Photo: Birtha, armed to the teeth with proto-metal chops.
To combat the impeding death of print journalism, I still subscribe to plenty of magazines. SPIN happens to be one of them. In between articles about bands that I can stomach as easily as putrid flesh, there are bits I enjoy, one of which is the Essentials column by my friend and former editor Chuck Eddy (he of the irreverent metal tome Stairway to Hell). This month’s installment is “The Women of Metal.” Eddy lists eight bands, but the following are my favorites. They range from the very famous to the the “I forgot about those chicks” bands to the “Wait, those were all women?” bands. It’s an excuse to post some bad-asses on the Deciblog.
Eddy lists Birtha, “the first all-woman metal act to reach the big leagues” as first on his list. This delighted me to no end. Birtha had ripping riffs, rawk n soul vocals, and a screaming organ (save the euphemisms). Listen to “Free Spirit,” and tell me you wouldn’t tear off your bra and stomp the motherfuggin’ yard to this tune.
Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson were straight-up lady gangsters. “Metal’s first lady superstars” could make men cry and women think they could fly. Do not mess with the Wilsons.
Ah, Girlschool. “Think of Motorhead’s sister band as the missing link between the Runaways and the Donnas.” YES. So bad-ass and groovy, with a great sense of humor to put them over the top.
Bottom was one of those bands I saw at least a dozen times in the mid to late 90s in shit-hole NYC clubs. It would take someone like Chuck to remember they existed. Here’s an MP3 of “Whipping Child.” “Whipping Child” It’s the sound of 1 a.m. on the Bowery before anyone owned a cell phone and nobody in the club looked remotely familiar (thank you, Budweiser).
Decibel-approved heshers Christian Mistress have a powerhouse sound that anybody with half a ear can trace back to Birtha. They even look related.