Back in the 1990s, at the height of the stupid grunge movement and gossipy “battle of the dress” between Courtney Love and Babes In Toyland’s Kat Bjelland, there was Paula Pierce and her wild, marauding band of ladies, The Pandoras. If you think either one of those women–both of which we love and respect greatly and equally––were the origins of that style, Think again. Paula Pierce had to look, the attitude, and the talent; that badass style of those early 90s rockers belonged to her. Tragically, Pierce never got to be the star she rightly deserved; her band was already on life-support when she died suddenly from a brain aneurysm in August 1990. Two of her former bandmate, Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vammen, had just recently formed their own band, The Muffs.
A few years ago, a very auxiliary and quite tenuous former member of the band launched her own version of the group, utilizing the band name, releasing new material, and touring. (Don’t bother checking it out, as the music itself is dreadful.) Shattuck and Vammen rallied several former members and relaunched the band, not as a new group, but as a tribute to Pierce; instead of new material, they focused on classic Pandoras tracks as well as many of the handful of unreleased songs the band had recorded for their ill-fated major-label debut. Even more exciting was the knowledge that they discussed going into the studio and rerecording many of these unreleased numbers. Hey! It’s the Pandoras, a seven song EP, has just seen the light of day. If anything, these songs show just how talented of a songwriter Pierce as, as well as how talented her bandmates were. Shattuck handles the vocals, and sound exactly the way one would expect Pierce would have sounded had she not passed away so suddenly. The songs are brimming with confidence, swagger, and an out and out no bullshit attitude. Nowhere is this more evident than on “You Burn Me Up And Down,” which stems from 1986 but it sounds like the best Riot Grrrl song you never got to hear. That’s not hyperbole, nor is it a case of the band adopting a new style for an old song, either; listen to the original demo and be impressed as hell by Pierce’s piercing cry.
Hey! It’s the Pandoras is both a labor of love as well as an introduction to one of the best bands of the 1980s, one that never got its fair chance to conquer the world. More importantly, though, it’s just some damn good rock’n roll, and the wild and free spirit of Paula Pierce lives on…
Hey! It’s the Pandoras is available now from burger records.