Top 10 All Female Rock bands

With today being International Women’s Day I felt this would be a great day to honour hard rocking ladies. I know there are a ton more, and since I chose to go in a harder rock vein, there will probably be some here that you had not heard of, or forgot about. Either way, here they are:

10) KiTTie – This London, Ontario band was formed in 1996. They sprang to the scene in 2000 with their debut album, Spit and even though fully in the Nu Metal scene, they did not sound like any of the Limp Kornskit wannabe bands out there at the time. They had a myriad of bassists over the years, and have not released any new material since 2011, but have never broken up. The video below features the recently deceased former bassist, Trish Doan (RIP)

9) Babes In Toyland – This Minnesota band had their peak in the early 90`s. They were sort of at odds because the front woman, Kat Bjelland looked so cute in her baby doll dress, but she could scream her punk fueled lyrics like a banshee. From the mid 90`s to early 2000`s they were constantly breaking up and reforming but in 2001 they called it quits. They have since reformed again in 2014. They only ever released 3 studio albums, but influenced a great deal of musicians of both genders.

8) The Donnas – This California band formed in 1993, and achieved mainstream success in the early 2000`s by mixing punk, metal and hard rock. All of the band members took on the first name of Donna, hence the band name. There are constant rumours of a new album, but their last album was in 2007, and their last performance was in 2012.

7) L7 – Another band from California that formed in 1985. They took their name form a 1950’s slang meaning square (uncool). They were a popular 90’s band featured in many festivals of the day including Lollapalooza. They went on indefinite hiatus in 2001 and reformed again in 2014.

6) Phantom Blue – Another California band, Phantom Blue formed while members were students of Paul Gilbert and Bruce Bouillet at the Guitar Institute of Technology. The band were the first and only all female band to be signed by Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records, and their debut LP was produced by Marty Friedman (who also was a guest shredder on their second album). with all of these positive metal influences, the band was sure to succeed, and they did well until their breakup in 2001. The video below shows the axe work of Michelle Meldrum(RIP), the widow of Europe guitarist John Norum.

5) The Slits – The early version of this band was a straight up, all female punk band from London England in the mid to late 70’s playing alongside The Clash, Subway Sect, The Innocents and more. Some fighting with manager Malcolm McLaren led to the departure of drummer Palmolive, and she was replaced by male drummer Budgie (later of Siouxsie and the Banshees). The band changed styles a bit and got a little more commercial, but eventually broke up in 1982. They reformed in 2005 until the death of founder and lead singer Ari Up(RIP).

4) Fanny – One of the first noticeable, all female bands, the third to be signed to a major label, and the first to record an album was the California band, Fanny. David Bowie was quoted as saying about the band “One of the most important female bands in American rock has been buried without a trace. And that is Fanny. They were one of the finest… rock bands of their time, in about 1973. They were extraordinary… they’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever; it just wasn’t their time. Revivify Fanny. And I will feel that my work is done.”

3) Vixen – Another Minnesota band, Vixen was formed in 1973, and moved to los Angeles in 1985, and signed to EMI in 1988. They were part of the glam metal scene of the 80’s but broke up in 1991. They have since re-formed, and their last studio album was in 2006. The band was in the movie The Decline Of Western Civilization II-The Metal Years along with many of their L.A. musical peers. The original lead guitarist of the band, Jan Kuehnemund (RIP) died of cancer in 2013.

2) Girlschool – The world’s longest running all girl band is this NWOBHM band from London England. They formed in 1978, are still going today, and have released 13 studio albums, 6 EP’s and many compilations and live albums. The Canadian connection to the band is due to album sales. Canada is the only country in which their album sales went gold. This was for their second album, Hit And Run(which in North America, was actually a compilation album that included songs from the first two Girlschool albums).

