thing 19: best of web 2.0

This assignment asks us to look at the Web 2.0 Awards and pick a site/tool to play with. I looked at both this year’s and last year’s lists and couldn’t find anything that interested me that I hadn’t already tried or am using on a regular basis. I guess that’s one of the benefits (hazards?) of having a lot of twopointopian friends — I may not be on the bleeding edge of shiny new technology, but I can at least see the contrails.

are you ready to rock?

Yup, these “girls” have got some rhythm. Here are thirteen tracks of all-female tribute band goodness.

The marketing for Girls Got Rhythm might make one think that the performers on the album are more of the novelty types than real musicians, but the opening licks of “Thunderstruck” makes it quite clear that is not the case. These “girls” have more than just rhythm — they know how to rock.

Assembled on this album are some of the best recordings done by some of the best all-female rock tribute bands. There are a few AC/DC groups (Thunderstruck, Hell’s Belles, and Whole Lotta Roses), and a couple of Kiss bands (Black Diamond and Kissexy), and the rest of the album is made up of a wide range of classic rock tribute bands from Cheap Chick (Cheap Trick) to Zepparella (Led Zepplin).

Tribute bands are not the same thing as cover bands. There are a lot of bands that play an occasional cover tune or make up their entire live performance with songs originally performed by other people. Tribute bands focus on one specific band and seek to emulate them in every way, from each note and arrangement of the music to the clothing they wear. With that in mind, it is no surprise that this album rocks in the way one might expect from a compilation of classic rock tunes.

cover of Girls Got RhythmGirls Got Rhythm is a mixed bag of rock styles, and, for example, it feels a bit odd to go from the lush sounds of Zepparella’s “The Lemon Song” to Kissexy’s hormone-driven power-rock “Lick It Up”. There was some effort in making the compilation flow from one song/style to the next, but it is still a little rough in places. Essentially, this CD is an assortment of all-female tribute bands, and the ultimate goal is to introduce the listener to what is out there. In that, it succeeds quite well.

There are a variety of music fans who will enjoy this CD. Fans of the genre or the original bands will enjoy hearing a slightly different take on their favorite songs. Music fans looking for an introduction to the genre of tribute bands will find this to be a valuable overview of and even smaller subset of all-female tribute bands. And finally, anyone who simply enjoys a bit of estrogen in their rock ‘n roll will definitely need to include this CD in their collection.

Girls Got Rhythm is a nice reference to AC/DC, and it fits better on the spine than These Women Will Rock Your Socks Off, but in all honesty, the latter would be a more appropriate title for this compilation.

don’t lay that shit on me

Second-wave feminists in the late 60’s and early 70’s had a rock and roll voice, sung by bands such as the Chicago and New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Bands.

The Chicago and New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Bands and Le Tigre – Papa, Don’t Lay That Shit On Me

Second-wave feminists in the late 60’s and early 70’s had a rock and roll voice, sung by bands such as the Chicago and New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Bands. Precursors to today’s riot grrl and queercore bands, they broke through and gave women in the liberation movements their own rock and roll anthems.

In 1972, Rounder released a record called Mountain Moving Day consisting of four songs each from the Chicago and New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Bands. It was an attempt to capture the power of their live performances, and neither band was experienced with recording in a studio. This shows through in the roughness of the arrangements, but only if one is looking for it. The power of their songs and the statements they made to women and rock goes beyond these technical issues.

Continue reading “don’t lay that shit on me”

the slits

One of the first female punk bands of the late seventies was the Slits. Never heard of them? You should.

One of the first female punk bands of the late seventies was the Slits. Never heard of them? You should. They toured with better known acts such as the Clash and White Riot, but did not gain the long-term fame and attention of their tour mates. Koch Records has recently reissued their 1979 recording Cut on CD with two bonus tracks, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Liebe and Romanze.”

When the band formed in 1976, none of the members could play instruments very well, but thanks to the punk movement of the time, that was no impediment to their musical creation. Cut has minimal instrumentation, with heavy emphasis on vocals and percussion, but it works. The producer, Dennis Bovell, came from a reggae background, and this is evident in the recording. The combination of reggae and punk stylings with a feminist approach to rock music gives the recording its unique sound.

It is obvious that the Slits influenced many of the all-girl bands of the 80s like the Go-Go’s and others. The retro music revolution that is sweeping through modern indie bands should pause and take a page from the Slits, as well. Their use of repetitive musical and non-musical sounds, call-and-response, and emphasis on lyrical song crafting are techniques well worth paying attention to.

Don’t expect to find this band on your top 40 radio station or MTV (do they even show videos anymore?), but if the music directors at the college stations are paying attention, this reissue will be heating up the CMJ charts, if it isn’t already.

Article first published as The Slits – Cut on Blogcritics.org