The world knows The Bangles, but do they know The Bangs?
The beloved all-girl pop band will forever be known for their timeless songs “Eternal Flame,” “Manic Monday,” “Walk Like An Egyptian,” and “Hero Takes A Fall,” and rightly so–those songs are excellent, superior pop songs that deserve to live forever. But as the hardcore fans know, the glossy pop is only a part of the story–and their early, independent years are quite a joy to behold. Cherry Red‘s wonderful reissue campaign focused only on their major label career, and are essential listening, but some–yours truly being one of them–longed for those early recordings, and now, Ladies And Gentlemen…The Bangles! corrects that wrong.
The Bangles began life as The Bangs, a three-piece band featuring Susanna Hoffs and sisters Debbi and Vicki Peterson, and had much more in common with the burgeoning Paisley Underground scene. Their first release is even more of a stunner: “Bitchen Summer,” released on a Rodney On The ROQ compilation, is straight-up Dick Dale surf guitar instrumental that impresses and sounds like nothing on this compilation–or in their vast career.
Their first single, “Getting Out of Hand” and “Call Me,” showed that the ladies were definitely inspired by The Beatles, the two songs, the former having a definite “Ticket To Ride” feel, while the jangle-pop of the latter sounds like a fun British Invasion band. This trend continued with their first EP, The Bangles, a brief excursion with IRS Records, and five songs of equally fun, Beatlesque pop. While these songs are definitely of a different nature than their later releases, “The Real World” and “Want You” definitely show that All Over The Place really wasn’t that radical of a sonic departure for the group.
It’s the unreleased material featured here that’s the real treat. Featuring demos, live recordings, and radio advertisements, these show a side of what the band was about. Covers of The Turtles (“Outside Chance”), Paul Revere & The Raiders (“Steppin’ Out) and Love (“7 and 7 Is”) are fun, faithful takes that shine a light on what got the band started in the first place, while the live version of “Tell Me” is a scorcher. ”
Contemporary fame would soon polish up their sound and turn these ladies into household names and radio staples, but throughout the years they’ve paid tribute by returning to this era’s sound and offering up takes of the classics that inspired them, (This writer recommends the rare-but-worth-it one-off supergroup Rainy Day‘s sole self-titled album.) Ladies and Gentlemen…The Bangles! corrects an absence in their storied career, and is definitely worth checking out.