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FRICKE’S PICKS

It is not patronising to call the Cocktail -Slippers ”“ five women from Norway who make their own garage-rock racket and sing their you-done-me-wrong songs with avenging-angel-army harmonies ”“ a girl group. It’s straight shooting. The line from Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit ”˜She’s a Fool’ and Connie Francis’ 1964 single ”˜Don’t Ever Leave Me’ to […]

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David Fricke Jul 25, 2009
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It is not patronising to call the Cocktail -Slippers ”“ five women from Norway who make their own garage-rock racket and sing their you-done-me-wrong songs with avenging-angel-army harmonies ”“ a girl group. It’s straight shooting. The line from Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit ”˜She’s a Fool’ and Connie Francis’ 1964 single ”˜Don’t Ever Leave Me’ to the Slippers’ robust covers on Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre (Wicked Cool) runs right through the no-pushover sugar of the Shangri-Las and, in Slippers singer Modesty Blaze’s challenging purr, Blondie’s Deborah Harry. The Slippers also draw, expertly, from the boys in love with that sound ”“ the Ronettes-with-fuzz yearning of the Ramones; Bruce Springsteen’s way with Brill Building mini-opera ”“ in the shiny charge of ”˜Sentenced to Love’ and the carousel-organ rolls in the title track (written by Springsteen guitarist and Slippers co-producer Steven Van Zandt). In full hosanna, in songs such as ”˜In the City’ and ”˜Gotta Crush,’ the Slippers sound a lot like the Go-Go’s but with gats instead of LA cheer, and a mule kick in their high heels. It’s all retro action but written and detonated with the study and delight of modern rock & roll women in constant touch with their inner filly.

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Destroy That Boy!

Here’s a shock: The mid-Sixties vixens on the hilarious and delightful retrospective Destroy That Boy! More Girls With Guitars (Ace) were bossed around by guys ”“ Jack -Nitzsche, Steve Cropper and Sly Stone among them ”“ who produced these two dozen singles and wrote virtually all of the songs. But control of the mike is nine-tenths of the law on Karen Verros’ tough 1965 pearl ”˜You Just Gotta Know My Mind,’ the Debutantes’ sassy ’67 gender reversal of “Shake a Tail Feather” and film kitten Ann-Margret’s ’68 acid-pop swoon in “You Turned My Head Around.” The oddest daddy here: Miles Davis collaborator Teo Macero, who produced the What Four’s bizarre deadly-Shirelles flop “I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy” in 1966.

Bonus Mars Volta

Weirdly arriving just before a new Mars Volta album, Cryptomnesia (Rodriguez Lopez Productions) is nominally a side project by the band’s guitarist-composer. But El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez Lopez are really a five-piece Volta, including singer-lyricist Cedric Bixler Zavala, pressing their precise fusion of rhythmic hysteria, Rodriguez Lopez’s circular-riff assault and Bixler Zavala’s bleating psychosis into something like pop-song length, like 2005’s Frances the Mute in high-voltage microcosm.

Big-Band Sugar and Brawn

Led by guitarist-conductor Greg Tate, New York’s Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber
is a fleet-footed big band, sliding and -swaggering through galactic R&B, brawny jazz and electric funk like a Sun Ra-size
spin on Miles Davis’ On the Corner band. Making Love to the Dark Ages (LiveWired) also comes with extra black rock: kinetic soloing by guest guitarist Vernon Reid of Living Colour.

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