1) The Runaways – This short lived, Los Angeles band was only together from 1975-1979, but they released 4 albums during that time. Two of the members, Joan Jett and Lita Ford went on to even bigger fame after the bands demise. Although The Runaways were not as well received at first in their home country, they did well in Canada, Britain, and especially Japan. Their live album, Live In Japan, became one of the biggest selling import albums in US and UK history. The drummer Sandy West(RIP), a heavy smoker, succumbed to lung cancer in 2006.

Are there any I’ve missed? Feel free to comment.

Happy International Women’s Day, and unlike a certain President, I actually do have a great deal of respect for women.

Ontario Bands Week: Album Review – Death From Above 1979 – You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine (2004)

DFA 1979 are a very unique band. They are a duo with no guitars. Just a bass, some drums, and sometimes some keyboards. The magic noises that Jesse F. Keelor can get from his bass are incredibly new and unique. The first time I heard this band I had no idea it was a bass making all those weird squeals and squawks.

The album was produced by Al-P(who is in Jesse F. Keelor’s other band MSTRKRFT), and mastered by Joao Carvalho.

Turn It Out – This song should be called Turn It Down because about 10 seconds in those high pitched bass squealies I mentioned earlier will be enough to blow your speakers or your eardrums.

Romantic Rights – This song has an infectious beat and a mix of ‘normal’ bass sounds and what sounds like an evil, futuristic robot noise.

Going Steady – Sounds like an old school punk song at the beginning. Then Sebastian Grainger pounds the drums into submission. The vocals sound like Sebastian is speaking through a voice changer, but that is because Jesse is plucking his heavily modified, supercharged bass strings at the same time Sebastian is singing.

Go Home, Get Down – This song has some noisecore in it. The bass sounds a bit like motorcycles racing past and Sebastian’s vocal chords probably hurt a bit after singing that one.

Blood On Our Hands – I figured at some point since this was a 2 piece, there would have to be a comparison to The White Stripes. This song has elements of The Hardest Button To Button. Since Meg has left the music business, and Jack wants to soldier on, I can’t help but wonder how great a band if Jack White and DFA 1979 joined forces. I can only imagine.

Black History Month – The bass groove is very infectious here. The lyrics are thoughtful and Grainger’s beat is almost danceable.

Little Girl – I can well imagine this song would go over well at a rave. A fast paced groove that never lets up the pace through the entire song.

Cold War – I could almost hear this one redone by a punk band. A fast pace and some attitude. That’s all a punk rocker needs.

You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine – The guitar work is wonderfully droning and the drums soldier on.

Pull Out – I am pretty sure this song is about person who has a car stuck in the ditch and after you hook the chains onto the car, that person keeps yelling “Pull Out. Pull Out. Pull Out.”

Sexy Results – If it had been written in 1977, this song may well have unseated Stayin’ Alive for the best of the disco era, plus there are cowbells, so it has one up on the BeeGees.

One very annoying thing are the lyrics for all of the songs are pasted together in small print on the inside of the bi fold, in no particular order.

A very solid first album from this unique band. Looking back to the Nu Metal and Nickelback clones that were big in 2004, this was a new and refreshing change.

9/10

Ontario Bands Week: Album Review – Anvil – Anvil Is Anvil (2016)

Anvil has always one been one of those “cold have, should have” bands. They should have been more famous. They should have gotten more respect. In fact, with their lack of success they should have quit long ago. However, they trudge on. I personally think they keep trudging on because they really love what they do for a living. How many of us can say that? Who cares how many albums they have sold, and whether they can sellout arenas any longer.

Daggers And Rum – I was assuming this was going to be a hokey pirate song. Well, it kind of is but it actually kicks some ass.

Up Down Sideways- Lips does his best Lemmy impression here. Robb Reiner does an amazing job as usually. The drums are loud and proud, and the bass is booming at times, and playful  at others.

Gun Control – A Canadian metal band starting off with the lyrics “Protect the Constitution….”. I guess this is a shot at our neighbours to the south. The guitar and cowbell are stars here for me.

Die For a Lie – More awesome drums mixed with rhythmic guitars. Also more cowbell, so I’m roped in.

