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Holly Golightly; Ludella Black 

Holly Golightly: God Don't Like It (Damaged Goods); Ludella Black: She's Out There (Damaged Goods)

Wednesday, Jan 10 2001
Since its debut in the early 1990s, British garage rock goddess Holly Golightly's grrl group, Thee Headcoatees, has carried the banner of stylish, finely crafted electric blues as ably as any band imaginable. Still, many people have justifiably seen Thee Headcoatees as yet another front for the madly prolific songwriter Billy Childish, impresario of England's so-called "Medway scene," a group of musicians clustered around his retro-garage stable. The enigmatic poet/songwriter pens most of Thee Headcoatees' original material, and he helped shape their frenzied, joyous sound. Only recently have thee gals -- Golightly, Ludella Black, Kyra LaRubia, and Bongo Debbie -- begun to assert themselves as solo musicians.

Golightly is in the middle of a sizzling hot streak, with another first-rate record drenched in the luxuriantly wicked R&B guitar style that bands like the Rolling Stones and the Standells thought they had perfected decades ago. Medway guitarist Bruce Brand does the old masters one better by adding a crackling, sinfully modern mastery to the style originally pioneered by bluesmen such as Ike Turner and Jimmy Reed. While Golightly's lyrics retain the sometimes tiresome soft-core S/M overtones of her work with Thee Headcoatees, her approach is much subtler and more effective. Several tracks on God Don't Like It, including the catchy "Second Chance" and an intriguingly aggressive cover of Bill Withers' "Use Me," rank among the best work she's ever done.

Ludella Black's She's Out There has a lot in common with Golightly's albums, although her style is a little less slinky and come-hither and a bit more girl-groupishly femme. Unlike her bandmate, Black hasn't picked up the knack of writing her own material, although her longtime collaborator, guitarist Mickey Hampshire, wrote half of these songs, and his ear for garage blues is suitably on target. Black shines brightly on several well-selected cover tunes -- her version of Brenda Lee's "Is It True?" and an obscure yet addictive Troggs song ("Last Summer") are outstanding. Admittedly, Black doesn't have the greatest voice, but true to the DIY ethos, she doesn't let that prevent her -- or us -- from cutting loose and having fun.

About The Author

Lawrence Kay


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