Category: Jean Millington

TURN IT UP! Joe Walsh with The James Gang, “Walk Away”, 1971

The James Gang was one of those bands that hit so much harder live than on their studio records that it’s almost impossible to believe that they’re the same guys. Their two 1971 albums offer the perfect contrast, Thirds (a solid but tame record from whence comes this glorious single), and James Gang In Concert, recorded in May 1971 at Carnegie Hall and released later that year.

I’m surprised the hall was still standing when they were done. It’s the loudest slab of vinyl I’ve ever put on a turntable – even with the volume turned all the way down, the racket coming straight out of the needle scraping through the grooves unamplified was flat out unbelievable. Very much in keeping with the ethos proclaimed in the liner notes of the previous year’s James Gang Rides Again“Made Loud To Be Played Loud.”

This performance from Germany’s Beat Club, first aired July 24, 1971, somewhat splits the difference between the civilized, if still loud, studio band, and the utter savages (in a good way!) of James Gang on stage. Surely you’ve already pressed play, and heard Joe Walsh absolutely ROAR into this thing. If all you know of him is what you’ve heard on the radio or with the Eagles, you’re in for an eye-opening, and ear-opening delight.

I had once thought of this song as a pleasant bit of science fiction. The MAN in the song is the one who wants to talk about his feelings and where the relationship is going, while “you just turn your pretty head and walk away.” Riiiight. Because that’s how men are. Just won’t shut up about relationships.  ‾\_(ツ)_/‾

Well, maybe Joe really IS that way, because the song sounds pretty damn persuasive, and other than being a little condescending, it’s not especially mean, which automatically sets him above most men of the day.

(1971 was the first great year for a wide swath women artists in classic rock, but women as a lot were alas still not faring well at the hands of male writers. Still aren’t, either, which is a story for another day.)

I actually started rethinking this song when I read what Stevie Nicks had to say about Joe Walsh, whom she describes as “the great, great love of my life.”

image

She said of their breakup: “It nearly killed me. We had to break up or we thought we’d die. We were just too excessive.

We were busy superstars and we were doing way too much drugs. We were really, seriously drug addicts. We were a couple on the way to hell. 

But there was no closure. It took me years to get over it — if I ever did. It’s very sad but at least we survived. 

He was the one I would have married, and that I would probably have changed my life around for a little bit, anyway. Not a lot. 

[my note: the fact that she concedes that she’d have changed only a little bit, and only “probably”, suggests that she’s maybe not exaggerating the rest.] 

There was no other man for me. I look back at all the men in my life, and there was only one that I can honestly say I could truly have lived with every day for the rest of my life, because there was respect and we loved to do the same things. I was very content with him all the time. That’s only happened once in my life. 

This man, if he’d asked me to marry him, I would have. There was nothing more important than Joe Walsh — not my music, not my songs, not anything. He was the great, great love of my life.(more here)

So on top of being better at relationships and rocking harder than you might have thought, he’s also a terrific technical guitarist, and a hilarious storyteller. I heard him tell a story on the radio in 1988 or so, involving him and George Harrison, that I’ve never seen documented, but I dropped everything I was doing to listen. 

I even remember exactly where I was – in the back room of the bookstore I managed in Washington, DC, way past time to go home, but I didn’t want to miss the end of the story during the long walk to my car.

This is paraphrased, but it’s pretty damn close. I started telling this story to everyone within earshot right away, and you’ll get why. 

image

(btw, I don’t have a picture of Joe and George together, although they shared a stage a time or two. There are quite a few pictures of Joe and Ringo, though – not only did Joe play in some editions of Ringo’s All-Star Band, they’re married to sisters! Marjorie and Barbara Bach, so yeah, they’re brothers in law.)

Anyway, Joe said that the one piece of advice he gives every guitarist trying to learn the instrument, “Learn to play every song The Beatles ever did, and sound exactly like they did. Doesn’t matter if you hate The Beatles or don’t want to sound anything like them when you’re done, because once you can play everything they played, exactly the way they sounded, you can do anything that it’s possible to do on a guitar.”

