Jagged Little Pill (Maverick ‘95) Rating: A-
It’s difficult to compose an objective review of this album, since it’s gone on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide, the most ever for a female artist (I think at least as of 1995, but don't quote me on that). “Hand In Pocket,” “You Oughta Know,” “You Learn,” and “Ironic” all constantly bombarded commercial radio stations back in 1995, while “All I Really Want,” “Right Through You,” and “Head Over Feet” were also popular album tracks that should sound familiar to many listeners. Of course, the flagship tune here was “You Oughta Know.” This is the one with the line “will she go down on you in a theater?,” and more than one reviewer has suggested that what you think of this song depends on what you think of that one line. That’s bullshit, because it’s a great, catchy song with a truly vitriolic vocal performance and an “angry young woman” stance that became a rallying cry for disaffected females. For those of you who have suggested that the former Debbie Gibson of Canada (her first two albums were dominated by slight teen pop) was merely acting mad to sell records, well, she’s one convincing actress, which is all that matters to me. Alanis has a strong, instantly identifiable voice, though her vocal ticks and shrieks can be overbearing and her wordy lyrics a bit clumsy (after all, she was only 21 years old when she wrote them). Producer Glen Ballard co-wrote the music and provides the catchy, streamlined guitar hooks, and though the familiar hits here are easily the best, other album tracks such as “Perfect,” “Forgiven,” and “Mary Jane” are also extremely solid. So, fifteen years later I can separate Alanis Morissette the artist from Alanis Morissette the phenomenon, especially since Jagged Little Pill is filled with catchy, rocking songs that command your undivided attention. P.S. None of her subsequent albums have had anywhere near the same level of success or impact, but Jagged Little Pill will always be a quintessential ‘90s album.