Various Artists

Girls With Guitars

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To clear up some inevitable confusion right off the bat, this does not feature the same music as the 1989 LP compilation also titled Girls With Guitars, which came out on Impact, a subsidiary of Ace, the same label that put out the 2004 CD also titled Girls With Guitars [Ace]. The 1989 Impact LP bearing this title was devoted entirely to '60s female British acts, with the exception of Goldie & the Gingerbreads, an American band who were based in Britain in the mid-'60s. The 2004 Ace CD called Girls With Guitars [Ace] has 24 entirely different tracks, all of them by American-'60s girl groups, many (though not all) of whom played their own instruments. Goldie & the Gingerbreads appear on the 2004 Girls With Guitars [Ace] as well, but are represented by four mid-'60s tracks that don't appear on the 1989 Girls with Guitars LP. Got all that? Moving on to the music, it's okay and usually competent enough to avoid categorization as mere novelty. But it's not great -- it's mid-level period-'60s rock (actually from 1963-70), reflecting girl group, soul, British Invasion, and pop-rock trends of the day. Some of it has the raw guitar rock approach associated with garage rock, but not all of it does, by any means. Few will have heard of any of these acts, save perhaps Goldie & the Gingerbreads (whose tracks are only so-so); one-time Ikette Pat Powdrill, represented by an atypical (for her) piece of typical 1966 L.A. flower power pop/rock, "They Are the Lonely"; and, perhaps, She, who got some notoriety decades later after Ace issued a CD of that garage band's material. There's also Lonnie Mack, who's not a woman, of course, but whose "Sticks and Stones" featured vocals by women singers the Charmaines. Some of the standout tracks are the Beatlettes' "Only Seventeen," one of the most British Invasion-influenced songs on the disc (as if you couldn't tell from the group's name), though some of the melody borrows liberally from Lesley Gore's "She's a Fool"; "Help Me Boy," the Daughters of Eve's awkward, gender-adjusted cover of the Animals' hit "Help Me Girl"; the Girls' moody 1965 single "My Baby"/"My Love"; and the 2 of Clubs' version of Petula Clark's "Heart" (which actually charted in Billboard in the "bubbling under" section of the Hot Hundred in 1966), a song strong enough that it's hard to ruin, though both Clark and the Remains did better versions. This anthology will benefit from much stronger distribution than the many volumes in the Girls in the Garage series, the best-known anthologies of the small-'60s girl group/garage group genre. But to be honest, if you cherry-picked the best tracks from that series into one or two volumes, you'd have collections that would blow Girls With Guitars [Ace] out of the water.

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