The end of the line for Fanny still managed a top 40 hit, ni
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 08/14/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's unfair that Fanny's albums are out of print. A terrific rock 'n' roll band from the 70's the original line up made four strong albums. This the band's fifth and last saw a shift in the personnel; guitarist/vocalist June Millington and drummer Alice de Buhr left the band. Keyboardist/vocalist Nickey Barclay and bassist/vocalist Jean Millington were joined by Patti Quatro on vocals/guitar(The Pleasure Seekers)and Brie Howard on drums(who would leave after the completion of the album).
Bolstered by a top 40 hit "Butter Boy" (written about David Bowie by Jean), "Rock 'n' Roll Survivors" is a good album that sounds extremely good in its CD debut. This isn't the band's best album but it's a very good grand finale for Fanny. Cherry Red has done a nice job of remastering this from the original master tape and includes an informative booklet covering the band's history. Among the other highlights are a dramatically rearranged version of the Stones "Let's Spend the Night Together" which alters the meaning of the song.
It's a pity that there are no new interviews or info about the making of the album. Nevertheless, Cherry Red has done a terrific job of making sure albums that were MIA finally make the transition to CD. I'm happy to finally have this on CD."
These SURVIVORS Deserve To Be Recognized
Jef Fazekas | Newport Beach, California United States | 09/16/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Firstly, I have to start off by saying that I'm not a Fanny snob; I consider ROCK 'N' ROLL SURVIVORS as much a part of the band's history as their four previous albums. The fact that it's the only album without core members June Millington and Alice de Buhr is just that....a fact.
That said, it's also a fact that SURVIVORS is the group's weakest album...there are some huge holes in the production (Vini Poncia just was not a strong enough choice to helm the production chores), some spotty lead vocals and some sub-par material. On the flip side of the coin, there are a number of tight, together songs that have really stood the test of time.
The disc opens with the album's propulsive title track. It's synth/percussion/vocals opening is still breath-taking, while Jean Millington's bass lines brilliantly anchor the song. However. the cut's true star is new drummer Brie Howard. While not as strong a drummer (at this point) as de Buhr, Howard was a much better all-around percussionist. Along with solid drumming, congas, timbales and other percussive toys are vividly used throughout the track, culminating in an explosive little solo. Not so great? Keyboard player Nicole Barclay's lead vocal. Most of it is slurred, with roughly 75% of the lyrics being undecipherable (That said, it's VERY easy to make out "They're the only ones who made it/Others couldn't take it/Oh, had to go, had to go", a lyric that, 35 years later, I'm more positive than ever was directed at de Buhr and June Millington). All in all, a good way to kick things off.
In retrospect, it's easy to see why "Butter Boy" was Fanny's biggest hit...the song's absolutely infectious! From the toy piano and finger-snapping opening to the suggestive, thinly veiled lyrics, this is a pop masterpiece. Add a killer lead vocal and powerhouse bass chords from Millington, amazing harmony vocals and a killer sax solo that seems totally organic....well, all I can say is, I'm shocked this little gem hasn't been covered in the past 30+ years ~ there's a dance hit here, just waiting to happen! Mark my word....if the band hadn't broken up and Casablanca hadn't pulled the plug on their efforts to work the single, this baby would have soared into the Top 10!
Not nearly as strong is "Long Distance Lover." I didn't like this song 35 years ago, and I don't like it now...guitarist Patti Quatro's vocal is weak at best, the la-la chorus is horrible and the arrangement is flat. RnRS's low point.
Almost as bad is the band's take on the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend The Night Together." Sporting Jean Millington's only questionable lead vocal to date, the arrangement is timid and uninspired, with the instrumentation ordinary and safe. Simply put, Fanny's only misstep when it came to covering a song.
"Rockin'(All Nite Long)" is a nice little jam, but you can't help but feel that Poncia's light touch is holding the band bank...while things burst here, they should have exploded. Quatro's lead vocal is spirited and edgy, with a decent amount of grit, and Howard, Millington and Quatro all have nice, albeit short, solos (where's Barclay's?), but this track should have been a centerpiece instead of just the closer for side one.
"Get Out Of The Jungle" is one of the album's top tracks, with all four musicians in fine form. Everything just comes together...Quatro's lead vocal is earthy and raw, while the arrangement is crisp, the instrumentaion smart and inventive (Barclay's keyboards just sparkle, while the Millington/Howard rhythm section is at it's absolute best). In a just world, this would have been the follow-up hit to "Butter Boy!"
And then there's the smooth, sultry funk of "Beggar Man." The song is still totally hypnotic, but I now wish they had gone a little lighter on the synths here... a little more percussion, a stronger bass presence from Millington, some dirty horns....all of this would have given the track a little more of a "street" vibe. Still, it's a strong cut that hints at what could have been if the band hadn't broken up a little more than a year later.
While "Sally Go Round The Roses" is one of SURVIVORS best tracks, and certainly it's best cover song, there's just something missing. Anyone who continued to follow Brie Howard's career as a drummer/percussionist/vocalist with such bands as American Girls and Boxing Gandhis, or as a much-in-demand session and touring musician, knows that. Even Jean Millington recently stated that she can't get over how reined in Howard sounds here on her sole lead vocal. Nice enough, but barely a hint of the great things yet to come!
The band caught a lot of heat over their take of "I've Had It", with even Nickey Barclay eventually dissing the track. The fact of the matter, though, is that it's one of the album's best cuts. Barclay's lead vocal is one of her best ever, while the band is a BAND, blending together beautifully vs. battling each other. The rhythm section is brilliantly bouyant, Quatro's guitar is tight and taut and the backing vocals are harmonic heaven. Another "Shoulda-been-a-hit!"
Closing things out is "From Where I Stand", a nice enough duet from Barclay and Howard. Once again, I wish things had been punched up a bit....this cut could've REALLY rocked if it had been given the chance. Still, the vocals are good (particularly Howard's), the arrangement is smart and the lyrics are thoughtful ("My friends are closing in on my world/They want to tell me how to live").
So where does ROCK 'N' ROLL SURVIVORS stand....REALLY stand!...35 years down the line? With some definite hits ~ and some major misses! ~ it is clear that this is indeed Fanny's spottiest album. But it also proves that the group was, and still is, the premiere all-female rock band, in EVERY incarnation. We can only guess what this line-up could have accomplished if they had stuck around a little bit longer (As with all my reviews, I'm docking the disc half a star for not including the lyrics, an oversight 35 years ago that should have been corrected with this reissue).