Fanny: Fanny (1970)

While it's nice to see Joan Jett and the Runaways (finally) getting some recognition for their groundbreaking work as one of the first all-women rock bands, it seems like Fanny, which predated them by half a decade (and largely came together without outside intervention by some creepy svengali), is destined to remain relegated to the outskirts of classic rock acknowledgment.  Which is a shame, because they were a damn fine band.

The four women of Fanny released four albums in the early 70s (and a fifth after some band reconfigurations), and while they opened for a veritable who's who of rock majesty back in the day, they were entirely absent from classic rock airplay throughout my youth in the 70s and 80s; they eventually came to my attention only through a superb Rhino box set which compiled their first four albums and a ton of live material and outtakes.

Musically, they had a pretty mainstream classic rock sound, a blend of blues and hard rock and folk, with shades of Janis Joplin, Cream, Traffic, and pre-Buckinham/Nicks Fleetwood Mac.  While never flashy, and with few songs that one could fairly call essential classics, they were never anything short of solid, with strong musical performances (particularly in the restrained but impressive guitar licks) and dynamic vocals from all of the band members; they were also pretty great live.

I'd say all of the albums are pretty consistent, none necessarily outshining the others, but the debut does a nice job of establishing the band's bona fides.  Opening track "Come and Hold Me" is a lovely, folky bit of midtempo rock, the sort of thing that presaged Fleetwood Mac's mid-70s sound.  "I Just Realized" shows the band's bluesier side, a sound that would later be built on by bands like Heart.  "Conversation With A Cop" is a nice Joplinesque narrative; "Take A Message To The Captain" is a sweet little pop tune; and there's a perfectly fine cover of Cream's "Badge" to boot.

Sure, if they were an all-male band with a female vocalist, they might just be one of many really good early 70s classic rock stalwarts, but they were far better on their own merits than their absence from the classic rock canon suggests, and you can't downplay how ahead of their time they were, with their influence later acknowledged by bands like the Bangles and the Go-Go's.  You can't go wrong with the debut, but all of their work deserves some attention, invariably good and occasionally great.

(Three-quarters of the original band regrouped in 2018 as Fanny Walked The Earth, releasing a surprisingly decent album that seems to pick up right where they left off.)

Here's an audio rip of "Come And Hold Me" for the Spotify-disabled:
And here's some live footage of their cover of "Badge":