingers of an unhinged weather pattern. The mahogany atmosphere blossoms. Wet. Sleek. Radiant.

Water imagery is incredibly appropriate to describe the in-concert abilities of Skunk Anansie. As November compliments Gas Town, ferocious live shows compliment Skunk Anansie. They drench the crowd in an spontaneous energy that very few bands would even attempt.

Some bands may get into the sullen, hoping-for-a- psychic connection trip when they play live. Other bands may get into an identity crisis where they are throwing on a million costumes because they just can't remember who the hell the were the day before, thus formulating a general consensus among audience members that would read, "that was just too weird to be cool."

Skunk Anasie, on the other hand, just play. That's right, they just get up on stage and do their thing and enjoy it. I know, it would be easier to believe that someone could spit Tabasco sauce through their facial pores than a band in this day and age could visibly enjoy playing live. However, Skunk Anansie is a band that challenges this notion, which is exactly what Skunk Anansie did, on November 28, when they opened up for Pure at the Town Pump.

Recently out of Britain, this band is slowly seeping into the North American psyche. The single, Selling Jesus, is getting some air play on Much Music. As well, they have a song, "Feel," on the Strange Days Soundtrack. Before this train of thought clamors completely symmetrically onto the rails of record company band bio, I'm going to flee this informational tangent.

Paranoid and Sunburnt, Skunk Anansie's only album, seems to suffer from the desire for immaculate production. The energy of this band only peers out on the album. It's restrained. Imagine Romeo and Juliet grasping for each other as they suffocate themselves with cellophane instead of succumbing to poison; it's an energy like that.

Live, Skunk Anasie leaves the constraints of recording behind them. That rage and vehemence that pokes through on CD, is set free in a mad sort of way. I mean mad, as in crazy, absolutely, off the rocker, screaming, bouncing, bashing, obscene, Daffy Duck on mescaline , really kind of crazy.

Skin, the tall and sometimes militant front person, jitters around the stage like someone who has an hour-long pass from the asylum and has seen the light of something much more accessible than God, which she has to share with people before she is thrown back into a straightjacket. She performs like an enlightened lunatic, attempting to provide an electric form of redemption to whomever gets the succulent opportunity to see her.

The band continues the madness in a milder form. The drummer is a gigantic fellow, who bashes his kit like he's taking vengeance out on it for some kind of abuse. The bassist is also a fairly muscular fellow. But, he does not get nasty, he gets oddly joyous. Throughout the show, he smiled in a suggestive mannerwhich could have e meant that he was pleasantly surprised that the audience was responding to the band, or that he had set up a prank where systematic areas of the ceiling would cave in on those who were not responding. The guitarist strummed away like he was feeding off the band, but was too snobbish to acknowledge them. A varied concoction such as this is exactly what allows Skunk Anansie to be so utterly brilliant in a live show: they are more of a visual than an audio band. This idea could suggest something about the CD (or the CD's quality), but I'm reviewing the show, not the CD.

Anyway, I felt sorry for Pure. To top an act like Skunk Anansie would be like trying to masturbate with an watermelon and getting off on it as it remains completely intact. Skunk Anansie gives the kind of performance that headliners (and their egos) should be wary of about. I tried to find out the secret to this band when I asked the guitarist, Ace, what inspires the almost spiritual endeavour that they assume when they hit the stage. He responded, "We're all on the same vibe." A Niagara vibe.

Rock City Review

Thurs 18 Jan '96

Well, I guess the first thing to say about this gig is that is was moved from the smaller Rig to the (surpise!) larger Rock City. I guess this might have had something to do with the fact that there were quite a few people there. Not bad when you consider that last year they were opening band on the Killing Joke tour behind Shootyz Groove (who?, yeah exactly).
So, what was it like, pretty standard SA I guess, which is by no means a bad thing. They played most of the album, from what I can remember, and it still sounds way better live than on the CD.
A few new songs were played as well, all of which seemed good, although the only one whose title I can remember was Punk by Numbers (good title in these heady days of 'Rebellion'. And why not, a good fast punky toon it was an all, guv.
So they do Little Baby Swastika, I can Dream, Selling Jesus, Charity and the rest, Skin still sounds like one of the best vocalists too come around in a long time, even if for the first few songs the mike didn't want to be her friend, can't trust anything these days ...
One complaint, (cos I've got to have a moan, and I feel in a right shitty, lets have a moan mood anyway :) ) is that some of the raps that skin uses are still the same as she was using last year. Some new stuff there would be nice. Oh, and there seemed to be a lot of people hanging on the every word, and cheering for anything, no bad thing I guess, but well, sometimes it irks me, and like I said, I'm in a mood, so sue me :)
Overall I guess, things are looking pretty good for the band, and if things continue for them at the rate their going, then next time the gig might have to be moved from Rock City to ..... who knows where.

