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*Alright, this one was forwarded from mail, so i'd like to thank SunRae for sending it in the first place, and ALECIA for having the heart to forward it to me!*

ANI DIFRANCO'S THE REAL DEAL, SO MOVE OVER, ALANIS by Tina Maples

In the early years of rock, any hit song worth its weight would be followed immediately by two or three cover versions: To capitalize on the success of the original, other musicians would race to release their versions of the same song. In these clone-crazy days, we don't have cover songs, we have cover people. The ink on Alanis Morissette's first platinum sales certificate hadn't even dried before the race began to find the next Angry Young Woman with a chip on her shoulder and a mouth that, in less enlightened times, would have been summarily washed out with soap. Well, everyone can stop looking now. Patti Rothberg and Tracy Bonham and Joan Osborne can go about their business. The original Alanis is finally getting the recognition she deserves. And her name is Ani DiFranco. Add some rock production and a few more pop melodies, and DiFranco's eight folk-punk albums could have been the blueprint for Morissette's 13 million-selling 1995 U.S. debut, "Jagged Little Pill." It's all there: The raw emotions and snapped-off syllables. The nervy delivery and out-there enunciation. The on-a-dime shifts from sweet crooning to full-out ranting. Those naughty words. Morissette sold the sound to the masses. But DiFranco -- who appears Saturday at the Eagles Ballroom with her bassist and drummer -- did it first. And she still does it better. Thanks to word of mouth about her impassioned live shows, cult favorite DiFranco began to attract mainstream attention with her seventh self-released album, "Not a Pretty Girl." By turns sarcastic, sincere, angry and funny, it covered everything from obsessive love to abortion with naked emotion. Critical attention intensified with last year's "Dilate," DiFranco's devastating account of her tortured and humiliating affair with a married man. On April 22 she'll release her ninth solo album and first live recording, the two-CD "Living in Clip" -- "clip" being a reference to her tendency to blow out her amps in live shows. Like Morissette, DiFranco plays the tough-vulnerable card and sometimes champions the obvious emotion. But she's far better at burrowing under the skin in a way that leaves her listeners smarting -- and begging for more. Morissette's signature revenge "You Oughta Know" is a nursery-school rhyme compared to the controlled but scathing vitriol of "Untouchable Face," a "Dilate" love-hate song whose unprintable chorus is all the more subversive for its ironic sweetness. Most often, the source of DiFranco's anger is her own vulnerability. In the raging "Outta Me, Onto You" she cautions: "Just remember that I love you / Just remember you were warned." She's a skilled producer as well. Her trip-hop take on "Amazing Grace" is one of the highlights of "Dilate." Recently, she gave a similar treatment to the spoken words of troubadour Utah Phillips on an album, "The Past Didn't Go Anywhere." Morissette was still a perky Canadian teen pop queen seven years ago when DiFranco, now 26, started Righteous Babe Records in 1989 in her native Buffalo, N.Y. She'd started singing at age 9 in a troubled household whose secrets are one of the few aspects of her life not detailed in her music. By 15, DiFranco was an emancipated minor with her own apartment, doing odd jobs and nude art modeling to pay the bills between coffee house gigs. The lesbian community was among the first to discover DiFranco, who wrote about her romances with both men and women. Alongside earnest "women's music" folkies such as Ferron and Holly Near, DiFranco, with her big boots, pierced nose and multi-colored hair, was the equivalent of a 5-foot-2 Molotov cocktail. Rolling Stone jumped on the bandwagon just as the Morissette buzz was building in late 1995, naming DiFranco one of its most promising artists. Beyond her music, DiFranco has displayed the kind of business savvy that makes do-it-yourself acts like Fogazi salivate on their Doc Martens. Her last tour generated $2 million. And although she's sold only 600,000 copies of her eight albums combined, thanks to a low overhead she makes $4.25 a record, more than half the average royalty for major-label artists. DiFranco could almost certainly make more money with major-label distribution, selling more records for a smaller percentage. Label offers have been pouring in, but so far she's refused to give up creative control, which runs from production through album cover art. The resulting musical vision couldn't be more completely hers. But the rewards belong to her listeners. So if Morissette's next record doesn't prove as fruitful as the first, don't worry. Alanises might come and go, but DiFranco is always there, being herself with a vengeance.