Fanny – Fanny (review)

Fanny – Fanny (Real Gone Music) review

Back when the Go Go’s and Bangles were both still in grade school, this California quartet blazed a trail for all female rockers to come.

The first all-girl band to be signed to a major label, Fanny released this debut album back in 1971 (now remastered by the folks at Real Gone Music).  It seems completely ridiculous now – especially with so many talented women ruling the charts – but these girls had a lot of trouble being taken seriously.  Girls were supposed to stand there and look pretty – not rock, especially as hard as these girls did.

Producer Richard Perry, who had hit albums with Carly Simon & Barbara Streisand, definitely smoothes out some of the girls rougher edges  (for proof that they were a HARD rock band, check out this youtube video).

The album opens with the breezy “Come and Hold Me” – it’s buoyant acoustic guitar and harmonies are very typical of time period.  But, they show off more of their true colors on the very next track –  “I Just Realized” begins with a banshee-like wail from keyboardist Nickey Barclay and chugging beat.  It also features some eyebrow-raising slide guitar work from June Millington.  “Candlelighter Man” has a great melody and vocals from bassist Jean Millington.

The standout of the entire record though is their cover of Cream’s “Badge.”  Led by Barclay’s pounding piano, it adds a different element to the song – especially when sister June comes in with the searing guitar solo.  Also really good is the blistering rocker “Changing Horses,” which shows more of what the girls were like on stage.

Not everything works – “Conversation with a Cop” is a little dated in its ballad style, “Take a Message to the Captain” smacks too close to the cheesy “Put Your Hand in the Hand” from Ocean, and the backup vocals on “Bitter Wine” are kinda goofy.

But, when the girls are left to do what they do best, gritty rock n’ roll, it works every time – like the funky “It Takes a Lot of Good Lovin,’” which has a great breakdown in the middle, or the bluesy “Shade Me,” which features some really impressive bass work from sister Jean.  The album closes with the hard rocker, “Seven Roads,” which sounds pretty close to what the Runaways would attempt a few years later.

When this album came out, the world was embracing the softer side of rock with artists like Carole King and James Taylor – it’s no wonder that Fanny was largely ignored.  But, their debut still sounds amazingly fresh.   Somebody had to blaze the trail, and these girls sure did just that.  –Tony Peters