Friday, February 23, 2018

The Pleasure Seekers - What A Way To Die (1964-1968)

The Detroit garage band the Pleasure Seekers originally comprised sisters Suzi, Patti, and Arlene Quatro, the daughters of jazz musician Art Quatro. The group started while the siblings were all still in their teens. They quickly transcended novelty status by writing their own material and playing their own instruments, and made their debut in 1966 with the local hit "Never Thought You'd Leave Me," released on the Hideout label (the recording arm of the local teen club where Suzi reportedly worked as a counter clerk). A year later they jumped to Mercury for "Light of Love." Eldest sister Arlene soon exited the Pleasure Seekers to begin a family -- among her children was actress Sherilyn Fenn, best known for her work in the TV cult series Twin Peaks -- and was replaced by another Quatro sister, Nancy. Throughout the remainder of the decade the band toured relentlessly, even appearing at a USO showcase at the peak of the Vietnam War, but mainstream success continued to elude them. Around 1969, the Pleasure Seekers rechristened themselves Cradle, a move which also heralded a harder-edged sound; by the early '70s, however, the trio disbanded, with Suzi going on to fame as a solo performer (as well as co-starring on the hit sitcom Happy Days as the legendary Leather Tuscadero) while Patti joined the California band Fanny. In 2016, Sundazed released a collection of their classic recordings, What a Way to Die.

Label:Sundazed Music
Released: 2016
What A Way To Die (1964-1968):
Bass Vocals – Suzi Quatro (tracks: 2,7,9,10,11,12)
Drums – Darline Arnone, Nan Ball (tracks: 3,6), Nancy Rogers
Guitar – Pami Benford
Guitar, Vocals – Patti Quatro (tracks: 2,7,9,11,12)
Keyboards – Diane Baker (tracks: 3,6)
Keyboards, Vocals – Arlene Quatro (tracks: 2,11,12)
Percussion – Nancy Quatro (tracks: 11)
Vocals – Marylou Ball (tracks: 3,6)

Years before Rolling Stone ran their first think piece about "Women in Rock," the Go-Go's had their first practice, or Fanny had to explain for the first time that they really played their own instruments, the Pleasure Seekers were a combo out of Detroit who proved the gals could rock just as hard as the guys. Led by future glam rock icon Suzi Quatro on bass and her sister Patti Quatro on lead guitar (with fellow siblings Arlene Quatro and Nancy Quatro joining the lineup at different times), the Pleasure Seekers were a tough, versatile band with chops, personality, and attitude to spare. The Pleasure Seekers never scored a hit record, and while they toured relentlessly, their novelty as an all-female rock band was a blessing and a curse, attracting an audience that often didn't take them seriously. But the sides they left behind leave no question that they had the goods, and What a Way to Die is a thoroughly enjoyable 11-song collection that preserves the Pleasure Seekers' finest moments. The title track has long been a favorite among garage rock collectors, and it's one of the wildest and funniest sides of the era, in which a young woman compares her boyfriend to a bottle of beer -- and finds the boyfriend a lot less satisfying. While there are other garage-centric tracks like "Never Thought You'd Leave Me" and "Gotta Get Away," the Pleasure Seekers also cut some potent blue-eyed soul, especially "Good Kind of Hurt" and "Locked in Your Love." And the latter-day live recordings on side two saw they were evolving into a smart, heavier outfit that fit right in at the Grande Ballroom, Detroit's home venue for the MC5, SRC, and the Stooges. While What a Way to Die only runs 38 minutes, it does include all the material the band released in its lifetime, along with some potent outtakes and live material, and the liner notes from Mike and Anja Stax tell the band's story in concise but well-detailed fashion. You don't have to be a garage rock junkie or obsessed with female-fronted bands to dig this collection -- just about anyone who goes for '60s-era rock & roll should find something here to like.

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