Call The Doctor


Chainsaw, 1996

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


If PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Bjork and Liz Phair were the trailblazers of the early 90s, Sleater-Kinney proved more than ready to pick up any slack for the remaining half of that decade with their 1996 sophomore release Call The Doctor. True to its punk roots, the album clocks in at just over a half hour and while the sound may be unpolished, Corin Tucker’s and Carrie Brownstein’s duo guitar attack strike a balance between sheer aggression and catchy-as-hell riffs. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Along with the duo guitar assault, the other “typical” staple of Sleater-Kinney’s sound is the band’s ability to place a line at the end of their songs that will linger in your ears. The characters in “Stay Where You Are” are slogging through a co-dependent relationship; Tucker’s final plea packs an emotional punch when she sings “You can’t find me / You’re in the dark / I’m right here / stay where you are.” In “Taking My Home,” Tucker lashes out at a suitor who is trying to buy a woman’s love (or at least a lay) with a typical defiant response (“Not for sale”), but saves the final, brutally honest zinger for the end: “I got mixed up with somebody else.”

For casual Sleater-Kinney fans, Call the Doctor is probably best known for one of the only punk anthems of the 90s: “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone.” Putting modesty aside, Tucker and Brownstein’s tag-team vocals declare “I’m the queen of rock and roll.” In addition to name dropping Joey, the second refrain belongs to Thurston Moore as Tucker wails “I wanna be your Thurston Moore / wrestle on the bedroom floor.”

Sleater-Kinney was unfairly lumped into the riot-grrrl categorization with their self-titled debut and Call The Doctor. In subsequent interviews, members no doubt got tired of getting questions about “being an all-girl group in such a male dominated field.” With Call The Doctor, Sleater-Kinney made an easy case of letting the music do the talking instead of the countless interviews in rock magazines.

In a year after Call the Doctor was released, Sleater-Kinney would jump from Chainsaw to Kill Rock Stars and record one of the defining records of the decade: Dig Me Out. Musically, it was more varied than Call the Doctor, but it still retained the hurricane intensity of this one.

Any Sleater-Kinney album is a safe investment, but their true potential exploded on Call The Doctor.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Chainsaw, and is used for informational purposes only.