Runaway Train – The train noise at the start reminds me of a Monster Truck song, then Robb pounds on the skins. If you have not heard his drumming before, you really must. He may be the most overlooked and underrated drummer in metal, if not in rock period.

Zombie Apocalypse – Another title that makes me think hokey. The background chants are pretty cool, and of course Rob pounds us into submission. Not near as hokey as I has assumed.

It’s Your Move – This is a song in tribute to Lemmy. Unfortunately it’s a very simple song that is a bit of filler.

Ambushed – This has a Megadeth feel to it. Especially the guitar work, and the fast pace. If you like the Peace Sells and Countdown era of Megadeth(who doesn`t),you will like this song.

Fire On The Highway – A faster paced, almost thrash song. Lips almost does a cross between James Hetfield and Lemmy here.

Run Like Hell – Great guitar work mix with amazing drumming kick this one off. It`s too bad the vocals are a little weak, and the song itself is just a slight level below the rest.

Forgive Don`t Forget – A heavy metal chant song. Almost reminds me of Balls To The Wall by Accept. This is actually fitting since Accept is German. The song is in reference to the treatment of Jews during Nazi Germany.

Never Going To Stop (Bonus Track) – Robb starts pounding the drums at a frenetic pace and he keeps it up for most of this song. Lips sings this song in sort of an angry tone. It suits the song well. He has the snarl of a punk singer, and he wants to get it through your thick head that they are never gonna stop. I for one, believe them, and am pretty happy about that.

You Don`t Know What It`s Like – The guitar is the star here for me. A few slight squealies are fine on an album as long the guitarist doesn`t abuse them. Lips adds just the right amount. Also there is more cowbell. Maybe not quite enough for Christopher Walken, but enough. “To make a living doing what you love is all you should need….”. I couldn`t have said it better myself.

This album was produced by Martin Pfeiffer who may be best known for working with U.D.O. (maybe that is where the Accept crept in). He does a great job here. The album sounds great, and the instrumentation was not crushed or muffled as can sometimes happen.

I read a ton of negativity about this album online before I started this post, so I guess I will be in the minority. But, frankly Scarlet, I don`t give a damn. I like this album, and I don`t really care who knows it. I don`t love it, but I do really like it. There are a few glitches. The bonus tracks could probably be substituted on the regular version with a few others, but overall a really good record.

8/10

 

Ontario Bands Week: Album Review-Billy Talent-Billy Talent (2003)

Billy Talent started out with the band name Pezz. 4 high school buddies toiling around the Toronto area playing bars and staying under the radar. They releasedone album under that name, but ran into legal trouble and changed the name to Billy Talent, which I assume was an homage to the character in the amazing movie Hard Core Logo. Then in 2001 with a friends connection at Warner Music they signed record deal. That year they released an EP, then in 2003 this self titled album was released. It was nominated for rock album of the year at the Junos, has sold over 3 times platinum in Canada, and was voted 453 in Rock Hard magazines top 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums Of All Time. I will give a little warning that a few of the videos have content that some may find disturbing. The video for River Below and Nothing To Lose both made the 50 Most Controversial Videos Countdown on Canadian music channel MuchMusic.

This Is How It Goes – A song that Ray can relate to. “That’s just how she goes, Bubs.” The guitar work, bass, pounding drums and piercing vocals let you know this won’t be a quiet night in with grandma.

Living In The Shadows – Great, twangy guitar work with alternating crunchy riffs, pounding drums and booming bass. The mix of quiet and screaming vocals and the cool background harmonies make this song great.

Try Honesty – The lead single has amazing musicianship, wonderful vocals, both in lead and background.

Line & Sinker – Both the vocals and the background sound angry and shouting at most times, but not in an annoying way.

Lies – This song tones it down a notch, and is a welcome addition. The bass booms beautifully on this one.

The Ex – The second single has a punk attitude and fast pace with some meat on the bones and anger bubbling just below the surface.

