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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sleater-Kinney's coming of age, both thunderous and textured
Call the Doctor is the blinding work of genius that was the true signifier that Sleater-Kinney had arrived.
This was the band's critical breakthrough and, not surprisingly, also the band's strongest collection of songs until The Hot Rock.
It always pays to put some thought and muscle into your songwriting and this album is proof. Corin doesn't have to scream...
Published on August 8, 1999 by D. Mok

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1 of 52 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars um no
Just what is all the hype about this band Sleater Kinney. From the samples I've heard, they sound bad. Well, the music is okay. It's like a Sonic Youth sound, which I like. But that chick that's "allegedly" singing sounds like she's dying. She just sounds hoooooorrrrrible! I wouldn't pay a dime for their albums. Thank you.
Published on January 26, 2000 by pluto


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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sleater-Kinney's coming of age, both thunderous and textured, August 8, 1999
By 
D. Mok (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Call the Doctor (Audio CD)
Call the Doctor is the blinding work of genius that was the true signifier that Sleater-Kinney had arrived.
This was the band's critical breakthrough and, not surprisingly, also the band's strongest collection of songs until The Hot Rock.
It always pays to put some thought and muscle into your songwriting and this album is proof. Corin doesn't have to scream as much to be heard (when she does, though, on "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone", it arrests your attention because she isn't doing it on every song anymore); arrangements and performances can be subtle (eg. on that simple two-note riff to the bridge of "Call the Doctor", the quiet guitars on the verse to "Joey Ramone", the backing vocals on "Stay Where You Are", the sparse, effective "Hubcap"), and the band shines through with unshowy, rock-solid prowess.
To call this "punk rock" is too simple. Both Call the Doctor and The Hot Rock transcend the punk roots of Sleater-Kinney's individual members into something far more lasting and evocative. For all the yelling and controversy the riot grrls aspired to (eg. Tribe 8's ridiculous, sensationalistic act, Bikini Kill's mouthy Kathleen Hanna, Courtney Love baring her breasts left and right), this is the truly worthy legacy left by the female punk movement: Brilliant music that makes you feel the beating of your own heart; messages that transcend gender lines; full-fledged proof that women are equals to men in rock, without ever having to say anything overt about it. Sleater-Kinney don't mouth off with empty slogans -- it shows you what it means, and convinces you by its undeniable ability.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Close to Perfection!, July 28, 2003
By 
Shon Downing (Baldwyn, MS United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Call the Doctor (Audio CD)
Before I begin, I must let you know where I am coming from, I am a gay African-American male, very much into punk/alternative/whateva it's called these days. My introduction to SK came at a time when I was invovled in a BAD relationship and I happened to hear some talk about how good it was, so I decided to check it out.
IT IS BETTER THAN GOOD! It's EXCELLENT! From the stanza of "Call The Docotor" ... "they want to socialize you....dignify, analyze, terrorize you" I was hooked! Who wouldn't be? SK personifies all the emotions of any under-dog of society (or so they make us out to be), no matter who they may be (female, abused, ethinic, etc.) and screams, plays and ROCKS them into a complete fruition of being. This band should have gotten a Grammy for this fine example of punk rock agression mixed with sympathetic/empathetic emotion.
Then I heard "Good Things" and my world transformed. I instantly related the song to my current state and found the strength to move on to something more productive and healthy besides a messed up (I'm being quite tame) realtionship. "Getting better, worse, I cannot tell..." says it all. "Why do good things never want to stay?", well, I guess I will never know the answer to that, but thanks to SK I know that even the bad has an alternate side that will sometimes purge itself out. "This time I wiil be alright, this time I will be ok..." are words that I will take with me to my grave.
This band was able to transcend pure enlightment to me in the course of a CD....do I need to say more? Did I mention the other songs? I don't even need too.
Just buy it! It's well worth it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There are no words..., January 24, 2003
This review is from: Call the Doctor (Audio CD)
I got this cd, not even a week ago now, and I can't not be listening to it. Even when I'm out to dinner with my friends, the songs are stuck in my head for hours on end. I wasn't sure that I would like it as I'm a devoted fan of The Hot Rock (don't buy the reviews that it's not a phenomenal album, it grows on you like ivy and takes over your entire being). I think at this point my roommate can sing along with me, and she does not enjoy SK to the point that I do. This album is pure heaven. period end of story. I dare you to listen to it and not fall in love.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4˝ stars if I could, March 17, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Call the Doctor (Audio CD)
Call the Doctor was the first Sleater-Kinney album I bought, and now I own them all and I've seen them in concert twice. Simply: if you're even considering buying this album, you should do it. It's virtually unparalleled as punk-pop, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a song with more energy than "Little Mouth", or a song that grows on you the way "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" will. If you've never heard Sleater-Kinney, their honesty and energy will blow you away. If you have, this record isn't as polished as The Hot Rock or Dig Me Out, but this album is distinguished from the others by the complete absence of filler -- every one's a keeper, and if a gem like the title track or the ones mentioned above happen to stand out, it's not for lack of competition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By any measure, a flat out musical masterpiece, April 13, 2006
This review is from: Call the Doctor (Audio CD)
Sleater-Kinney is a band I can only talk about using superlatives. Easily the best all-female band in the history of rock. In my opinion the best rock band of the past decade based on actual output (I defy anyone to name a band that has produced six albums as great as Sleater-Kinney has in the past ten years; Belle and Sebastian can come close, but too much of their work of the past five years has been uneven). They were originally viewed as the best of the second wave of riot grrrl bands, but I think that has obscured just how extraordinary this band is. Our society tends to marginalize too many women artists and performers by relegating them to "Female" status, much as I did in the second sentence of this review. Mind you, they are the greatest female rock band ever, but there is a sense in which that helps obscure just how great they are. Radiohead is a great band, but their output from 1996 to the present is not nearly as impressive as Sleater-Kinney's.

