Nuns

The Nuns

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San Francisco punks the Nuns are remembered today -- if at all -- as the first blip on Alejandro Escovedo's march to finding his voice as a singer/songwriter. But that's not fair, because the Nuns had no trouble standing out in a scene that produced such a wealth of distinctive bands. No less than three people share the microphone, though Jennifer Miro -- who sounds uncannily like her Blondie counterpart, Deborah Harry -- possesses the most appealing voice. Miro's glacial keyboards also carry the main melodic load on tracks like "Suicide Child" -- which laments a friend's self-destruction -- and "&Walkin' the Beat," a salute to city night life. Guitarist Pat Ryan is also a distinctive presence, lending the appropriate quota of muscular barre chord parts on "Media Control," "World War III," and "Child Molester" -- which takes an unlikely look at the issue from the offender's eyes ("Where are they gonna put me?"). Old friends also fall out in "Getting Straight," which gives the punk-versus-mainstream wars yet another airing. But it's Miro's barbed charisma that captivates -- whether she wants someone to be her "Savage," proud of being "Wild," or simply "Lazy." The latter number is a solo piano ballad on which Miro asserts that falling in love is too bothersome, so she'd rather just watch TV. It's a lovely admission of vulnerability from behind the hardbitten sheen. Where the Nuns could have gone from here is anybody's guess -- since this is such a schizophrenic album -- but worth revisiting as a minor classic of the late-'70s punk era.

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