River Below – The third single is simple an amazing song. The song is about the downward spiral of a war vet who has degraded to the point in which his illness compels him to setoff a bomb. “I’m sick and I’m twisted. I’m broken you can’t fix it, don’t make me, ’cause I’ll do it, red button and we’ll all go……..Into the river below…..”

Standing In The Rain – A song about runaway turned drug addicted street prostitute. As the father of a teen girl, this one hits pretty hard.

Cut The Curtains – The beginning of this song reminds me of an awesome metal song. I can’t quite place it, but the guitar work is awesome.

Prisoners Of Today – I enjoy the quieter guitar in the middle, and the background vocals are great.

Nothing To Lose – The 4th single is a really, really heavy song. Not heavy as in loud(although it does have some), but heavy subject matter regarding teen suicide. Another song that hits hard for me. Billy Talent donated $1 to Kids Help Phone in Canada every time that song was played on the radio.

Voices Of Violence – I am not sure what this song represents. I think it is about the  voices of those that were killed will never go away.

9.95/10

 

What was your most expensive concert?

This morning I logged onto to Tickemaster to check for Metfan pre-sale tickets to see Metallica. I was shocked and appalled to find out the tickets ranged in price from $170-208 each. Ummm. Yeah. No thanks. C’mon boys. I have been supporting you for over 30 years. Have all of your albums. Bought your boxsets. Saw you live. Became a member of your fan club. Gave you great reviews. Defended you this week here on these pages. But if this is the way you treat your loyal fans, I may have to dial it back a few notches. I’m sorry but multi millionaires do not need to gouge the average joes that love your music. The Rogers Centre holds over 50,000 people in seats. Plus the general admission on the field. Do the math. The figures workout to over $1 million dollars for about 3 hours of work. Some of us may not make that in our entire life. I loved when you made a surprise show last year at a bar in Toronto and tickets were $25-50, and we were asked to donate an item of food for the food bank. This latest concert ripoff just lost all cred I gave you then though.

Ok. Enough of my rant. Please let me know in the comment section your thoughts on this. Am I wrong?

Also, what was the most you ever paid for a concert with the details?

 

Ontario Bands Week: Gordon Lightfoot -Gord’s Gold (1975)

The mid 70’s were good times for Gordon Lightfoot. He had written many songs that he and other artists took to number 1. In 1975, after 10 studio albums he released Gord’s Gold, a 21 song greatest hits package that included many of his best songs. In hindsight, he would sell many more albums after this, but only a few songs would ever be as popular as the ones on this album.

Songs 1-9 were re-recorded for this album. Gordon said it was because he did not like how his early songs sounded. I wonder if it was because he would not have to pay royalties to his old record label.

Of these early songs, 2 stand out for me.

Canadian Railroad Trilogy – This song represents early Canada for me. Like Stompin’ Tom Connors, Gordon is proud of his country and has no problem telling you that in song.

Early Morning Rain – The quiet acoustic guitar blends wonderfully with Gord’s beautiful voice. The lyrics are of missing loved ones. I can imagine Gord wrote those during long stretches away from home during tours.

The remaining songs on the album are mostly all amazing so I will highlight the majority of them.

Sundown – The bass is awesome on this song. Also Gord’s voice is wonderful and the background vocals are great. Also the lyrics are top notch. “Sundown. You better take care. If I find you’ve been creeping ’round my back stairs. Sometimes I think it’s a sin. When I feel like I’m winning when I’m losing again.” This song was apparently about his then girlfriend Cathy Smith (who later went on to be involved with John Belushi’s death). Gordon was quoted assaying Cathy was “the one woman who most hurt me.”

Summer Side Of Life – The vocal harmonies and background singers really set this one apart from most of Gordon`s songs. The guitar playing is pretty cool too.

Rainy Day People – The steel guitar is the hero for me on this one. It is like an old school country song mixed with a Jimmy Buffet song.

Cotton Jenny – This song may be best known as an Anne Murray song, but it was written and performed a year earlier by Gordon Lightfoot. Such a happy go lucky song. Gordon must have been in a great place in his life when he wrote this. Of note for me is the great harmonica playing and the awesome enunciation. It reminds me of Buddy Holly when he sang Peggy Sue Hoo Hoo.

