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Friday, August 1, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 64.0° F  Light Rain
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Madison masterpieces: Garbage, Garbage
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Alien supergods.
Alien supergods.

What prompted me to listen to Garbage's debut, I cannot precisely recall. I think I liked the cover art and band name. I'm almost positive I hadn't heard a single song before trying it out on the headphones at a record store in Lincoln, Neb., in August 1995.

Minutes later, I bought the CD, and I do remember exactly why: It was Shirley Manson singing "I can take you out/With just a flick of my wrist," 80 seconds into "Supervixen." That lyric, from what remains one of the strongest opening tracks I've ever encountered, floors me every time.

Garbage sounded like a band of alien supergods - not really malevolent, but definitely dangerous, with motives beyond mortal comprehension. Powerful technology was clearly at play, but it seemed organically grafted onto their bodies. They managed to come as off unapproachably cool, while obviously connecting with an audience, given the six singles that charted all over the world.

Half the album! That is some Achtung Baby/Rumours/Thriller shit, there.

What strikes me now is how good the other songs are, too ("A Stroke of Luck," "My Lover's Box"), and the sophisticatedly savage sense of girl power. Big ups to Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig for letting Manson take the lead. I think I owned Garbage for a couple weeks before realizing the drummer was the guy who produced Nevermind and Siamese Dream. And honestly, I forgot it had been made at Smart Studios in Madison till we moved here. But no surprise such a forward lady found her voice in Lady Forward's city.

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