Various Artists

Girls Got Rhythm!

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Timed to celebrate the Liquor & Poker label's third anniversary of existence, Girls Got Rhythm! is a collection of hard rock and heavy metal standards as covered by 13 of the world's most acclaimed all-female tribute bands. Which may not seem all that shocking a concept to open-minded denizens of the new millennium until they actually hear what these virtual anthems to testosterone sound like after benefiting from a woman's touch. Said anthems range from works by heavy metal giants like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, to hard rock stars like Kiss and Cheap Trick, to punk rock icons like the Ramones and Misfits, to no less than three AC/DC tribute bands. Starting with the latter: both L.A.'s Thundherstruck and Seattle's Hell's Belles deliver excellent, nearly note-perfect renditions of the Aussie legends' "Thunderstruck" and "Back in Black," while the "Dog Eat Dog" turned in by the Whole Lotta Rosies (also from L.A.) is a little rougher in execution, but just as entertaining in the end. Two Kiss tribute bands -- both in full makeup and leather getups, of course -- make slightly more flawed appearances: Cincinnati, OH's Black Diamond because singer Shannon "Starchild" Davis is somewhat lacking in vocal presence, and Italy's Kissexy for cheating -- their stand-in for Ace Frehley is a man, baby! You can also dock a few points from the United Kingdom's Ramonas and L.A.'s Foxey Lady for actually bothering with mannish vocals in their bid for realism, but otherwise their contributions are just dandy. As are Mistress of Reality's meticulously retro-fitted romp (i.e., it sounds like it was recorded in 1970) through "Fairies Wear Boots, and Zepparella's (featuring former members of all-chick stoner rock band Bottom) proficient treatment of the always tricky "The Lemon Song." Singular talents provide the highlight for other tribute acts on hand: the cleverly named (and suitably Devilock'ed) Ms. Fits could challenge the "Evil Elvis" himself with the powerful pipes of singer Patty Lagana (aka Gwen Standzbig), and the Ozzy Osbourne-worshiping Little Dolls have a six-string dynamo in Sara Marsh (aka Rakk Wylde). Finally, rounding out the proceedings with must-hear submissions are the power pop perfection of the timeless "Surrender," as performed by L.A.'s wonderfully authentic Cheap Chick, and the galloping "Run to the Hills," rendered to perfection (or as close to perfection as one would want) by L.A.'s incredibly accomplished the Iron Maidens -- who have become semi-legends in their own right. And that about does it for the compilation, which doesn't disappoint one's high expectations for such a fabulous idea.

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