Friday, 1 August 2008


Time to roll out some of the booty, that I accumulated from Cornwall, the land of the ship wreckers. The album in question was actually bought from a car boot sale, but I prefer to think of it scavenging for flotsam and jetsam, which sounds more exciting. The 'booties' in this part of the country seem to take place at a much more reasonable time of day, compared to your usual, up at the crack of dawn affair, your average Kernow collector obviously appreciates their sleep, they're not daft are dem folks down that way. This one started at Midday and my chauffeur ;-) suggested this was designed to lure in the 'emmets' market (holiday maker, i.e me) well it worked, because it was heaving with booty hunters.

Back in the Sixties, the attitude of the music biz was somewhat 'dinosaur-like' when it came to girls with guitars, they weren't taken seriously and the presumption was, that the pop paying public wouldn't take to an all female rock band. However, there were pioneers of 'Wimmin's Rock' who were determined to smash down this prejudice and show the world that they could belt out the rawk, just like the boys. Goldie and The Gingerbreads, Fanny, The Deadly Nightshade and Isis all broke down barriers and paved the way for a new generation of girls to boogie in the Seventies, helping the likes of Ann and Nancy Wilson, from Heart (my favourite hard rocking and singing sisters) to become international stars.

The front cover of Birtha's Can't Stop the Madness album had Rosemary Butler (bass, vocals), Sherry Hagler (keyboards), Olivia (Liver) Favela (drums), and Shele Pinizzotto (guitar, vocals) decked out in rawk denim, raawk haircuts and most revealing of all; raaawwk dungarees! I knew then, that I had unearthed some vinyl with some seriously sweet lady rock action on it.

School friends, Rosemary and Shele, formed their first band called The Rapunzels. Rosemary then played in The Ladybirds, who supported The Rolling Stones, in 1965 and Shele worked in a recording studio during this time. They were also in The Daisy Chain, who recorded a sole, very hard to find hippie influenced pop album, Straight Or Lame, in 1967. During this time they were known to turn up at gigs on Sunset Boulevard in a daisy painted car. Later that year, the duo reunited for a new project, they recruited Sherry and soon after Liver joined, to complete the classic Birtha line up. They gigged around the West Coast for four years, before cutting their eponymous debut album, from it came the Free Spirit single. This was promoted, by their enterprising label, with t-shirts and badges declaring the now legendary slogan 'Birtha Has Balls'

A year later, a follow up gatefold album was released called 'Can't Stop The Madness' with all bar one track being original tunes. Curiously, the track listing on the sleeve bears no resemblance to the actual order on the record. On my copy, the previous owner had helpfully identified, matched and numbered the correct order, possibly the only reason I can think of, that it's forgivable to write on an album sleeve.

They toured with such legends as BB King, Three Dog Night, The Who and with The Kinks in England, becoming a firm favourite with the rock crowds at festivals. Despite having a wealth of musical talent and three members capable of holding a tune, Liver's Joplinesque rasp is my favourite, sadly they failed to make enough of a commercial impact and decided to call it a day soon after being dropped by their label.

Both albums were reissued as a twoforone CD on the See For Miles label in the UK in 1997 and are throughly recommended for connoiseurs of classic rock with a feminine touch.

Birtha (1972) released on Dunhill Records (Probe)
A1 Free Spirit
A2 Fine Talking Man
A3 Tuesday
A4 Feeling Lonely
A5 She Was Good To Me

B1 Work On A Dream
B2 Too Much Woman (For A Hen Pecked Man)
B3 Judgement Day
B4 Forgotten Soul

Can't Stop The Madness
(1973) released on Dunhill Records (Probe)

Side 1

It's a tambourine slapping upbeat opener that reminds me of The Monkees at their most effervescent.

Ma Man Told Me
Southern Rawk at it's finest..

Don't Let It Get You Down
A soulful number that really displays the influence of Steppenwolf (of whom, producer Gabriel Mekler also worked with) The strongest song of this side.

It's chant, it's funky it's hot!

Let Us Sing
A soulful gentle ballad with top harmonies showing off the girls' voices to the max, with a nice acoustic accompaniment.

Side 2
Rock Me
A fairly standard rock romp opens this side, probably the weakest song on this side.

All This Love
It's the stand out track on the album with a classic rock mood and a catchy chorus, it should have been a hit!

(When Will Ya) Understand
This was the epic track with a touch of the Deep Purple keyboards accompanying the wailing vocals.

My Pants Are Too Short
They can never be too short laaaadies! giggity giggity goo Oops! I've slipped into Seventies Music Biz Exec mode. A chunky bluesy beat makes this a real bump'n'grinder like Free in their heyday.

Can't Stop The Madness
Some hot guitar picking and fine singing make for a corking finale.

1 comment:

Lani said...

I wished would sell their double-album CD again.

Also, I know Rosemary Butler has a website, but I would be curious to know what became of the others