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Courtney Love was briefly a member of Babes in Toyland in the mid-'80s, and listening to the group's debut album, Spanking Machine, more than a decade after it first came out, one can't help but wonder who ended up borrowing from whom. In many ways, Spanking Machine sounds like the blueprint for the music Love would make during Hole's first incarnation -- all jagged guitars, venomous spat-out vocals, pounding drums, and pit-of-the-stomach rage. But there's no arguing that Babes in Toyland got this sound on plastic first, and this writer would contend that Spanking Machine is a more compelling and emotionally powerful work than anything Hole has ever released. Kat Bjelland's songs pull no punches, but there's a purity and razor sharp honesty to songs like "Pain in My Heart" that communicate far more than just their obvious rage and pain, and the band's blunt, muscular attack doesn't obscure the fact their best songs rock hard, and with a rugged but genuine feel for melody and swing; "He's My Thing," "Fork Down Throat," and "Dust Cake Boy" manage to be violent, abrasive, and listenable all at the same time, a fairly remarkable accomplishment. As a guitarist, Bjelland can be best described as an inspired primitive, but with the first word receiving a bit more emphasis than the second, as she serves up shards of brittle noise that cohere into something quite eloquent, and bassist Michelle Leon and drummer Lori Barbero support her with sweaty, primal ferocity. Years before anyone had uttered the words "Riot Girl," Babes in Toyland were radically redefining what women in rock could sound like, and Spanking Machine has lost none of its transgressive power with the passing of time -- which can hardly be said of, say, Celebrity Skin.