In 1989, back in the days of vinyl, Ace Records issued their first collection of "Girls With Guitars". Some young folk out there worship that album, it seems. Now, after a mere 15-year wait, a second compilation is unleashed. Grey area releases abound in this bizarre musical genre, where the sounds of 1960s girl groups and garage bands collide in a mess of grunge and glamour. Ace give those pesky b**tl*gg*rs a lesson in how to do the job properly, natch.
Pride of place, and half the space, is given to a clutch of gen-u-ine axe-toting all-girl bands. Goldie and the Gingerbreads hold the highest profile, their four tracks dating from a time when their fame had spread not much further than Greenwich Village. They would soon become fixtures on the British scene, touring with the Stones and the Kinks. Cover stars the Girls were a sister act from Los Angeles, so highly regarded in the biz that guitar manufacturers Fender sponsored them. Dylan liked them so much he hired them to play at his birthday bash. Back in the day, the Pandoras were constantly in demand on the college circuit of New England, as were the Daughters Of Eve in the environs of Chicago, yet parking lot gigs were the speciality of the Hairem, Sacramento's answer to the Shaggs. The Hairem would achieve greater notoriety as She, also included here.
Philly-based Kathy Lynn and the Playboys were one and the same group as funky instrumentalists the Buena Vistas, it transpires. If you've read the book On The Bus you might be familiar with the name Denise Kaufman, aka Mary Microgram of the Merry Pranksters, Ken Kesey's infamous troop of hippie nomads. Previously, she had fleetingly led Denise and Company, purveyors of one of the most sought after of all garage girl 45s. On a different tack, offerings by the Percells and Al Casey with the K-C-Ettes are direct descendents of Duane Eddy's (Dance With The) Guitar Man, while Sugar and the Spices actually comprised Casey's wife and the former Mrs Eddy. The said Corky Casey is interviewed in the action-packed 20-page booklet, along with Darlene Love of the K-C-Ettes, drummer Debbie Pomeroy of the Daughters Of Eve and Patti Valentine of Cincinnati duo the 2 Of Clubs. Also from Cincy, soul trio the Charmaines lend their voices to a track by axe-god Lonnie Mack. They also backed up James Brown in their time - 'nuff said.
Were Shadow Morton's Beattle-ettes (sic) and the Shangri-Las one and the same group? How do Memphis's own Shangs-clones the Goodees sound doing a Swingin' Medallions biggie? Is Pat Powdrill and the Powerdrills' cut the best slab of West Coast girl-psych around? And did the Angels and the Tomboys play their own instruments, or just sound as if they did? (He asked, patronisingly). Listen and decide for yourselves.
What's in store for Volume 2? Find out in another 15 years, I guess.
By Mick Patrick