TRANSVOCALIZERS : Drag Queen by Copper

| Sep 13, 2010
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CD review

drag_queenA while back, I heard about a band called Copper, with a transsexual lead vocalist by the name of Meaghan Ball. Originally from Buffalo, New York, other members of Copper were: Joe Lucca, guitar; Sam Falbo, guitar; Steve Mack, bass; and Tim Turcott on drums. Their only full-length album project, Drag Queen, also featured Garrett Klahn on bass.

Copper has since ceased to be, but they left an album that’s almost a historical document to a specific moment in music. Drag Queen was released in late 1994, with the band also releasing a self-titled 7 inch EP earlier that year. While this is Copper’s only albums, what’s interesting is Ms. Ball’s voice. Her singing is somewhat reminiscent of Debby Harry, although more because of the phrasing. Ball’s range is slightly higher, and she has a spot on feminine quality that’s remarkable.

Musically, the project touches on several sub-categories of punk music from the era: hard core, thrash, emo, but also delves slightly into more standard rock and even prog from time to time. In short, if you’re extremely familiar with punk of the mid-1990’s, Drag Queen by Copper could almost be considered progressive for that genré.

Of the project’s 9 tracks, 8 are vocals with the album’s closer, Studebaker, being instrumental.
The pure thrash/punk moments are found in Sissy, Sentimental, There’s A Place In Hell, and Serial Killer.

It’s on tunes such as Serial Killer that the band members of Copper show their musicianship. While it’s definitely thrash, it’s also very close to current nu-metal, and is actually one of the more intense tunes on Drag Queen.

copperOther moments that show off the band’s excellent sense of dynamics include Tuesday’s Child, Freckle (which includes this great line, “you crush me with your smile”), and the aforementioned Studebaker. As an instrumental, this tunes shows off the best dynamics of Copper as a band. Although there’s no stellar guitar solos (…hey, it’s punk after all…), the cut is a good example of what true ensemble playing can sound like in a rock format. Granted, it moves from thrash to punk to hard rock and even to a brief bit of prog, but it’s great playing, and it takes some tight musicianship to pull off that many genre’ changes in one tune.

The two stand out tracks on the project are the title cut, and an actual ballad entitled Caption.
This would be a good time to mention Meaghan Ball’s lyrics. She’s not going the route of talking incessantly about being trans, but at the same time, almost all her lyrics have no relation to the title of any given song. They’re actually more poetry than lyrics. The closest thing to a trans reference, and a good example of her writing style, is the title song Drag Queen.

“Please put your hands down, you’re frightening me
I’m quivering, I’m shivering, I’m shuddering, I can’t even breathe
So I hollar, I stand my ground
Then my palms hit the wall
My face hits the tile
My head is spinning around, I can’t go on
All my hope is gone, my integrity is lost
My wrists full of marks, my boundaries are crossed
I’ll pull myself up, wipe the mascara to the side
Pull the pin from my hair and kiss it all goodbye”

Perhaps this could be about a very desperate drag queen, but it’s hard to tell. Nonetheless, Meaghan Ball and Copper left a good sized dent in the collective punk consciousness of the 1990s with Drag Queen.
The band broke up soon after the album came out. There was a rumor that some major label was looking to make them the new Cranberries, but that was only a rumor. Ball moved to California where she became involved with other bands, most notably Idle Hands ( on their album Building A Desert), and is also said to have been in the band Scrimmage Heroes. That one is hard to verify, and this is where it all gets a little hazy and confusing in researching her. Hopefully she’s still out there making music — that voice is just to powerful and perfect for her not to be doing something.

If you’re a fan of punk when it was done by truly starving artists on virtually no-budget indie labels, then find this CD. It has the kind of energy that makes the search worth it.

There’s no web site for the band, and while I did find another band named Copper, it’s not the one mentioned here. does have the CD. You’ll have to check around for other sources.


kelis_fleshtoneKelis Flesh Tone
CD review

On first listen, Flesh Tone seems like stripped down club fare. While the project’s nine tunes maintain a very minimalistic approach, you begin to understand that’s the entire idea by the time you’ve heard the entire album.

This is Kelis’s first album in four years, and was started while she was pregnant and without a record deal. “I knew I didn’t want to do what I’d done on any of the records I had made before,” she said in a press release. “I was in search of a new sound, and I wanted something that reflected what I was listening to, that was more electro, house, dance based.”

If that’s what Kelis wanted, that’s what she got. The album starts with Intro, which is definitely dance material, but with a pseudo-classical keyboard backing. At the song’s end, there is a brief spoken word part: “we…control… the…dance floor”. This directly ties into 22nd Century, which is also minimal in its approach.

Most of the album carries on in that vein. However, there are some fine musical moments. 4th of July (fireworks) takes leave of the minimal approach briefly, as does Acapella, which is Kelis’s best vocal performance on the album.

The project closes with a truly stand out track that is also the most personal for Kelis. Song For The Baby is definitely about her son, Knight, and she uses the song to share a small piece of family background. “There was this little melody that my dad used to always sing to me,” she said. “I flipped that a little bit, and put it in the bridge of that song. So it’s three generations of music connecting.”

Recorded in her home studio, Flesh Tone has achieved for Kelis what she wanted-back to basic dance material with some grit to it.

For production and musician credits, you’ll have to check out the CD insert. Also, check out

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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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