Agony Shorthand

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

One of those CDs that lay dormant and unlistened-to for 18 months until I forced myself to pry it out of hibernation to give it a “love it or sell it” spin. It made the cut. As an unabashed 60s girl group enthusiast, I’d never been bowled over by these Romulan “Girls In The Garage” comps when there were out on LP only, and my first listen to this one when I got it a while back resulted in another tired shrug. But it’s clicking now. This CD collects most of the first two volumes of the out-of-print LP comps and adds everyone’s second-favorite girl garage track, the BELLES’ “Melvin” (a raw tongue-in-cheek update on “Gloria”) – the first being Suzi Quatro’s PLEASURE SEEKERS and the wild drinking anthem “What a Way To Die”. Add a few new ringers to the list: not one but two versions of the stomping “You Don’t Love Me” by KIM AND GRIM and THE STARLETS, and my favorite on this CD, “Only Seventeen” by obvious New Yawk gals THE BEATLE-ETTES, who incorporate a few Beatle-isms in the track itself but otherwise reign with great harmonies and fun, uptempo surf-styled tunage. Why not girl garage bands? The liner notes indicate they were ubiquitous across the fertile plains and high schools of America in 1965-67, and their inept tunings and ham-fisted playing styles are right in line with their teenage male contemporaries. There’s definitely more male svengali action and less original initiative with the girl bands – many of these are Phil Spector productions/creations; only the rawest and fuzziest of the tracks seem to speak to true, naïve, let’s-start-a-band-in-our-garage gumption. And hey, girl voices are just better. You’re not going to find any barnburners on the level of the “Back From the Grave” compilations, but there’s enough moxie & hidden charms within the 27 tracks to probably make this worth your while.