Longstanding Pacific Northwest indie/punk label Kill Rock Stars is celebrating its 30th anniversary by releasing a number of covers of classic songs from artists on its roster. The second single in the series is a cover of riot grrrl progenitors Bikini Kill’s 1993 classic ‘Rebel Girl’ by The Black Gang, the trio that virtuoso former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt formed in the late 90s with Wilco’s Nels Cline on guitar and Bob Lee on drums. The recording is taken from a show the band played at The Knitting Factory in Manhattan in October 1998 and even sound man Steve Reed gets involved in the backing vocals.
Watt says the band decided to play it as an encore as he was greatly inspired by the verve and energy with which Bikini Kill performed the song when he supported them on tour a few years prior. The song is a spirited cover of the original, which Watt went on to cover again with his Pair of Pliers band, but Cline’s Ron Asheton-esque guitar lines elevate this rendition above that one. The song is available from Kill Rock Stars as part of its Stars Rock Kill (Rock Stars) series of cover versions, which you can order here.