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Babes in Toyland: The Making and Selling of a Rock and Roll Band

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Though it begins as an adolescent paean to a feminist rock band (”the crowd went mental”), Babes in Toyland: The Making and Selling of a Rock and Roll Band is a well-researched, if digressive, look at both the corporate and underground machinery of the music industry. Having spent three years following and interviewing BIT band members, journalist Neal Karlen recounts the group’s formation, feuds, and friendships, using equal parts weepy drama and professional smarts. But for all his journalistic determination, he sidesteps an important issue for rock’s first major-label feminists: politics. How, for example, do the Babes explain their ”kinderwhore” dresses, or their choice of a band name ripe for misinterpretation? Karlen, whose sociological insights run along the lines of ”[Maureen] has a totally excellent boyfriend,” may be the wrong person to ask. B