CALL THE DOCTOR is my favorite Sleater-Kinney album, but that isn't to say anything bad about the five albums that came after. Employing the Pitchforkmedia rating system, I would give around a 9.4 to CALL THE DOCTOR, and between 8.0 and 9.2 to the next five (which is actually pretty close to what Pitchfork gives them, which, again, no other band I know can match). Other people will prefer ONE BEAT or THE WOODS or DIG ME OUT, but I just like the hooks of CALL THE DOCTOR a bit more than the others. But I truly do consider all six of their post-debut albums--CALL THE DOCTOR (1996), DIG ME OUT (1997), THE HOT ROCK (1999), ALL HANDS ON THE BAD ONE (2000), ONE BEAT (2002), and THE WOODS (2005)--to be absolutely essential. In my opinion, based on this output, Sleater-Kinney has to be accounted not merely the best band of the past decade, but one of the finest bands ever.

Their eponymous debut album was good, but not really great. It indicated promise more than fulfilled potential. But CALL THE DOCTOR was the real McCoy. It was political and feminist without preaching or being too blatant (striking the same kind of balance that The Clash excelled at). Musically, they weren't just hard rocking, but melodic even at their loudest. Although most people when talking of Sleater-Kinney's musical antecedents mention bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile, the name I keep thinking of when I hear they way they use guitars is that of another Portland performer: Greg Sage. Granted, Sage's band The Wipers influenced almost every Pacific Northwest band that came after it (Kurt Cobain was up front about Sage's influence on Nirvana), so Sage's influence could easily be indirect. But I'd be amazed if the band's approach wasn't to some degree in direct emulation of Sage. Whatever the source, Sleater-Kinney managed to be melodic, passionate, hard-driving, and really, really loud all at the same time. They possessed a seemingly endless supply of great musical ideas (a font that ten years later that shows no signs of going dry), innovative use of twin lead guitars (on record usually overdubbing a bass and occasionally using a bass live as well, though usually going with two guitars). And the singing is just exceptional. My three favorite female singers at present are Polly Jean Harvey, Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Corin Tucker. This really is a band that has everything.

But the thing that really shows how far Sleater-Kinney came from their debut album was the quality of the songwriting. It isn't less political (though it is less in-your-face), but the message is contained within musically compelling songs. A book I especially admire is Susan Faludi's BACKLASH: THE UNDECLARED WAR AGAINST AMERICAN WOMEN, published in 1991 about the widespread reaction to feminism that arose in the 1980s. My one disagreement with her great book is her failure to notice the tremendous gains women were making in youth culture in the late eighties and early nineties. While the nineties lacked many of the political victories that those concerned with women's issues would have liked to see, there is no question that even as Faludi wrote a host of women on the periphery were engaging in irrepressible acts of self-assertion and self-definition. Right Wing fundamentalist Beverly LaHaye might be urging women to be subservient and submissive to their husbands, but these women were having none of it. These were, after all, women who didn't want to be mothers and wives, but Joey Ramones. They weren't waiting till they grew up to be women.

