• Shampoo
  • We Are Shampoo (UK Food) 1994  (Food/IRS) 1995 
  • Girl Power (UK Food) 1996 
  • Absolute Shampoo (UK self-released) 2000 

Britain’s pop machine demands a diverse diet, but one staple of the regimen is colorful rock’n’roll bubblegum, disposable fluff that feeds on its own silliness and disappears before becoming a real bore. As if the ’70s glam era were some cultural vampire in need of regular refreshment, young English blood — carefully refined to remove all traces of seriousness — is periodically offered up to feed the giddy chart maw. Some of the human sacrifices have enough chewy musical meat on their bones to justify the overbearing attitude that inevitably comes with being overnight sensations; others lack the conceptual qualities needed to avoid self-destruction.

Perfectly prefiguring the far less flippant Spice Girls, Jacqui and Carrie, the two self-declared “megababes…blonde-haired teenaged terminators” of Shampoo, come on like a junior Absolutely Fabulous, reveling in their obnoxious wild youth as manifest destiny. Turning “who gives a fuck?” into maddeningly good entertainment, the pair sports thick “sarf” London accents, colorful get-ups and more bratty who-me? hubris than Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. Quietly aided by songwriter Lawrence Hayward (Felt/Denim) and skilled studio handlers who truly know how to balance thick guitar power with efficient synthesizer bop, they shoplift music from Bananarama, Sweet, Alice Cooper, Bryan Adams and the Troggs with impunity. Meanwhile, they slag off Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey (in “Dirty Old Love Song”), throw up kebabs (in “Shiny Black Taxi Cab”) and dismiss supermodels, hippie chicks and riot grrrls with blas‚ indifference. They’re probably wretched to be around, but from the safety of a CD it’s easy to endorse the language-busting title of “Viva la Megababes.”

[Ira Robbins]