Overall Dave RatingYep, the bit you've been holding your breath for, in which case I guess you should now breath out, otherwise you'll go a strange colour, and we wouldn't want that now, would we. More of the same then I guess, to borrow a cliche, watch em go...

James review...

DeMontfort Hall, Leicester 2nd Dec 96

On a cold December evening as we stood outside the De Montfort hall we were confronted by the sad news that Skunk Anansie were lost somewhere between Ireland, Scotland and Leicester. As we stood there freezing our tits off our evening had again found its meaning SA had arrived, at last we were welcomed into the warmth and comfort of De Montford hall, the warmth being the bar.

A two and a half hour wait was then rewarded with a full view of the glorious stage from the front row. First on stage were the technicians confirming a number of times that, 'yes, the drums did work'. As the audience's patience began to wither the support band Stereophonics took to the stage, and the long wait was over. Their music was fast and wild, just what was needed to warm up the crowd for SA. Stereophonics are a lesser known band, but their performance showed a talent which has yet to be recognised by the British public. Finally the moment came and Skin emerged with a devilish smile, perched upon the drum kit. The crowd then snapped as a wave of euphoria swept across the hall.

As the opening line of 'Yes It's Fucking Political' shook Leicester. Skin's stunning show-woman's-ship enthralled the crowd, as she leaped about the stage, and occasionally into the audience. Cass's performance on bass reaffirmed him as one of the best live bass players around, while Mark Richardson battered shit out of the drums like he'd just been let out of the local asylum. Ace performed like Jimi Hendrix on twice as much wizz as usual. This combination made the crowd go wild.

The highlight of the show came when members of SA's devoted posse were invited up onto the stage to take part in, 'Charity' and 'Little Baby Swastika'. This act proves that SA still have affection for their disciples unlike other modern day bands who let the security guards smother them in cotton wool, so that the crowd can't get anywhere near them.

All in all the night was worth the long cold wait, and having to survive the crush of a very eager crowd.

Melissa's review

Skunk Anansie summed up how I felt on my last visit to bonny ol' England- "I like England just fine but I ain't eatin' any of that beef". ('Yes It's Fucking Political'). Their second effort, Stoosh suprises with the diversity of styles of songs - punk, pop - angry and emotional, largely due to the songwriting and vocal talents of Skin (the lead singer), but credit should also go to her band of multi-talented artists. Stoosh oozes political, androgynous sexuality, subverting dominant ideas of what a band with a black female singer is supposed to sing about and sound like. It's reassuring to listen to Skin, a strong female performer amongst the sugary divas of Britpop, with a voice that can be swiftly mutated from defiant and in-your-face (in 'We Love Your Apathy') to gentle and expressive (in 'Hedonism').

'Yes It's Fucking Political' has the potential to replace Billy Bragg with Skunk Anansie as the mouthpiece for the young socialist generation! Skin says: "We've been slagged off for being political. I hate that kind of argument against bands. Music doesn't have to be about feeling good all the time. The minute you run away from politics, you run away from life." She also talks about the song 'We Love Your Apathy' - (it's) "about the attitude of British people who've just gotten used to being kicked in the bollocks all the time. They just take it". With the new Tory government in Australia, it would pay for us to listen to this song as a warning for the future. But their songs aren't just about politics. Many of their songs sing about love and lust. 'Twisted (Everyday Hurts)' is a spiralling tale of love and lies.

Skunk Anansie blew the Sex Pistols off stage across Australia. Hopefully when they tour next, they won't have to ride on the backs of dinosaurs - but deservedly headline. And seeing the songs off Stoosh performed live will be amazing.

