Tuesday, August 18, 2020

12 More Forgotten Classics by Women-Led New Wave Bands

Here is the latest installment of forgotten gems by women-led new wave bands, this time by my Michigan childhood best friend Mark, whose hilarious Twitter account can be followed HERE.

For now it's the last one. But if you'd like to submit your own list, I would love to see it. Email me here.

The Pandoras, 'Stop Pretending' (1986)

I discovered The Pandoras the same way Kenneth's brother Bill discovered the Catholic Girls -- I loved the cover of their first album, “It’s About Time,” when I saw it on the wall at Off the Record in Royal Oak, Mich. Bought it and loved the garage sound of all of the fun songs. Fast-forward a few years later and they released the brilliant “Stop Pretending.” The lineup changed a bit but as long as Paula Pierce, Melanie Vammen, and Kim “The Muffs” Shattuck were in the band I was happy!

The Cucumbers, 'My Boyfriend' (1983)

This is the only song I know by this band. I had a promotional copy of the LP but no other song caught my ear like the fun, perfect song, “My Boyfriend.” I still know no other song by them and I don’t care to. :)

Vertical Pillows, 'Jump Back' (1985)

I was obsessed with these Detroit darlings' 45 single "Jump Back" and another song they had called "Born to Love." I always thought they'd be much bigger than they ever became, but, at least we have YouTube.

Nikki and the Corvettes, 'Summertime Fun' (1980)

I should’ve just purchased anything on Bomp! records in the '80s. There’s no question I would’ve loved it including another Detroit band that put out that fast new wave beach sound. The manager of the record store where I worked (Record Outlet in Roseville, Mich.) knew Nikki personally and I was star-struck just knowing someone who KNEW Nikki Corvette! They were mildly popular in the Detroit area and from what I heard, Nikki went to Hollywood after the band broke up to try her hand at acting. My manager, Lynn, told me Nikki played a waitress in a scene in “Body Heat” but, “Don’t blink or you’ll miss her!” That’s all I know about the band and her other than the fact that I loved this album and have no idea what happened to the vinyl I used to have of it. I’m sure I sold it to a used record store when I needed a few bucks back then.

We’ve Got a Fuzzbox (and We’re Gonna Use It), 'Spirit in the Sky' (1986)

Another album I bought just because of their look and the fact that they were all girls! Saw them once at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit. One member (Jo?) had a broken leg but did the concert with a cast and on crutches. The sound was pure "fuzzbox" sound -- which is how they got their name. An accidental sound they got out of their amplifiers they decided to make their trademark!

Unit 3 With Venus, 'Pajama Party' (1982)

Classic L.A. KROQ fun new wave! I don't know much more than that about this early '80s fun group!

Karen Finley, 'Tales of Taboo' (1986)

I think everyone knows "Tales of Taboo" from performance artist Karen Finley but just in case. I never saw her smear yams on her ass in concert, but always wanted to. :)

Anne Clark, 'Our Darkness' (1984)

This song and the next are PURE TODD'S -- the greatest new wave/gay club Detroit ever had! Every Monday and Thursday night you could hear these two songs BLASTING as you walked drunkenly through the cloud of cloves at the front door!

Vicious Pink,'“Cccan’t You See' (1984)

See "Our Darkness."

Pat Wilson, 'Bop Girl' (1983)

Super fluff lightweight pop/new wave Australian songstress Pat Wilson. I only knew this one song by her but I hear she was pretty big Down Under.

Lene Lovich, 'New Toy' (1981)

Detroit's own Lene had two BRILLIANT songs that I know of and I'll bet you do, too! "New Toy" and "Lucky Number"! I could play both over and over 24/7.

Nina Hagen, 'Born in Xixax' (1982)

This song is not only hilarious, it's THE sound I loved most from Nina Hagen. "Nunsexmonkrock" and "In Ekstasy" were two of my favorite '80s albums of all time.


The 'B' Girls, 'Fun at the Beach' (1979)

Just discovered this all-female band (1977-1981) from Toronto while looking to make sure I didn't miss anyone for this list and thank God I checked! Yet another album I would've purchased just based on the cover. This song is the epitome of the fast new wave/beach music sound I have always loved!


The ‘B’ Girls with (Debbie & Nigel Harrison of) Blondie and Rodney Bingenheimer at the Whisky a Go Go in 1979. (Photo by Theresa Kereakes)

The "B" Girls first came to my attention when they were credited with singing backup on the song "Live It Up" on Blondie's "Autoamerican" album. (Legend has it the movie "The Fabulous Stains" was inspired by the "B" Girls.) Model Citizen has more about their story -- relocating from Toronto to NYC's downtown CBGB/Max's scene, opening for the Clash, B-52s, Undertones, demos produced by Debbie Harry ("Two Hearts"), and interest from Phil Spector and IRS Records -- HERE.

Although they were robbed of a major-label deal, the band's collected recordings were released on CD in 1997 under the title "Who Says Girls Can't Rock."

From a 2019 interview with "B" Girls bassist Cynthia Ross:

Do you remember the first time you met Debbie Harry?  

Ross: It was probably at a show at CBGBs or Max’s … Debbie gave me sage advice about the music business and also introduced me to her lawyer early on. I have a lot of respect for her. She’s extremely talented, and in control of her career. The ‘B’ Girls opened for Blondie a few times in Toronto and we became friends. Debbie came to a lot of our New York shows and once she agreed to produce us she did our sound at a show. She did this to prepare for the studio. In the studio she was fantastic. We trusted her and she knew our sound. She didn’t try to change anything about us. She just captured who we were. Debbie produced two songs for us in 1980. They are on our record that recently came out on Bomp. When I gave her a copy … she said “Congratulations, you really deserve it!” We are still friends and she hasn’t changed with success.

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