Tribe bridged the gap between late 80’s MTV-rock and the grunge scene to come, yet unlike so many bands who suddenly found themselves an anachronism after the 1992 punk explosion, this band had the smarts and the sound to blast through. That they didn’t is a mystery and a shame, probably owing more to the group’s internal changes than the then-volatile marketplace. Tribe rose quickly through the local scene, its two female/three male mix offering an appealing blend of electronic cool and high-decibel passion – the latter especially from gifted lead singer Janet LaValley. A 1987 4-song EP produced the guitar-heavy Boston radio hit “Abort,” which led to prestigious gigs and a constant stream of praise from the area’s newspapers. Both mainstream rocker WBCN-FM and cross-town alternative WFNX-FM actively courted and supported the band, playing a subsequent single “Jakpot” and ten-track compilation CD named Here at the Home in 1990. All the attention led to a national signing deal with Slash/Warner Brothers Records, which resulted in Tribe’s finest hour, the album Abort. Superbly recorded and performed, it was easily the band’s best work. The next three years would play out like this: group toured the world, released a second album which didn’t sell enough to satisfy the suits, and got dropped by Warner Brothers. Perhaps they could have made a go of it, but the members were already pulling in different directions. Tribe played its farewell show at Boston’s Orpheum Theater in 1994. Although life went on – LaValley winding up in the Big Apple as a solo artist and other members forging highly successful careers in the computer gaming industry – Abort still sounds as fresh today as it did in ‘92.
(by Carter Alan)
Published on December 28, 2012