In the litany of all-girl 1960s garage bands, there cannot be a more powerful and compelling entry than She. 14 of their best recordings, pressed on 180g cerise vinyl.
100% authentic, She played their own instruments, sang and wrote their own striking original material and copped one hell of a bad attitude that would put most self-proclaimed rebel boy bands to shame. Appealingly crude in their early incarnation as the Hairem, by their later years She was truly a force to be reckoned with, and as unusual and significant as any punk band, male or female, from the golden era of the mid-to-late 1960s.
The constants in She were Nancy Ross and her younger sister Sally. It was after attending a Beach Boys concert in Sacramento in 1964 that Nancy flashed on forming a band. Sally was only 13 but immediately elected to play bass. School friend Karen Kochie joined on rhythm guitar, Kathy Pennison became the drummer, and Piper Minas was added on lead guitar. The Hairem’s music was crude, forthright and remarkably original. The songs ‘Not For Me’ and ‘Like A Snake’ are pure insolence, while ‘Come On Along’ and ‘Hey You’ are alternately innocently childlike or spookily seductive.
By late 1967 the line-up had changed to the Ross sisters, guitarist Kathy Rice and drummer Ginny Revis. While they played occasional gigs at parks and love-ins, the band found more work on the club and college circuit. Joann Claudianos joined and duetted lead vocals with Nancy, adding an Airplane-ish element, as evidenced by a demo cut in early 1969 with new drummer Reesha Scarborough and Karen Luther on organ. The group were now known as She, after Henry Rider Haggard’s book. ‘Feel Like Giving Up’ and the outrageous ‘Bad Girl’ date from this period.
In 1970 She finally made a record, for Los Angeles’ Kent Records. The single featured ‘Outta Reach’, a tour-de-force of femme-psych with Nancy’s defiant vocal, Karen’s weaving organ fills and an insistent chugging bassline from Sally. Shortly afterwards, the final She sessions showed considerable musical prowess without losing any of the rough edges that characterised the group as far back as the Hairem. ‘Roll On’ and ‘Piece Of You’ both have the assured arrogance of a female Stones, whereas the more introspective ‘Braids Of Hair’ demonstrates their versatility.
She finally came to a natural end in 1971 as the members got older and pursued other interests, although most of them continued in music in one form or another. When their recordings were first issued in 1999, girl garage aficionados marvelled at the intensity these young women had displayed in their youth. The interest coaxed a knowing smile from Nancy, who sadly died a few years ago. Her spirit, however, is very much alive with the remarkable sounds on this album.