Friday, February 19, 2016

Fanny - 1973 - Mother's Pride

Mother's Pride

01. Last Night I Had A Dream   
02. Long Road Home   
03. Old Hat   
04. Solid Gold   
05. Is It Really You?   
06. All Mine   
07. Summer Song   
08. Polecat Blues   
09. Beside Myself   
10. Regular Guy   
11. I Need You Need Me   
12. Feelings   
13. I'm Satisfied

Bass, Vocals – Jean Millington
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Alice de Buhr
Guitar, Vocals – June Millington
Piano, Organ, Vocals – Nickey Barclay

y now FANNY was a name to conjure with. They were no longer a laughing stock but were acknowledged and admired as a serious rock band. They even passed the rock-cred “test of fire” by having one of their singles, Young and Dumb, banned by BBC Radio 1 (and by being banned from playing live at the Albert Hall – for being “too provocative”!). They continued to tour almost constantly throughout North America and Europe, stopping only to record yet another album, their second release in ten months. Todd Rundgren replaced Richard Perry as producer on FANNY’s fourth album, 1973’s MOTHER’S PRIDE, which is probably the band’s “hardest” rock LP and was also the only one of their five albums not to feature a band photo on the cover. “Working with Todd was far more soul-satisfying than working with Richard [Perry] ever was,” Nickey said. “He treated us with much more respect and gave us our heads more when it came to creative input and production.”

The women of FANNY were coming to terms with, and learning to balance, their roles as both women and rock musicians, but the strain was beginning to take its toll within the band. Shortly after the release of their fourth album, FANNY collapsed temporarily as a result of what writer Barbara O’Dair** called “internal tensions, accumulated strains, and the ordinary occupational hazards of making it in a man’s world predicated on sex, drugs and rock and roll.” In the wake of increasing discord, Alice and June left the group one by one. June was replaced on lead guitar and vocals by Patti Quatro, big sister of pop sensation Suzi; Alice was replaced on drums by former Svelte Brie Brandt. Nickey and Jean elected to stay on, and it was this line-up which recorded the final FANNY album, ROCK AND ROLL SURVIVORS. Having completed their deal with Reprise Records, ROCK AND ROLL SURVIVORS saw the band move to Casablanca Records – home of several huge ’70s acts including Donna Summer, KISS, Parliament and the Village People – and take on a new producer, Vini Poncia.

ROCK AND ROLL SURVIVORS would turn out to be the band’s final effort. It included the single Butter Boy, which peaked at number 29 on the Billboard singles charts in February, 1975, but by the time the single became a hit there was no band left to promote it.

With 1973’s release of “Mothers Pride,” Fanny opted to have Todd Rundgren helm the production of the album. The album’s title is a nod to a brand of bread in the UK. Mr. Rundgren’s condition on producing the album was that he alone could mix the album with no input from Fanny.

This album solidified Fanny’s presence as a major UK act as many of Fanny’s final single releases failed to chart in the USA but did well in the UK markets. Trivia: Alice was drunk while recording the vocals for “Solid Gold.”  “Solid Gold” would be recorded by another drunken drummer: The Who’s Keith Moon.

Reprise MS2137, February 1973

Last Night I had a Dream (Randy Newman)
Randy Newman’s nightmare lyric is a good choice of cover to start their fourth album. Todd Rundgren’s individual production immediately makes its presence felt and Nickey’s vocal is suitably fearful. June’s ghostly guitar adds tension and Jean’s deep bass line mimics your beating heart.

Long Road Home (June Millington)
June’s folk roots resurface on this acoustic lament of longing and disillusionment. It also seems to sum up her state of mind during her final days with Fanny and her vocal sounds heartfelt and poignant.

Old Hat (David Skinner)
The album’s second cover is Uncle Dog’s laid back ballad, Old Hat, led by Nickey’s somewhat muted piano. The chorus is buoyed by some close harmony vocals and Alice’s huge drum sound.

Solid Gold (Nickey Barclay)
It’s that girl again! Alice’s vocal weaves its way around Nickey’s paean to fame and fortune in its own inimitable style, complete with off mic chuckle.

Is it Really You? (Nickey Barclay)
The first half of this album has a world-weary ambience and this song typifies the mood. An expression of regret to a lost life, it starts with a simple piano accompaniment and builds to a staccato chorus built around June’s intricate rhythm guitar and Jean’s intertwining bass.

All Mine (June Millington, Jean Millington)
A nod towards the disco style that the Millingtons would follow in the late 1970s, this swaying rocker features two innovations not seen elsewhere in the Fanny catalogue. Firstly a male backing vocal courtesy of the ‘Fannets’ and secondly a saxophone solo.

Summer Song (June Millington)
The second half of the album is more upbeat and this song starts the ball rolling with Jean’s booming bass line pushing this amiable shuffle along in typical Millington bright and breezy style.

Polecat Blues (June Millington)
June’s wry lyric and laconic vocal delivery drives this country blues, which is augmented by a traditional jazz band and Nickey’s bar room piano giving a vaudeville feeling to the song.

Beside Myself (Nickey Barclay, Jean Millington)
The one-off writing partnership of Jean and Nickey produces one of Fanny’s finest moments – a complex ballad showcasing Jean’s emotive vocal and Alice’s mega-drum fills. June’s solo builds the drama in the mid section and Nickey’s simple piano coda brings us back to earth. Stunning.

Regular Guy (Nickey Barclay)
A happy, upbeat song from Nickey underpinned by some neat acoustic guitar and slide solo from June.

I Need You Need Me (Nickey Barclay)
Nickey’s study in paranoia is a riff driven rocker comprised of several sections, some manic, others reflective. In the former June’s guitar and Alice’s crashing drums provide the madness and in the latter Nickey’s brooding keyboards add a degree of quiet in the storm.

Feelings (Nickey Barclay, June Millington)
The final June and Nickey collaboration results in one of Fanny’s most gorgeous songs. A haunting, folksy melody is beautifully arranged for piano and flute producing a light airy ambience.

I’m Satisfied (Nickey Barclay)
The album closes with a trademark relentless rocker from Nickey. Prefaced by an a cappella chorus it features some of her best organ work and a weirdly processed solo from June. Despite its overt sexual references, this song was used to advertise the National Tea Council in the UK!

Produced by T. Rundgren, their fourth release is probably their most consistent, and certainly reasonable by most people's standards. Recorded in January of '73, it's also considerably more commercially viable than previous outings, and on the weaker cuts, tends to sound a bit sappier too. But, as usual, the good is good enough to make it worthwhile.

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