Melissa Fox

Mike Gee's Review

Equinox Festival, Macquarie University, March 30th

Skunk Anansie - Skin's a star. The only woman in rock capable of giving you heart attack just watching her. The band's a class act but the drumming's sounding a might staid. Still when they hit the anthems such as "All I Want" and "Yes, It's Fuckin' Political" they slam with a ferocity that's stunning. What they need most of all now is some new songs. The set was remarkably similar to last year's Sex Pistols support and they haven't stopped touring since.

Check out iMagazine for a complete review of the Equinox festival, including SA, Tool, Midnight Oil and others.

Sheila's 96 review from the pit

Coney Island High New York City - spring '96

With big grooves, funky bass lines and huge riffs, Skunk Anansie came kicking and slamming into New York City. One woman (Skin) plus three men (Cass Lewis, Ace and Mark Richardson) rocked Coney Island High hard throughout an entire set. The New York crowd packed into the sweltering club and didnt stop moving throughout the show: not even during the ballads.

Skin is one fierce sister. In hot red polyester and black vinyl, Skin worked the audience to a frenzy with her acrobatic stage antics. And can she wail? Skin showed her extraordinary vocal range to an appreciative crowd doing excellent live versions of "Weak" and "Charity". Not to diss the rest of the band, but you couldnt help but remain riveted on Skin all night...shes that hot.

Skunk are known for their frenetic, incendiary live shows and this was no exception. The sound was huge and powerful for three musicians giving you an ample feel of their deep funk, punk and reggae grooves. Skunk has been touring widely and has played to tens of thousands in Europe, doing such stellar events as the Reading Festival. It was obvious from their sumptuous transportation that Skunk is already successful in other places. So why are they still pretty much unknown in the States? Could it be that theyre the only live rock band fronted by a wailing bald Black woman? Give Lenny Kravitz props for recognizing such talent and picking them up for a tour. Maybe well all get hip to Skunk soon.

by Sheila A.

Rich's Glastonbury '99 Review

Glastonbury Festival, Sunday 28/04/1999

"Skunk Anansie. I have to admit that I was not sure that Skunk Anansie could pull off the Sunday night headline slot. Deborah (aka Skin) and her band handled the challenge with a vengeance. This is no exaggeration neither. Skin took charge from the get-go, and never let go. She covered every inch of the massive stage, whether she was running, dancing or prowling with that sneer of the Devil's daughter that she wears so proudly. The band itself were perfect. By the looks of it, S.A. took this opportunity seriously, and very wisely prepared for it. I'll even dare to say that their set was flawless. Everything that was given to them was used to the fullest, be it the lights or the big screen. Musically, the band showed off their dynamics with pride. Exactly what I look for in a rock and roll performance."

Rich Beland

Skin @ The Scala, London, 6 May 2003

The former frontwoman of Skunk Anansie didn't seem the slightest bit scared about making her live solo debut. In a packed venue full of the defunct band's diehard fans, it must have been unnerving to unveil a whole ream of new material they had never heard before.

But it was the lithe, energetic singer complete with natty new hair who the fans had come to see. With their unanimous backing from the off, Skin came through with flying colours.

This feisty performer silkily ploughed through fresh songs from her new album Fleshwounds, and threw in some Skunk Anansie favourites for good measure. The crowd didn't take long to warm to Skin's new material which proved to be a selection of varied, intelligent and strong songs which sounded great. She has retained her rock credentials, but treated us to softer ballads which made fine use of her superb voice which both gently lilts and turns on the power with the loudest electric guitar.

A muscly cover of Electronic's Getting Away With It was a real cracker and a million miles away from Neil Tennant and Bernard Sumner's gentle little pop hit of old.

A skillfully reworked version of the Skunks' Weak gave a hint that this powerful performer has subtly shifted direction since the band split. But she remains prone to a good hard wig-out, and let her energy rip through his venue on a ripping version of Charlie Big Potato.

An acoustic version of Skunk Anansie's biggest hit Hedonism, and Twisted on a dance tip, breathed fresh fire into some well-loved tunes from the past. Skin's solo debut was a great triumph the future looks very bright for this star as she charts new territory in her own right.

- Michael Osborn

Offsite reviews

Back to start
Back to my homepage

Maintained by Kelv.
© 1996-2007 Kelv. All rights reserved.