Well, there was one song that was vexing him, the very last one that he still couldn’t figure out – “And Your Bird Can Sing” from Revolver. When he finally got it, he was beside himself. He called up George Harrison to make sure he was home (both fellas were living in Los Angeles at the time), said, “Stay there, I got something you gotta hear!” 

He packed up his amps and his guitar, drove over to George’s house, and started setting up. “What is it?” asked George. “Just wait,” replied Joe, and kept setting up. 

When Joe finally unleashed a note-perfect “And Your Bird Can Sing”, George fell out of his chair laughing. “How the hell did you do that?” “Well, it took me long enough to figure out,” Joe said, “so I was going to ask YOU how YOU did it.”

George said, “The way *I* did it was John and me playing in unison, and then double-tracked! I can’t figure out how you did it by yourself, even though I just saw you do it!” 

Well, Joe was left feeling pretty good about himself, managing to sound like the equivalent of four Beatles guitarists all by himself, if a little exasperated to have spent so much time figuring out something that he should have known better than to try – but he did it anyway. THAT’s Joe Walsh for ya.

I hope you’ve already hit play AGAIN on that blistering take on 1971′s “Walk Away” up top, because Joe really was killing it that year. There’s more to him than you probably think, too, so if you’re into the heavy guitar thing, you should definitely do some exploring.

Led Zeppelin fans in particular, I’m looking at you. Joe and Jimmy were friends from Jimmy’s days in The Yardbirds, and it was Joe who said, man, you’ve gotta quit monkeying around with that Telecaster. When you’re ready to rock, switch to a Les Paul – and indeed, Jimmy bought his first Les Paul (known as “#1″) from Joe in 1969, for $1200, which Joe says he flew out to hand-deliver to Jimmy. Says Jimmy, “Joe brought it for me when we played the Fillmore. He insisted I buy it, and he was right.”

(btw, nifty pic from Joe’s Twitter feed of him and Jimmy hanging out after LZ’s February 12 show at The Garden in 1975!)

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I wouldn’t want to say that Led Zeppelin’s approach to live jamming was necessarily influenced by James Gang, but I’m saying that they were similar and Joe got there first. LOL And seriously, if you dig live Zeppelin, you NEED to know more about live James Gang and early solo Joe.

(More details about #1 than anyone but a gearhead would want here, here, here, and here, but hey, maybe you’re a gearhead!)

To give you a head start for exploring more James Gang and early solo Joe, I’ll add one more video, from 1972, “Turn To Stone” featuring Fanny’s Jean Millington on bass absolutely slaying dragons on this monster. As Joe told Rolling Stone,

“Turn to Stone” was written about the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War and the protesting that was going on and all of that. It’s a song about frustration. Also, I attended Kent State. I was at the shootings. That fueled it, too. In those days it felt like the government’s priority was not the population. They had an agenda that was about something other than doing what was necessarily good for the country.

A few years later [in 1980], I decided to run for president myself. [Ed. Note: Walsh pledged to make “Life’s Been Good” the new national anthem.] I thought it’d be a great idea and I had fun with it. And the reason I did it is because there was, and there continues to be, a very apathetic attitude toward voting. There’s a total separation between the federal government and the people. So running for president was an attempt on my part to get people to care enough to go vote. But people just don’t bother. And that’s why it’s not working.

TURN IT UP!

Oh what the heck, and one more from July 20 1971, from the French TV show Pop2, “The Bomber” (from 1970′s Rides Again) which includes a quick little nod to “Beck’s Bolero” along the way.  (Well, technically I suppose, Ravel’s “Bolero”, and indeed, Ravel’s estate made them remove the reference from initial pressings of the album!)

And another note for LZ fans: Joe does some crazy stuff with his bare hands at around 2:30-3:30 going into “Bolero” that Jimmy did with a violin bow. THAT’s Joe Walsh for ya.