Don Qixote – The mandolin is the star for me. No wonder. It is played by none other than Ry Cooder.

Circle Of Steel – The recorder and dobro playing are the stars for me on this one.

Old Dan`s Records – The bass, dobro and guitar playing is awesome, and it`s a song about bringing out records, so I`m in like Flynn.

If You Could Read My Mind – This was Gordon`s first song to reach the American Charts. Gordon was going through a divorce during the writing in this song, and the lyrics may be his best. I would have to quote the entire song as it is so good. Also, the string arrangements are beautiful and Ry Cooder plays guitar and mandolin.

Cold On The Shoulder – His enunciation is the star for me here. He has an almost out East dialect. The bass, guitar and background lyrics are great as well.

Carefree Highway – Gordon`s voice is in peak form here. This may his best vocals of all time. A song about life on the road and how he neglected the woman he left behind. “The morning after blues. From my head down to my shoes. Carefree Highway. Let me slip away. Slip away on you.”

This is an awesome compilation. I would only substitute 1 song that was omitted Me And Bobby Mcgee. Gordon sang this song before Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin.

This will appeal to fans of Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Buffet, Ian & Sylvia.

9.75/10

 

 

Dear Grammy’s. Go F*ck Yourself

I have never really been a fan of awards shows. In my opinion they are rigged and really boring. Often the best movies, music, television gets ignored. Don’t even get me started on the Popular Music (I mean Rock and Roll) Hall of Fame. As a fan of heavy metal music I am appalled at the way metal artists are treated. The awards given out to metal artists is not even televised so we can see more footage of Beyoncé or Justin Bieber.

Last night 2 of the biggest names in heavy metal for over 30 years were insulted in what I consider a slap in the face. First the good. Megadeth finally won an award in the metal category. They deserved it. I loved Dystopia, and reviewed it last year. Dave Mustaine has been slugging out for over 35 years since being kicked out of Metallica. His band has put out some pretty awesome albums, but his songs are never on the radio, and he never gets any accolades. Finally the Grammys changed that and Megadeth won Metal Album Of The Year. While Dave and company were walking to the podium(it took a while since they were stuffed in the very back) the house band felt they should play Metallica. Wait. What? As I mentioned Dave was unceremoniously kicked out of Metallica. I believe this was a backward slap in the face. It may come out as a slip up, but someone had to know that the house band should either play a Megadeth song (there are hundreds to choose from), or even any metal song by any metal band other than Metallica. Perhaps this was an oversight, because it’s not like the people at the Grammys actually care about metal bands or their history, but it is still a slap in the face.

Speaking of Metallica, they were insulted twice last night. When performing onstage they were not announced. The actress at the podium announced the band as Jethro Tull. No that was another Grammy miscue. She only mentioned Lady Gaga. Never mind the other band she is performing with. Metallica? Nope, never heard of them. Hundreds of millions of records sold. Nope.

During the performance mysteriously James Hetfield’s microphone didn’t work. No other mics had issues all evening. Hmm. I wonder if the producers wanted to hear more Gaga. She was the only one announced on stage.

Can you imagine the shitstorm that would rain down on The Grammys if Beyoncé and Adele were snubbed. OMG. But since it is just metal bands no one seems to care. Well this guy does.

As I mentioned, I feel these things are rigged. Don’t get me wrong, I love David Bowie. I have my whole life. I cried the day he died. I bought his latest album Blackstar and reviewed it last year. What I do not like are The Grammys finally jumping on the Bowie bandwagon and handing out award after award to him. Sorry, guys it’s too little too late for me. I would bet every nickel I own that if David Bowie had not died, awards people would have ignored this album the way they have ignored all of his albums. Sorry Grammys, I can see right through you.

After this shamble of an award show I, and hopefully many of you can safely say:

“Dear Grammys. Go F*ck Yourself!!!!!!!”