June & Jean Millington – Play Like a Girl

January 01, 1970

(Fabulous)

 

www.junemillington.com

 

The late-1960s all-female rock
band that the Millington
sisters formed, Fanny, looms ever larger in rock history as a role model. It
was also a very good band – June Millington was an excellent player, as the
slide and lead work on “Ain’t It Peculiar” showed, and the energetic
chant-singing seems a precursor to punk. Also, the (mildly) anatomical
overtones of the band name seemed to predict future acts like the Breeders and
Hole. The group only had middling success – it’s biggest hit, 1974’s
“Butterboy,” came after June left and was more or less Fanny’s swan song. She
went on to make “women’s music” and create the Institute for Musical Arts,
dedicated to teaching female musicians. Meanwhile, Jean married Earl Slick,
David Bowie’s guitarist, and raised two children.

 

The sisters have made music
together off-and-on, but Play Like a Girl seems their highest-profile effort in a long time. It has its pluses and
minuses.  The chief plus is its nice DIY
feel; chief minus, the datedness of some selections. June’s guitar playing is
still very spirited, as her lead work on “Let Love Linger” and the happily
energetic title song show. And her songwriting sometimes is quite personal and
original – “I Love Your Hair!,” about the blindingly beautiful whiteness of her
hair, is a celebratory shout-out to her self-image. But that song also shows
this album’s weakness. It, like several others, has a default-position funk,
blues-rock or rawk-rock arrangement
that feels stale, and June’s voice keeps slipping into an overly emphasized
growl.

 

Better are the songs that relax
into stronger melodies and subtler back-up singing, with choruses that ring out
with a pop or folk-rock flair, like “When You Bottom,” “Calling Your Name (To
the Stars),” and “Opportunity Knocks.” (“All the Children,” alas, is just too
ephemeral to have much weight.) The chief players, besides June, are Jean on
bass and her son Lee Madeloni on drums and, on one song, piano. Girls from
IMA’s camp provide occasional back-up vocals.

 

DOWNLOAD: “I Love Your Hair!,” “Opportunity
Knocks” STEVEN ROSEN

 

 

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