Agony Shorthand

Wednesday, February 12, 2003
THE BANGLES REVIVAL STARTS HERE…..I’m not really sure why a massively MTV-huge band like THE BANGLES can’t get their early, way-out-of-print stuff out on a CD, but I’m going to start the lobbying campaign right here and hope you don’t laugh too hard until you’ve finished reading this post. I think their hitmaking work is so embarrassingly dated and associated with such a full-on chart-friendly sell-out assault (“Burning Flame”? “Eternal Flame”? yep that’s it), that they’re mostly thought of as a bad “oh, you know those eighties” joke to most folks – and deservedly so. That stuff is just godawful, but unfortunately we know every word. See, but their debut EP on IRS Records, “The Bangles”, is to me a near-perfect 60s pop music masterwork – from 1982, no less. The five songs, which are “Real World”, “I’m In Line”, “Want You”, “Mary Street” and the New Zealand 60s punk rock classic “How Is The Air Up There?” – have got harmonies that absolutely soar, like the best Spector-esque girl pop; but unlike the Shangri-Las or Ronnettes, everyone in this band could sing lead, and sing lead exceptionally well. The arrangements beckon less to by-the-numbers hook-based pop and more to the dirtier, guitar-based 60s revival scene that was going on in Los Angeles at the time. Their fellow travelers were the LA “paisley underground” bands – who actually had musically little in common -- Dream Syndicate, the Three O’Clock, Rain Parade, and Green On Red. The first release of theirs, a 1981 7” called “Getting Out Of Hand / Call On Me” on DownKiddie Records, is also fantastic. It’s Swingin’ London, Brill Building & Girls In The Garage all at once. Definitely in need of a comping, as this changes hands for $75+ on eBay. I don’t know, if you’re looking for a “September Gurls”-style pop fix that you haven’t heard before, you might want to start here. Bring on the reissue!