Live at the Rathskeller
This particular band of Girls - there having been others over the moons - got together as part of the late-'70s Boston scene. Their only recorded work was a single on Pere Ubu's Hearthan label and a couple of compilation tracks later, so Live at the Rathskeller: 05/17/79 serves as the best document of this often grand group. There's a giddy good humor about this recording that's well-worth the appreciating, all while not sacrificing what sounds like a loud-as-hell aesthetic that wasn't quite punk or heavy metal or whatever, just it's own good place. If anything, like Pere Ubu, the group was dedicated to modern garage rock that took the past as a starting point and then went forward (as opposed to simply re-creating it). Probably the band's best posthumous claim to fame was Robin Amos' eventual work in Cul de Sac, and here he certainly does show his love for both herky-jerky art rock grooves and more new wavish mania, offering up sometimes-twisted solos. It's not quite Brian Eno in Roxy Music, say, but it's close enough to claim clear inspiration, as 'Okey Dokey,' 'Jeffrey I Hear You' (with two completely frenetic breakdowns), and 'These Things' demonstrate. Guitarist/singer Mark Dagley and singer/drummer Daved Hild lead the group through some straight-ahead chargers like 'Just Got Back' (at all of 50 seconds) and 'I Heard Joe Talking.' Yet, even the seemingly 'normal' tracks usually have something happen to them along the way, whether due to Amos or the overall performance. Thus the stop/start 'Stiff Bird,' with it's sheets of keyboard noise in between the staccato verses. The fidelity of the performance is mid-fi at the least, but the energy comes through strong, while Byron Coley's appreciative liner notes and a radio interview with the band help flesh out an enjoyable release. - Ned Raggett.