WAY BACK IN 1984, way back when people actually believed in “trickle-down economics,” I was living in Scottsdale, Arizona. I had succumbed to the ubiquitous peer pressure question of “Why do you live in the past when it comes to music?” and purchased a couple of albums by the Psychedelic Furs. While I thought the use of the word “psychedelic” in their name may have been ironic, I nonetheless liked their post-punk British rock-pop. 1
When the Furs came to play at the Mesa Amphitheatre, N and I sprang for tickets. This was a big deal for us as we tended not to like live rock music because it had gotten so loud, while the audiences were getting equally loud and the often rude and obnoxious. 2
This was originally published on this site in 2015 as “I Thought They Were The Bangs, Not The Bangles.” It has been rewritten and expanded.
It was a damn near perfect Arizona evening and we got there early to find choice spots on the grassy incline looking down into the stage. I don’t have total recall, but we were almost certainly high and possibly sharing a piece of acidized paper (those were the days).
The show got underway when a group of girls with instruments found their way onto the stage. I choose those words carefully: “girls” because they looked young and they were dressed like girls rather than women. And I say “found” because they looked and acted like they had just been jarred out of a long nap after a long, hard night hitting the bars.
The group’s name was not known to us, as they weren’t even listed on the tickets for the show that we had purchased. N and I prepared for the worst.
Getting Out Of Hand / Call On Me (DownKiddie DK-001) was originally released credited to the Bangs on the record labels and the picture sleeve. The yellow label record with the picture sleeve has a suggested NM value of $100-150. As this seems to be the most valuable of the two pressings credited to the Bangs, I assume it is the first pressing.
Rough but fine harmonies
I don’t remember their opening number nor do I care what their “setlist” was. I remember them doing the Grass Roots’ Where Were You When I Needed You and a few other ’60s classics. We were pleasantly surprised by the lead singers’ ringing voices, the rough but fine harmonies, and the band’s instrumental chops. 3
And how could we not like anything that even hinted at sounding like the Sixties?
While we told each other how much we were enjoying this group, a young woman sitting near us said they were the Bangs (sic) and their first album, ALL OVER THE PLACE, had come out recently. She assured us that if we liked this, then we would like the album. And she was correct: we bought the album and played it all over the place for months.
But their disheveled image left a lot to be desired, so I jokingly suggested to N that she learn to shake a tambourine and then she could join the Bangs and be their sex symbol. (At 28, she was often too beautiful for mere words to describe.)
Their second album in 1986 would present fans with a considerably more polished sound and a considerably more polished image, one that made sex symbols of all of them but especially of Susannah Hoffs, who Columbia was grooming as a solo artist.
The blue label record with the picture sleeve of Getting Out Of Hand / Call On Me (DownKiddie DK-001) has a suggested NM value of $80-100. As this seems to be the least valuable of the two pressings credited to the Bangs, I assume it is the second pressing.
I thought they were the Bangs
For a while afterward, I thought the group that we saw that evening was the Bangs, not the Bangles. So I got to brag, “I saw the Bangles when they were still the Bangs.” Why a group with a couple of albums out as the Bangles would revert to their earlier name for a concert in the desert of the Southwestern United States didn’t dawn on me to ask myself!
The possibility exists that we were told the group we were enjoying was the Bangles but were too stoned and simply heard “the Bangs.”
Finally, the Psychedelic Furs followed the Bangles and made many of us forget the opening act. The Furs had a bigger sound, a far more complicated production (I remember lots of lights), and a fine combination of professionalism tempered by a punky edge.
After the group’s initial success, DownKiddie reissued Getting Out Of Hand / Call On Me with the same catalog number but with both the record and the sleeve crediting the artist as the Bangles. The red label record with the sleeve has a suggested NM value of $25-30.
The Avid Record Collector
The most collectable record associated with the Bangles was their first single in 1981 they had issued when they were a trio known as the Bangs. The members were Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, and Vicki Peterson. Their first single, Getting Out Of Hand / Call On Me (DownKiddie DK-001), was issued with the then requisite homemade-looking picture sleeve. It went nowhere and is a rather rare record today.
The green label record with the picture sleeve of Getting Out Of Hand / Call On Me (DownKiddie DK-001) credited to the Bangles has a suggested NM value of $15-20. 4
Bangling in the round place
This brief piece was originally written earlier this morning as a comment on an article titled “Bangling” at Nondisposable Johnny’s The Round Place In The Middle blog. I ended it with this statement: “So I share your enthusiasm for their first long-player and thank you for including the video of I’ll Keep It With Mine, which I may have left this life-cycle without ever having been aware of otherwise.”I didn’t know who the Bangles were when I saw them as the unannounced opening act for the Psychedelic Furs in 1984. Click To Tweet
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was taken around the time of the Bangles’ appearance at The Ritz in New York on September 28, 1984. It was broadcast live over WLIR-FM at the time. They would remain a critic’s fave until Prince heard them and bestowed the magic song Manic Monday on them, giving them a huge hit and catapulting them into national consciousness and platinum sales in 1986.
1 Wait! I forgot! Tens of millions of Americans who consistently vote Rep*blican still believe in “voodoo economics” and are still (still!!!) anticipating the wealth to trickle down from the pockets of the top 1% of income-earners. This time courtesy of President Trump, who they believe is going to succeed where Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Bush failed them.
2 The archaic skull and crossed bones (N) is as close as I could come to the unprintable mystic symbol that is a shortcode for TWFKATLOML, an initialism for “the woman formerly known as the light of my life.”
3 I believe they did several other songs from the ’60s, including ones by the Yardbirds and Paul Revere & the Raiders.
4 Copies of DownKiddie DK 001 with two other label colors, yellow and blue are supposed to exist, but I couldn’t find them on the Internet.