TURN IT UP!

mxjennylennon:

Fanny on the front of Disc Magazine; c. November 1971

     “…I mean, an all-girl rock group. Since rock-n-roll’s inception it’s been wet seats and screams for masculine idols, moving on to today’s “serious” musicians of rock who still provoke the same response. Girls, until now, have tottered around stage in tight sequined dresses waving their arms about and tinging to male back up musicians– plus a few forgettable female groups with guitars, and a couple of memorable girls with guts in their voices and delivery.
     "At London’s Speakeasy last Thursday the press, television, and radio people were invited to see the all-girl band, Fanny, play. I liked their album but somehow i didn’t believe that they did play on it, male chauvinist pig that I am. But they do and they did and they took three encores.“
     ”…Fanny may have to suffer the “freak show” attitude of audiences- but only once. After that once they could change the face of rock music- again, paving the way for the liberation of the female musician. –GAVIN PETRIE”

HELP COMPLETE DAVID BOWIE’S LIFE’S WORK: FALL IN LOVE WITH FANNY!

Play that thang up there while you read this. Turn it UP. 

The year is 1971. The band is Fanny.

That’s Nickey Barclay calling out the misogyny of the so-called progressive male leadership of the day (including the self-proclaimed moral superiority of the Jesus Freaks) taking women down a blind alley, pounding the keys as hard as anyone in 1971. Jean Millington’s voice right beside her, on a swooping bass rivaled only by John Entwistle and Chris Squire that year, June Millington crunching riffs and lead guitar alone with Pete Townshend at the top of that class, and Alice de Buhr bashing skins as hard as anyone this side of Bonzo.

Take care of yourself
This is your story
Your voice is shaking the walls
And they’re crumbling down

Fanny wasn’t just a pioneering all-women hard rock band: they were terrific, and you need to know about them. As David Bowie told Rolling Stone in 1999:

“They were one of the finest fucking rock bands of their time. They were extraordinary. They wrote everything, they played like motherfuckers, they were just colossal and wonderful. They’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever

“Revivify Fanny. And I will feel that my work is done.”

Let David tell you again: “They’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever.”

They weren’t even close to the first all-women rock group – after all, Fanny’s original trio of June and Jean Millington and Alice de Buhr had been in all-women groups as far back as 1963 – but they were the first to record a major-label album, 1970′s Fanny – and the first to achieve global acclaim.

1971 was the year it came together for Fanny, as the trio still known as Wild Honey added Nickey Barclay on keyboards (fresh from her stint touring as part of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen), all four of them singing and writing, and putting on a hell of a show – in 1971 in particular, starting January 1-4 at the Whisky on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. 

Those dates were supporting The Flying Burrito Brothers, but they were headlining by spring. They played so many shows there in the early part of the year that it became all-but-a residency.

The title track from their 1971 album Charity Ball hit the US top 40 (pic via), propelling them to appear on the premiere season of Sonny & Cher, Dick Cavett, The Old Grey Whistle Test in the UK, and Germany’s Beat Club, among many others. Opening for acts as varied as Van Morrison, Jethro Tull, Slade, Humble Pie, Lee Michaels, and so many others had Sounds Magazine observing in 1971 that it “seems that they are the support group to everyone these days.”

My guess is that a band of men with these chops would have been headlining more than just the Whisky long before this point. The reviewer of their 1971 Fillmore East show for the New York Times (”Fanny, a Four-Girl Rock Group, Poses a Challenge to Male Ego) observed that the merely polite applause they received would have been a standing ovation for similarly skilled men. 

He went on to note, “Fanny sounds more like The Rolling Stones than a pop choir. It plays basic rock’n’roll featuring a barrelhouse piano style and prominent bass. Where other bands (male in this case) might aim for some special jazz-classical-rock minutiae and miss embarrassingly, Fanny aims at basic gut rock’n’roll excitement and hits it solidly.”

While most of their songs were originals, they tended to have one cover per album. This cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “Special Care” from 1971′s Charity Ball (from Germany’s Beat Club) is one of my favorite performances of theirs at YouTube: Jean on lead vocals this time, with strong vocal support from all three bandmates.

Stick around for the last minute and a half, an instrumental breakaway: Nickey gives Elton John a run for his money, simultaneously whipped aloft on Jean’s soaring bassline and grounded by Alice’s syncopated beats,

with June single-handling the guitar parts of BOTH Neil Young and Stephen Stills just fine, thanks. TURN IT UP.

It’s unfortunate that their studio albums never quite captured that power. Their third album, Fanny Hill came closest, recorded in late 1971 at Apple Studios in London, engineered by Beatles board man Geoff Emerick. 

