Tom Sinclair
February 23, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Home Alive: The Art of Self Defense

Current Status
In Season
Various Artists
Spoken Word, Rock

We gave it a B+

The death of Mia Zapata was less widely reported than that of Kurt Cobain, but its impact on Seattle’s music community was no less profound. Zapata, lead singer for the Gits, was raped and murdered by an unknown assailant in 1993; in the wake of that tragedy, local activists formed Home Alive, a Seattle collective dedicated to educating women about personal safety.

Home Alive: The Art of Self Defense, a benefit album for the organization, spreads 45 new and previously released tracks and outtakes, donated by as many artists, over two CDs. For such a massive grab bag, it’s surprisingly cohesive, offering a potent array of songs and scathing spoken-word vignettes that skewer sexist attitudes with brutal brio.

The contributors range from the big guns (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden) to, um, more modest artillery (Shark Chum), but there are few duds to be found here. One could quibble that a new number from, say, Foo Fighters would have been more welcome than the live Nirvana leftover contained herein (”Radio Friendly Unit Shifter”). Still, Pearl Jam’s down and dirty romp through Eddie Holland’s ”Leaving Here” is pure garage-rock ambrosia. And if the inclusion of the Supersuckers’ intentionally crass ”She’s My Bitch” troubles you, don’t worry. That song is immediately followed by the firebrand feminism of Tribe 8’s ”Frat Pig,” which includes the memorable lyric ”It’s called/Gang rape/Let’s play/Gang castrate!” Now, that’s pithy. B+

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