Ok, let's just get it out of the way. Millie Jackson's "Back To The Shit" is (sadly) remembered for one thing and one thing only. The notorious cover. As far as I'm concerned, the photograph of Millie squatting on the toilet in her finest evening wear should be hanging in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa. This masterpiece is high art! My favourite thing is the expression on Millie's face. I can never tell if she's having an orgasm or about to squeeze one out! Unfortunately, not everyone shares my appreciation for the finer things in life. "Back To The Shit" is often cited as having the worst cover of all time, while the album itself basically killed Millie's career. Needless to say, it's always been a favourite of mine and I thought it was about time I honoured this holy opus on Pop Trash Addicts.
Millie Jackson was a consistent presence on the American R'n'B charts throughout the 70s and 80s, scoring several top 10 hits and receiving multiple Grammy nominations. That all came to a screeching halt, however, with the release of 1989's "Back To The Shit". The fabulous cover caused a scandal but it was the album's shocking subject matter that triggered the biggest backlash. Millie's gutter mouth and saucy lyrics had made her famous but the general consensus was that she had finally gone too far by talking about getting head from lesbians, dildos, morning flatulence, oral sex, douching and "starchy" toilet seats! Time has taken the edge off some of the material but "Back To The Shit" is still outrageous even by today's standards.
A live album comprised of equal parts stand up comedy and music, "Back To The Shit" is more than just a curiosity. It's a short trip to heaven for fans and a wonderful time capsule of late 80s pop culture. Millie J kicks off the show with a scorching rendition of her 1986 hit "Hot! Wild! Unrestricted! Crazy Love" before launching into the opening monologue "Getting To Know Me". Millie makes her intentions clear from the outset by lamenting her failed attempt to clean up her image (on the highly underrated "The Tide Is Turning") and sets the tone for the album by talking about being propositioned by lesbians ("I do like head, yes, but I'm a greedy bitch. I want something to go with it!") and dildos. That bombshell is followed by a beautiful performance of "An Imitation Of Love", one of Millie's loveliest ballads.
The second comedy routine, "Love Stinks", is an expletive filled exploration of the dark side of romance that covers insightful topics such as pissing on the seat (Millie's handy hint - cut up your wig and glue it around the toilet to improve your boyfriend's aim. Think about it!) and skid marks. The proceedings plummet to a breathtakingly fabulous new low when Millie turns her attention to women's bathroom habits on "Muffle That Fart". Ms Jackson goes where nobody has dared to go before or since by discussing her loud morning flatulence. Call it low brow if you wish, I just find it piss your pants hilarious! "I'm Waiting Baby" is something akin to musical comedy with Millie singing about being stood up at a hotel. It's cute but completely overshadowed by the next track, a stunning cover of The Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow". Everyone from Amy Winehouse to Laura Branigan has interpreted this classic but Millie's is the only version that stands toe to toe with the original.
"Investigative Reporting" has to be heard to be believed. Millie talks about a very memorable episode of Oprah (involving a woman whose vagina was sown shut by her ex-husband) and tears strips off Robin Givens. It comes as something of a relief when Millie returns her focus to singing and belts out her fabulous top 10 hit "Love Is A Dangerous Game". The song proves to be a short respite from the filth when this fabulous bitch turns her attention to AIDS and safe sex on "Sho Nuff Danjus". In my opinion, they should play this at the beginning of every school assembly. Millie even impersonates Dr Ruth while instructing the audience on how to use a condom. My favourite quip: "Pretend you're Diana Ross, reach out and touch the dick!" I'm sure Miss Ross was not amused! "Sho Nuff Danjus" proves a fitting end to an outrageous but always entertaining evening with one of music's most colourful and captivating characters.
"Back To The Shit" has been out of print for years and was only released on CD in Japan. It's worth looking for a copy on Ebay. "Back To The Shit" occasionally pops up but can be quite expensive.