Their cover song this time around is, appropriately enough, a Beatles tune, the oft-overlooked “Hey Bulldog”. There’s no point starting a “did it better than The Beatles” argument, so I’ll just say I personally think they wore it out better and leave it at that. Feel free to disagree, but in any case, turn it up and enjoy.

Another reason to avoid any “better than The Beatles” scuffles: all four Beatles were fans and friends of Fanny’s. Other fan-friends included Little Feat, Joe Walsh, Gram Parsons, Rod Stewart, Deep Purple, Chicago, and the aforementioned David Bowie among many others. 

Indeed, Jean Millington sings on “Fame”, and later married David’s longtime guitarist Earl Slick – but not before she’d had a fling with David herself, immortalized in Fanny’s 1975 hit “Butter Boy” (which reached #29). (When asked if any butter was in fact involved, Jean laughs. “Er no! It was au naturel, if you will.”)

That said, one of the things that remains most remarkable to me is that Fanny absolutely did NOT emphasize their sexuality. Some of that was defensive. June and Alice are lesbians, and Nickey is bi, and their record label was desperate to keep a lid on it. Nickey later acknowledged that the pressure to protect themselves prevented her from acknowledging to herself that she was in fact bi, and always had been, until years after she left the group.

Even the “cheeky” marketing slogans (”Get behind Fanny”, etc) came from Nickey – more as jokes than not, but still, these were playful puns, and not backed with the sexist imagery that was all too common in the day’s marketing. The rather more explicit meaning of the band’s name in England was unknown to them when June suggested it as a reference to the spirit of womanhood watching over them. 

They had to put up with incredible shit along the way, including promoters who assumed that they’d be performing topless, because hey, why else would anybody come see a band of women, right?

(In some fairness, Nickey herself thought an all-woman group sounded like a gimmick. She didn’t even return the band’s first phone call asking her to join. It was finally Joe Cocker who told her to forget all that nonsense and just go for it.)

Of course, Fanny certainly embraced the more explicit English heritage of the word when titling their 1971-recorded album for the 18th century English erotic novel of the same name! When Fanny Hill finally hit the streets in early 1972, Rolling Stone raved about it:

“June Millington’s guitar work is superb, uniformly functional from both the standpoint of lead and rhythm–and as good as it is, it’s merely typical of Fanny’s ensemble playing throughout the album, which is full of melodic hooks exactly when they’re most needed…The number of groups that can inspire affection the way Fanny have with this album, simply from the pure exuberance of their music, are far and few between.”

There’s a bunch more to say about Fanny, and I definitely will, but mostly, I hope you take some time to just listen. I’ll end with a couple more clips from 1971.

This mid-tempo romp, “You’re The One” from The Old Grey Whistle Test in November offers great 4-part group harmonies, an especially tasty bass line from Jean, and a short but stinging lead from June at about the 2-minute mark.

I’ve got another that I’m not going to embed here because to be honest, it’s not that great, but their 1971 appearance on Sonny & Cher playing their hit single “Charity Ball” was historic: the first time an all-woman rock group had appeared on national TV – certainly in the US, but as far as I know, anywhere in the world. 

They lip-synced (as tended to be the rule in the US), which meant the milder studio version rather than the unleashed live versions I posted above… and it’s kind of hilarious how delicately Alice had to play the drums so that the rest of the band could hear the music track playback in the studio…but seriously, THIS HAD NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE 1971. AN ALL-WOMEN BAND PLAYING ROCK AND ROLL ON TV. So check it out when you get a chance.

But before you watch that, watch THIS version of “Charity Ball” from Dick Cavett, also in 1971. Especially cool to note: Dick mentions that this was taped the day before they played Carnegie Hall! A rave review of that show from the New York Times:

Fanny, a fairly new West Coast group immediately demonstrated the joyous vitality that still courses through what has been described lately as a moribund form…Barclay and Jean Millington in particular are exceptional singers, but the group performed with such solid togetherness that I hesitate to single out anyone for special praise.

