Girls With Guitars Know Why!

Label: Ace Records.

Format: LP.

There are very few compilation series that are still going strong after thirty-one years. Often, the compiler has run out of material or musical tastes have changed. However, Ace Records’ Girls With Guitars compilation series is still going strong after thirty-one years and six volumes. The most recent instalment in this long-running and successful series Girls With Guitars Know Why! It has just been released on transparent violet vinyl and features fourteen tracks from the golden age of girl groups and she pop.

This golden age began around 1964 and continued right through to the dawn of the seventies. The fourteen tracks on Girls With Guitars Know Why! were recorded between 1965 and 1970 in Britain, America and New Zealand by guitar-wielding groups like Goldie and The Gingerbreads, The Belles, The Chymes, The Chicks, The Bea’s, The Debutante, She and Girls Take Over. They’re joined by Glenda Collins, Sandy Edmonds and Denise on a compilation that includes everything from frat rock and she pop to garage rock. On each track that compiler Mick Patrick has chosen guitars are to the fore on Girls With Guitars Know Why!

Opening the compilation is Look For Me Baby by Goldie and The Gingerbreads. They were formed in New York in 1962, and released their debut single Skinny Vinnie in 1964. When they travelled to the UK they signed to Decca and in January 1965 had a hit with Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat. After this, Shel Talmy became their producer and the group recorded a number of songs that were never released. This included their cover of the Ray Davies composition Look For Me Baby. It was belatedly released on the Kinked! (Kinks Songs and Sessions 1964-1971) compilation in 2016 and this oft-overlooked dancer makes a welcome return on Girls With Guitars Know Why!

Side One.

The Belles were formed in South Florida by fourteen year old guitarist Debbie Teaver. She was joined by drummer Pat Hunt and sisters May and Marina Perez who also played guitar. Soon, the nascent group was playing at the local air force base and at dances for teenagers. When the group recorded a demo, it was heard by Mana Productions who asked the group to record a single. They recorded a Melvin which is a feminised cover of Van Morrison’s Gloria. It’s  without doubt the rarest record on the compilation and nowadays, changes hands for upwards of $500.

Glenda Collins recorded her cover of John D. Loudermilk’s Thou Shalt Not Steal with Joe Mme who arranged and accompanied her. Part of his band was a young guitarist called Richie Blackmore. His guitar plays an important part in this driving, stomping anthem that was released on HMV in 1965. It’s one of the highlights of the compilation.

The Chymes were a short-lived girl group from Santa Barbara that featured three sisters. In 1966 they released their one and only released single on Ruth Conte’s Chattahoochee Records. This was the double-A side He’s Not There Anymore and Quite A Reputation which has been included on the compilation. It’s a welcome addition with jangling guitars, a swirling Hammond organ and the cascading harmonies accompanying Candice’s lead arrangement.  

Closing side one is Come See Me by Sandy Edmonds who was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire, England and emigrated to Takapuna, New Zealand when she was fifteen. Just a few months later she was discovered by Eldred Stebbing the owner the Zodiac label singing in a youth club. He signed her to his label and she opened for The Beatles at Auckland Town Hall in 1964.  Two years later, in 1966, Sandy Edmonds reinvents The Pretty Things’ Come See Me and swaggers her way through this fuzzy makeover of a familiar song.

Side Two.

Many people will know Denise Kaufman as Mary Microgram, who was one of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters. She studied at Berkeley College and was originally a folk singer. Her career was transformed when she met jazz musician Lonnie Hewitt. That was when she wrote a song about her ex-boyfriend Jann Wenner, who went on to cofound Rolling Stone magazine. Denise as she was billed snarls her way through Boy, What’ll You Do which was released as a single on the Wee label in 1966. A year later, she cofounded Ace Of Cups which nowadays is regarded as one of the first all-female rock bands. 

Between 1965 and 1970 The Chicks enjoyed a number of hit singles in their native New Zealand. They released a defiant cover of Lee Hazelwood’s The Rebel Kind on Impact Records in 1966. It was the only single they released for the label. Despite that, it’s one of the hidden gems in the group’s back-catalogue.

Ruth Conte signed a number of girl groups to her label Chattahoochee Records. Some of them were more successful than others. Great things were forecast for The Bea’s 1966 single Nothing Can Go Wrong. Sadly, success eluded what’s one of the finest examples of she pop on the compilation, and it was the only single they released on the label.

The Debutantes were formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1964 by fourteen year old singer Jan McClellan. She was a student at Detroit High School, which was where she met Ted Nugent. His opening words were: “girls can’t play.” Two years later, in 1966, The Debutantes had released their debut single Shake A Tail Feather. By the time they recorded a cover of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s We Gotta Get Out Of This Place in 1968 there had been a number of changes in the group’s lineup. Sadly, the song was never released until 2018 when it featured on a compilation released by BeatRocket entitled The Debutantes. It’s proof that girls can play and Ted Nugent was wrong, very wrong.

Closing Girls With Guitars Know Why! is Stardust Come Back by Girls Take Over. Initially, the group featured Rinie, Wendy and Cindy Wilhemis from Wisconsin. Later, they were joined by bassist Geri Gibson. This was the lineup of the group that recorded and released Stardust Come Back on Pentagon Records in 1969. It’s a quite magical and beautiful way to close the album and a fitting tribute to Cindy Wilhemis who passed in 2017 just before the release of Girls With Guitars Take Over!

Thirty-one years after the released of the first instalment in the Girls With Guitar series Ace Records recently released the sixth volume in this long-running and successful series. This was Girls With Guitars Know Why! which has been released on transparent violet vinyl. It’s definitely an album that stands out from the crowd. Especially given the quality of music. There’s a reason for this.

Rather than making the Girls With Guitar series an annual occurrence, Ace Records have decided to concentrate on quality rather than quantity. It’s nearly three years since the previous volume Girls With Guitars Take Over! was released. Just like its predecessor the latest instalment in the series doesn’t disappoint. No wonder, as Girls With Guitars Know Why! features fourteen songs from the golden age of the girl group and she pop. They feature familiar faces, new and a sprinkling of hidden gems in what’s another welcome addition to the Girls With Guitars’ series.

Girls With Guitars Know Why!

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