Back in the days when women were consigned to vocal groups, solo artists, and occasionally fronting a rock band (Janis Joplin, Grace Slick), the all-female hard rock band Fanny was a breath of fresh air and a giant step forward for the American music scene. They may not have been the very first all-woman rock band, but they were the first to find some mainline commercial success as their second album, 1971’s Charity Ball, reached number 40 on the Billboard Pop Chart.
Guitarist/vocalist June Millington, bassist/vocalist Jean Millington, keyboardist/vocalist Nickey Barclay, and drummer/vocalist Alice De Buhr came together in the late 1960’s. By the time they released their third album, Fanny Hill during 1973, they were an established and veteran band. That album has now been reissued in an expanded edition with six bonus tracks.
Fanny Hill is perhaps their most accomplished album. Consisting of two covers and eight originals, which include ballads and rockers, plus socially conscious lyrics that were in tune with the times, it was an album that resonated during its era.
The two covers are both creative. They reached deep into the Beatles catalogue for their version of “Bulldog.” It rocks hard and has a different tempo than the original. The Beatles even gave them permission to write a third verse. Their take on the soul classic “Ain’t That Peculiar” is another rocker. June Millington’s slide guitar gives it a unique foundation.
“Knock On My Door,” “Blind Alley,” and “Borrowed Time,” may be a little dated lyrically but they are solid pieces of rock and roll. “You’ve Got A Home” moves in a different direction with a folk approach.
The added tracks are highlighted by the forgotten single, “Young And Dumb,” which is an old Ike Turner composition. “No Deposit No Return” is an unissued track from the same 1971 sessions and is another good rocker.
Fanny Hill is in some ways a product of its time but remains a good glimpse into the burgeoning rock scene of the early 1970’s. It is still worth a listen or two.