Anyway, I can’t embed this video because it’s licensed exclusively to Fanny’s own terrific website, FannyRocks.com (run by Alice, with major contributions from Nickey). It’s a must-see because it’s NOT lip-synced, and “Charity Ball” rolls straight into “Cat Fever” (another Fanny original), which lights up after a deceptively mellow intro. (Think Three Dog Night shifting gears into Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fanny-style.)

Watch their hands, though, all of ‘em: Jean up and down the neck of that bass, Nickey roaring across the keys, Alice slamming the skins, and June shredding the frets – if you can see her hands through her hair! She’s all over this shit.

Look, I don’t want to overstate the case. There’s no need. Zeppelin was coming fully into their own in 1971, The Who destroyed the stage that year, Bowie was remaking the world in his own image(s), plus all the usual suspects who make 1971 the year that rock became classic (including women having landmark years like Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Carly Simon, Rita Coolidge, Fanny’s good friend Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin’s Pearl released in January 1971, and even Barbara Streisand, who had Fanny members play on both her 1971 albums) – 

– but seriously now, c’mon. Was there anybody else having as much fun in 1971 as these four women? 

You’re gonna have to show me some evidence if you got it, because I’ve got this. See for yourself!

After you’ve crawled all over FannyRocks.com to hear the story directly from the four women themselves, here’s some further reading:

(Do note that almost every one of those articles contains at least an error or two, all of which I’ve tried to correct here.)

I also have to thank Lily @takealittlepieceoftheirhearts​ for fanning the Fanny flame for years now, and inspiring me to finally get around to writing some of this down. (Here’s her Fanny tag.)

Don’t forget: David Bowie is counting on you to continue his life’s work by revivifying Fanny. I’ve done my part. Now you do yours.

“We always knew that we were supposed to do something. We didn’t know what it was, but there was something beckoning us. I really believe it was our destiny. We were meant to do it.” ~June Millington

mxjennylennon:

Fanny on the front of Disc Magazine; c. November 1971

     “…I mean, an all-girl rock group. Since rock-n-roll’s inception it’s been wet seats and screams for masculine idols, moving on to today’s “serious” musicians of rock who still provoke the same response. Girls, until now, have tottered around stage in tight sequined dresses waving their arms about and tinging to male back up musicians– plus a few forgettable female groups with guitars, and a couple of memorable girls with guts in their voices and delivery.
     "At London’s Speakeasy last Thursday the press, television, and radio people were invited to see the all-girl band, Fanny, play. I liked their album but somehow i didn’t believe that they did play on it, male chauvinist pig that I am. But they do and they did and they took three encores.“
     ”…Fanny may have to suffer the “freak show” attitude of audiences- but only once. After that once they could change the face of rock music- again, paving the way for the liberation of the female musician. –GAVIN PETRIE”

HELP COMPLETE DAVID BOWIE’S LIFE’S WORK: FALL IN LOVE WITH FANNY!

Play that thang up there while you read this. Turn it UP. 

The year is 1971. The band is Fanny.

That’s Nickey Barclay calling out the misogyny of the so-called progressive male leadership of the day (including the self-proclaimed moral superiority of the Jesus Freaks) taking women down a blind alley, pounding the keys as hard as anyone in 1971. Jean Millington’s voice right beside her, on a swooping bass rivaled only by John Entwistle and Chris Squire that year, June Millington crunching riffs and lead guitar alone with Pete Townshend at the top of that class, and Alice de Buhr bashing skins as hard as anyone this side of Bonzo.

Take care of yourself
This is your story
Your voice is shaking the walls
And they’re crumbling down

Fanny wasn’t just a pioneering all-women hard rock band: they were terrific, and you need to know about them. As David Bowie told Rolling Stone in 1999:

“They were one of the finest fucking rock bands of their time. They were extraordinary. They wrote everything, they played like motherfuckers, they were just colossal and wonderful. They’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever

“Revivify Fanny. And I will feel that my work is done.”

Let David tell you again: “They’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever.”

They weren’t even close to the first all-women rock group – after all, Fanny’s original trio of June and Jean Millington and Alice de Buhr had been in all-women groups as far back as 1963 – but they were the first to record a major-label album, 1970′s Fanny – and the first to achieve global acclaim.

