· culture ·

A few weeks ago, I caught the very end of a re-run of The Old Grey Whistle Test, and a brilliant band from the 1970s. They were an all-female band and had a terrific style, with vocals slightly reminiscent of Janis Joplin. I couldn't believe that I'd never heard of them before because they were so good. I waited for the credits at the end of the programme and found out that the band was called Fanny. I know — it's an unfortunate name, but don't let that put you off. I've done a bit more research on them and — to my delight — found that a retrospective collection of four of their albums (with lots of extra material) is available on Spotify in the form of First Time in a Long Time: The Reprise Recordings.

If you like rock bands, you should definitely go and listen, but here's what I like about them. First (and most importantly), they are great musicians. There is some wonderful guitar work (both lead and bass), brilliantly funky keyboards, and some incredibly crisp drumming. I don't even usually notice percussion to any great extent, but I found myself listening to how sharp and precise the drumming was, and yet it still felt lively and organic. Second, the band members also seem to share the song-writing credits and they all (at one point or another) take lead vocals, which makes for some quite diverse tracks. Some of their songs are quiet and folk-influenced, some are hard, driving rock, and some really funky. They also do some really good covers, including a wonderful cover of Cream's 'Badge'. It takes a lot of confidence and skill to take on a classic from such respected musicians, but they pull it off with considerable aplomb, and bring a new feeling to it. Judging from their performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test, they were also electric live, and didn't exploit their unusual status as an all-female band at all, but just relied on being great musicians, regardless of gender.

I also love 'I Just Realised', 'It Takes a Lot of Good Lovin'' and 'Seven Roads', but there's a lot to choose from. You can buy the collection on iTunes, but the next time I go to our local vinyl shop, I'll be rummaging through the 'F' section seeing if I can find any of their albums on vinyl, because that would be a real treat.