Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fanny: “Fanny” (1970/2013) CD Review

Fanny is a band I had not heard of, and I have to admit that it was the band’s name that got me curious - that coupled with the fact that they’re an all-girl band from the late 1960s, early 1970s, a period that greatly interests me. Their first album, self-titled, was originally released in 1970 on Reprise, and includes mostly original tunes. The Cream cover comes as an odd surprise.

It’s interesting, because at first they come off as kind of harmless fluff, but as you get deeper into the album, and as you listen more, you can really hear the true raw souls of rock in their voices and playing.

Take a song like “Conversation With A Cop” for example. On the one hand, yes, it’s a bit on the cheesy side. It begins, “Good morning/I suppose you’re here to issue me a warning/And to ask me what I’m doing out alone/You’re suspicious that I’m not asleep at home.” And then she sings, “I’m just looking for some place to walk my dog.” A bit silly, right? But when you think about it, the song is really about the suspicious, distrusting attitude of the authorities when someone is doing anything different, anything unexpected, and of course it also has a bit of a feminist bent, which is totally effective.

There is something about this band that could be seen as a pre-punk brashness. Plus, these girls can really play (check out the nice work on keys on “Candlelighter Man”). And they really rock on a track like “Changing Horses.” Check out the funky bass line to kick off “Shade Me,” a pretty cool tune. Also, they’ve got the vocal chops for a variety of material. This is an album I’ve enjoyed more each time I’ve listened to it.

By the way, the liner notes for the CD are by three of the band’s members.

The album opens with “Come And Hold Me,” which is somewhat fun, harmless, catchy pop. It has a good groove, particularly in the instrumental section. The lyrics start, “Come on and see me, baby/Sleepy time in the wintertime/Sleepy time in the wintertime/Come and hold me.” This track was written by guitarist June Millington and bass-player Jean Millington.

“I Just Realized” is a rock tune with a kind of good slow groove. This one features some nice touches on keys, as well as some cool stuff on guitar. The girls are not trying to be sweet here, as on the first track, but letting it rip vocally at moments, like on the lines, “You’re making it hard, you’re making it hard for me/And now you say that you won’t tell me where or when/I just realized I’ve been had again.”

As I mentioned, Fanny covers “Badge” on this album. I’ve always been a big Cream fan. I got to see Jack Bruce perform once, and he was fantastic. As the story goes, the song’s title comes from Eric Clapton misreading the word “Bridge” on George Harrison's notes for the song. These girls do a good job with the song, and are fairly faithful to the original. Their version is a little more fun, a little lighter than the original. I dig it.

“Changing Horses” oddly starts as a bit of fooling around in the studio, with some loose playing on keyboard, and some banter. That lasts for the first minute or so. Then the song kicks in as a full-fledged, straight-ahead rock number. They really belt it out, giving an impressive vocal performance. This is an earnest rock song, nothing half-assed here, and it’s one I enjoy more and more with each spin.

My favorite track on this album, however, is “Take A Message To The Captain.”  I love the feel of this one, in large part due to the catchy work on keys. This song also features good vocal performances, their voices working well together. It opens with these lines, “There’s a ship that sails tomorrow/I was due to be on board/There’s a life to be discovered/And a world to be explored/I had decided not to join them/Thought I’d stay at home with you/But I’ve gone and thought it over/And there’s something I must do.”  Certain moments in the lead guitar part seem influenced by George Harrison. This song is really a little gem, and it works to raise your spirits. “Take A Message To The Captain” was written by pianist/organist Nickey Barclay.

CD Track List

  1. Come And Hold Me
  2. I Just Realized
  3. Candlelighter Man
  4. Conversation with A Cop
  5. Badge
  6. Changing Horses
  7. Bitter Wine
  8. Take A Message To The Captain
  9. It Takes A Lot Of Good Lovin’
  10. Shade Me
  11. Seven Roads

Fanny was released on February 26, 2013 through Real Gone Music.

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