1971 was the year it came together for Fanny, as the trio still known as Wild Honey added Nickey Barclay on keyboards (fresh from her stint touring as part of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen), all four of them singing and writing, and putting on a hell of a show – in 1971 in particular, starting January 1-4 at the Whisky on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. 

Those dates were supporting The Flying Burrito Brothers, but they were headlining by spring. They played so many shows there in the early part of the year that it became all-but-a residency.

image

The title track from their 1971 album Charity Ball hit the US top 40 (pic via), propelling them to appear on the premiere season of Sonny & Cher, Dick Cavett, The Old Grey Whistle Test in the UK, and Germany’s Beat Club, among many others. Opening for acts as varied as Van Morrison, Jethro Tull, Slade, Humble Pie, Lee Michaels, and so many others had Sounds Magazine observing in 1971 that it “seems that they are the support group to everyone these days.”

My guess is that a band of men with these chops would have been headlining more than just the Whisky long before this point. The reviewer of their 1971 Fillmore East show for the New York Times (”Fanny, a Four-Girl Rock Group, Poses a Challenge to Male Ego) observed that the merely polite applause they received would have been a standing ovation for similarly skilled men. 

He went on to note, “Fanny sounds more like The Rolling Stones than a pop choir. It plays basic rock’n’roll featuring a barrelhouse piano style and prominent bass. Where other bands (male in this case) might aim for some special jazz-classical-rock minutiae and miss embarrassingly, Fanny aims at basic gut rock’n’roll excitement and hits it solidly.”

While most of their songs were originals, they tended to have one cover per album. This cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “Special Care” from 1971′s Charity Ball (from Germany’s Beat Club) is one of my favorite performances of theirs at YouTube: Jean on lead vocals this time, with strong vocal support from all three bandmates.

Stick around for the last minute and a half, an instrumental breakaway: Nickey gives Elton John a run for his money, simultaneously whipped aloft on Jean’s soaring bassline and grounded by Alice’s syncopated beats,

with June single-handling the guitar parts of BOTH Neil Young and Stephen Stills just fine, thanks. TURN IT UP.

It’s unfortunate that their studio albums never quite captured that power. Their third album, Fanny Hill came closest, recorded in late 1971 at Apple Studios in London, engineered by Beatles board man Geoff Emerick. 

Their cover song this time around is, appropriately enough, a Beatles tune, the oft-overlooked “Hey Bulldog”. There’s no point starting a “did it better than The Beatles” argument, so I’ll just say I think they wore it out better and leave it at that. Feel free to disagree, but in any case, turn it up and enjoy.

Another reason to avoid any “better than The Beatles” bullshit: all four Beatles were fans and friends of Fanny’s. Other fan-friends included Little Feat, Joe Walsh, Gram Parsons, Rod Stewart, Deep Purple, Chicago, and the aforementioned David Bowie among many others. 

In fact, Jean Millington sings on “Fame”, and later married David’s longtime guitarist Earl Slick – but not before she’d had a fling with David herself, immortalized in Fanny’s 1975 hit “Butter Boy” (which reached #29). (When asked if any butter was in fact involved, Jean laughs. “Er no! It was au naturel, if you will.”)

That said, one of the things that remains most remarkable to me is that Fanny absolutely did NOT emphasize their sexuality. Some of that was defensive. June and Alice are gay, and Nickey is bi, and their record label was desperate to keep a lid on it. Nickey later acknowledged that the pressure to protect themselves prevented her from acknowledging to herself that she was in fact bi, and always had been, until years after she left the group.

Even the “cheeky” marketing slogans (”Get behind Fanny,” etc) came from Nickey – more as jokes than not, but still, these were playful puns, and not backed with the sexist imagery that was all too common in the day’s marketing. The rather more explicit meaning of the band’s name in England was unknown to them when June suggested it as a reference to the spirit of womanhood watching over them. 

They had to put up with incredible shit along the way, including promoters who assumed that they’d be performing topless, because hey, why else would anybody come see a band of women, right?

(In some fairness, Nickey herself thought an all-girl group sounded like a gimmick. She didn’t even return the band’s first phone call asking her to join. It was finally Joe Cocker who told her to forget all that nonsense and just go for it.)

