Josie & the Pussycats

Josie and the Pussycats [Capitol]

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Were Josie & the Pussycats a real band or a bubblegum one? Well, they were both, sort of. It's true this music was used for an animated kid's TV series based on comic-strip characters, with Josie & the Pussycats "playing" as a band during the episodes. But their songs, ten of which are on their one and only rare LP, were sung by pretty accomplished vocalists, particularly Patrice Holloway, sister of soul star Brenda Holloway. That doesn't make this album a major musical landmark by any means, but those who would dismiss it as lightweight kiddie stuff might be surprised to find that it's fairly sturdy soul-pop. "Stop, Look, and Listen" has to count as one of the best early Jackson 5 imitations ever, and although it has a female singer and not a male one, that really doesn't make a difference considering how high Michael Jackson's voice was in 1970. "You've Come a Long Way Baby" is another high-quality entry in the daughter-of-Jackson 5 sweepstakes. The covers of contemporary pop hits by Bobby Sherman, the Carpenters, and (surprise) Michael Jackson do weigh down the record a bit, but otherwise it's catchy, upbeat-period AM-style pop done with more sincerity and finesse than anyone would have expected. All of the songs are on the Rhino Handmade reissue Stop, Look, and Listen: The Capitol Recordings, which adds no less than 18 bonus tracks from non-LP singles and previously unreleased material.

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