If you love hard rock, this is a must-own album. Not just that, you can't really claim to love hard rock if you don't own their last six albums. And it is time people started recognizing these guys for what they are: the world's best rock band. They shouldn't be opening for Pearl Jam; Pearl Jam should be opening for them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Things, November 23, 2002
By 
"me-jane" (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Call the Doctor (Audio CD)
Before I begin, I should probably say that I'm not one of those annoying purists who cries "sell out!" at the first sign of a band developing sophistication or maturity. I like everything SK have done since CTD. That said, for all the virtues of later SK, in terms of sheer glorious pain, this goes unsurpassed.
What makes this album great is its rough edges, its potent mix of aggression, confusion, and naivete. I don't think they've done anything to match the visceral intensity of songs like "I'm Not Waiting" or "Anonymous" since. When Corin declares at the opening of the title track, "I'm your monster, I'm not like you", it's a moment of pure defiance, of realizing the pain of being an outsider and embracing it anyway. "Little Mouth" is more scathing and genuinely unsettling than anything Bikini Kill ever managed. "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" is jagged good fun. "Heart Attack" has the same tone of youthful, self-excoriating apathy you see in the best moments on In Utero.
But for me the defining moment of the album is the curious line at the end of "Taking Me Home", an incisive feminist rant against the social orthodoxy that posits women as commodities, either as wives or sex objects. But in a tired, confused, almost deadened voice, Corin sings, "I've got me mixed up with somebody else", adding a dimension of doubt and ambivalence to the song that might have otherwise been a little heavy-handed. It's this tension between rage and confusion that makes this such a brilliant soundtrack to anyone's messed-up adolescence. Cathartic bliss.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Embryonic, but exciting, August 13, 2000
By 
This review is from: Call the Doctor (Audio CD)
I'll never understand the people who claim that this was Sleater Kinney's finest hour. Don't get me wrong-- it's worth the price for "Joey Ramone" alone-- but the rough edges are can be as infuriating as they are endearing. Corin has yet to expand her vocal attack, the guitars are still searching for a unique vocabulary, the lyrics are a bit sophomoric, and the confident drumming of Janet Weiss is sadly absent. Nevertheless, DOCTOR'S passion and drive still draw blood. If you are a Sleater fan, you'll want to buy every album anyway, but newcomers should start with ALL HANDS or HOT ROCK for proof of the band's evolution. They just keep getting better!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than good..., September 25, 2010
This review is from: Call the Doctor (Audio CD)
CALL THE DOCTOR: This album is a masterpiece of all things sonic, queer, and emotion excavation. It's really that simple. That this album was somehow humbly crafted in the shadow of grunge's flavorless armpit and riot grrrls's gnashing vagina is unthinkable to me. Also, for the record, one cannot endure the soul-raping, heteronormative panopticon without these brilliant pop songs. Trust me. (Still my "go-to-album" for dealing with all crises and breakdowns -- be they identity, emotional, academic, communication, nervous, etc.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the sound of a great band coming into its own, March 22, 2006
This review is from: Call the Doctor (Audio CD)
S-K's first album has one great song ("Slow Song") but Call the Doctor is the one where you hear them separating themselves from the rest of the riot grrrl pack. It was here that their lyrics began to move beyond the valid yet cliche sloganeering of their Olympia peers. But they certainly didn't become "apolitical," as some of the more simple-minded have said. In fact, "Call the Doctor" is a wonderful song about the medicalization of power and discourses of normalization that would have made Foucault jealous for its analytic depth. Ditto with "Little Mouth" and "Anonymous." I'll take Sleater-Kinney over a Judith Butler lecture any day of the week. The major highlight is Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker shrieking together on "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone," the title of which brilliantly captures their long-running ambivalence about whether they want to be included in the great rock music canon's stairway to heaven or whether they want to destroy the canon altogether because the rules of inclusion are slanted against women rockers to begin with. Either way, this album established Corin and Carrie as the greatest punk rock songwriting team since Joe Strummer and Mick Jones. Oh, and I love love love the song "Good Things"! "Some things you lose/ some things you give away"... Good work ladies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Close to Perfection!, July 28, 2003
By 
Shon Downing (Baldwyn, MS United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Call the Doctor (Audio CD)
My introduction to SK came at a time when I was invovled in a BAD relationship and I happened to hear some talk about how good it was, so I decided to check it out.
IT IS BETTER THAN GOOD! It's EXCELLENT! From the stanza of "Call The Docotor" ... "they want to socialize you....dignify, analyze, terrorize you" I was hooked! Who wouldn't be? SK personifies all the emotions of any under-dog of society (or so they make us out to be), no matter who they may be (female, abused, ethinic, etc.) and screams, plays and ROCKS them into a complete fruition of being. This band should have gotten a Grammy for this fine example of punk rock agression mixed with sympathetic/empathetic emotion.
Then I heard "Good Things" and my world transformed. I instantly related the song to my current state and found the strength to move on to something more productive and healthy besides a messed up (I'm being quite tame) realtionship. "Getting better, worse, I cannot tell..." says it all. "Why do good things never want to stay?", well, I guess I will never know the answer to that, but thanks to SK I know that even the bad has an alternate side that will sometimes purge itself out. "This time I wiil be alright, this time I will be ok..." are words that I will take with me to my grave.
This band was able to transcend pure enlightment to me in the course of a CD....do I need to say more? Did I mention the other songs? I don't even need too.
Just buy it! It's well worth it!
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Call the Doctor
Call the Doctor by Sleater-Kinney (Audio CD - 1996)
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