Of course, Fanny certainly embraced the more explicit English heritage of the word a little more closely when titling their 1971-recorded album for the 18th century English erotic novel of the same name! When Fanny Hill finally hit the streets in early 1972, Rolling Stone raved about it:

“June Millington’s guitar work is superb, uniformly functional from both the standpoint of lead and rhythm–and as good as it is, it’s merely typical of Fanny’s ensemble playing throughout the album, which is full of melodic hooks exactly when they’re most needed…The number of groups that can inspire affection the way Fanny have with this album, simply from the pure exuberance of their music, are far and few between.”

There’s a bunch more to say about Fanny, and I definitely will, but mostly, I hope you take some time to just listen. I’ll end with a couple more clips from 1971.

This mid-tempo romp, “You’re The One” from The Old Grey Whistle Test in November offers great 4-part group harmonies, an especially tasty bass line from Jean, and a short but stinging lead from June at about the 2-minute mark.

I’ve got another that I’m not going to embed here because to be honest, it’s not that great, but their 1971 appearance on Sonny & Cher playing their hit single “Charity Ball” was historic: the first time an all-woman rock group had appeared on national TV – certainly in the US, but as far as I know, anywhere in the world. They lip-synced (as tended to be the rule in the US), and it’s kind of hilarious how delicately Alice had to play the drums so that the rest of the band could hear the music track playback in the studio…but seriously, THIS HAD NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE 1971. AN ALL-WOMEN BAND PLAYING ROCK AND ROLL ON TV. So check it out when you get a chance.

But before you watch that, watch THIS version of “Charity Ball” from Dick Cavett, also in 1971. I can’t embed it because it’s licensed exclusively to Fanny’s own terrific website, FannyRocks.com (run by Alice, with major contributions from Nickey). It’s NOT lip-synced, and it rolls straight into “Cat Fever”, which lights up after a deceptively mellow intro. 

Watch their hands, though, all of ‘em: June up and down the neck of that bass, Nickey roaring across the keys, Alice slamming the skins, and June shredding the frets – if you can see her hands through her hair! She’s all over this shit.

Look, I don’t want to overstate the case. There’s no need. Zeppelin was coming fully into their own, The Who destroyed the stage that year, Bowie was remaking the world in his own image(s), plus all the usual suspects who make 1971 the year that rock became classic (including women having landmark years like Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Carly Simon, Rita Coolidge, Fanny’s good friend Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin’s Pearl released in January 1971, and even Barbara Streisand, who Fanny played for on both her 1971 albums)– but seriously now, c’mon. Was there anybody else having as much fun in 1971 as these four women? 

You’re gonna have to show me some evidence if you got it, because I’ve got this. See for yourself!

image

After you’ve crawled all over FannyRocks.com to hear the story directly from the four women themselves, here’s some further reading:

(Do note that almost every one of those articles contains at least an error or two, all of which I’ve tried to correct here.)

I also have to thank Lilly @takealittlepieceoftheirhearts​ for fanning the Fanny flame for years now, and inspiring me to finally get around to writing some of this down. (Here’s her Fanny tag.)

Don’t forget: David Bowie is counting on you to continue his life’s work by revivifying Fanny. I’ve done my part. Now you do yours.

“We always knew that we were supposed to do something. We didn’t know what it was, but there was something beckoning us. I really believe it was our destiny. We were meant to do it.” ~June Millington

mxjennylennon:

Fanny on the front of Disc Magazine; c. November 1971

     “…I mean, an all-girl rock group. Since rock-n-roll’s inception it’s been wet seats and screams for masculine idols, moving on to today’s “serious” musicians of rock who still provoke the same response. Girls, until now, have tottered around stage in tight sequined dresses waving their arms about and tinging to male back up musicians– plus a few forgettable female groups with guitars, and a couple of memorable girls with guts in their voices and delivery.
     “At London’s Speakeasy last Thursday the press, television, and radio people were invited to see the all-girl band, Fanny, play. I liked their album but somehow i didn’t believe that they did play on it, male chauvinist pig that I am. But they do and they did and they took three encores.“
     ”…Fanny may have to suffer the “freak show” attitude of audiences- but only once. After that once they could change the face of rock music- again, paving the way for the liberation of the female musician. –GAVIN PETRIE”