Just a little ahead of their time, if Salem 66 were at their peak today they would be no doubt be big news. Instead, they are the influential older sisters of many current women-led rock bands and are fondly remembered by those of us living there at the time as one of the best bands of mid-'80s Boston. Judy Grunwald and Beth Kaplan (guitar and bass, respectively) were Salem 66's brain trust, and despite their off-kilter melodies and clashing, not-always-melodic singing, they created a churning, idiosyncratic pop sound that was loaded with smarts and enthusiasm, even when their technical limitations were apparent. But like other technically limited performers both male and female, that never prevented Salem 66 from stretching out and wailing full-on. After a tentative debut EP debut in 1984, the band hit its stride with the release of the accurately titled A Ripping Spin the following year. With a popularity in the then-alternative rock press that went outside the Boston, Salem 66 were becoming one of the hippest bands on ex-Bostonian Gerard Cosloy's painfully hip indie label Homestead. But their momentum peaked quickly and soon Salem 66, not helped by increasingly patchy recorded work, were old news. Too bad, since they were a great live band, and their best recorded moments hinted at something beyond wonderful.
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