Seasons greetings to y’all, and without further ado I’ll give you the lowdown on this issue’s theme. All female singing groups have long been a staple of pop music, from the innocent Andrew Sisters to the godawful Girls Aloud, but even today, all-female bands are still in the minority.
‘Twas even more so in the ’60s and ’70s (from whence most of our selections are picked) and the plucky lasses who strapped on a guitar or set about a drumkit in those days faced ridicule, disdain and blatant misogyny from the music industry on a regular basis.
So it is to these early pioneers that this particular Jukebox is dedicated. Footage is often scarce where it exists at all, even for the more popular outfits, but I hope you enjoy what could be rustled up, and find yerself a new favourite band among these hearty heroines.
1. GOLDIE & THE GINGERBREADS – Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat
Among the very first self contained American female groups to gain a recording contract, they scored a minor UK hit with this infectious ditty, seen here in a 1965 TV clip. After a couple of years and a handful of quality 45s, they split, singer Genya Raven (aka Goldie) going on to front the rock band Ten Wheel Drive in the ’70s.
2. THE LIVERBIRDS – ‘Why Do You Hang Around Me’
This rocking Merseyside combo were virtually unknown in the rest of the UK but were extremely popular in Germany, as this rare ITV appearance confirms, scoring some big hits there with their no-nonsense R&B sound.
3. THE BITTERSWEETS – ‘Hurtin’ Kind’
No footage of this Ohio group exists though some rare photos have surfaced. This superb single, cut in Cleveland, is a cover of a track by local heroes, The Tulu Babies (who were guys) and is a classic of it’s genre.
4. THE LUV’D ONES – ‘Yeah, I’m Feeling Fine’
One of the all time great lost female combos, and big favourites of your humble scribe. Three singles and a bunch of tantalizing demos is all that remains of this four-piece lead by ace guitarist Charlotte Vinnedge. Presented here is the breezy A side to their final release from 1966.
5. SHE – ‘Outta Reach’
Though only one single emerged during their lifetime; Sacramento, California’s She are something of a legend in garage rock circles. An album of all their recorded material, including early cuts as The Hairem, was finally assembled by Ace records in 1999 and is highly recommended.
6. THE HEART BEATS – ‘Cryin’ Inside’
Singing drummer Linda Sanders led this young Texas quartet, who achieved some local fame after winning a TV ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition. Here is their nifty cover version of Mouse & the Traps’ ‘Cryin’ Inside’
7. THE ACE OF CUPS – ‘Circles’
Although popular in their hometown of San Francisco in the late ’60s, and reportedly a favourite of Jimi Hendrix, this innovative band had to wait until the next century to see any of their recordings officially issued.
8. THE RUNAWAYS – ‘Cherry Bomb’
They were masterminded by notorious music svengali and hustler Kim Fowley, but The Runaways, featuring future solo star Joan Jett, were no mere puppets, and some of their spiky, Glam Rocky recordings verge on a punk rock sound. None more so than this gem from 1976.
9. THE SLITS – ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’
Embodying the true spirit of punk and proto DIY, these West London tearaways cut one of the finest LPs of the era with ‘Cut’ in 1979. Here’s a non LP B-side for your pleasure, and one of the more unusual Motown cover versions!
10. THE MO-DETTES – ‘White Mice’
This grainy footage is the only film known to exist of this punky foursome. Luckily it features their finest single, ‘White Mice’, a highlight of their short career. They are also the first band your Jukebox correspondent ever saw performing live.
11. ESG – ‘You’re No Good’
From New York’s gritty South Bronx came this intriguing group, originally based around the four Scroggins sisters, Rene, Marie, Valerie and Deborah. Their sparse, funky sound found popularity in the early ’80s UK underground scene, and they are still performing today.
12. THE BANGLES -‘ The Real World’
Of all our selected bands, this was the most successful. Their big hits featured a slick and commercial production, a far cry from the tight, charismatic, ’60s influenced sound employed for this, their second single from 1982.
13. YE NUNS – ‘Drunken Maria’ / ‘Wie Du Wie Du’
We finish off all up to date with a female supergroup of sorts. A list of Ye Nuns’ members’ previous bands would fill a whole page, but suffice to say, this talented, eccentric bunch have a musical pedigree as long as your arm, and although dedicated to covering the songs of cult ’60s garage band The Monks, they more than transcend their tribute group tag.
Curious listeners are urged to explore Ace Records’ three volume ‘Girls With Guitars’ CD series, which features many like minded ’60s acts.
Jaybyrd Slim is a DJ and co founder of long running cult club, The Nitty Gritty, based in Camden Town, North London. The next date is 11th October.
Listen to (what we could find of this) playlist on our Spotify account (Bibelot Magazine) and visit the Nitty Gritty Club Facebook page for up-coming live DJ events!