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Music Reissues Weekly: Little Girls - Valley Songs | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: Little Girls - Valley Songs

Music Reissues Weekly: Little Girls - Valley Songs

Deserved tribute to the Los Angeles new wave popsters who failed to click

Little Girls, with a guy. From left: Kip Brown, Michelle Maso, Caron Maso

The name, Caron and Michelle Maso explained to Los Angeles radio DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, was a literal description. “We’re both like five feet. We’re all grown up, but we’re still little.”

Little Girls, the band the Maso sisters formed and fronted was active in Los Angeles over 1980 to 1985. On vinyl, though, the evidence for their existence was limited. In 1981, they contributed a track to the compilation album Rodney On The ROQ Volume 2 – named after Bingenheimer and KROQ, the radio station he worked for. Two years on, there was the six-track, 12-inch EP Thank Heaven! Finally, in 1985, a promo-only, three-track 12-inch. Overall, ten tracks appeared (“Earthquake Song,” from the Rodney On The ROQ comp was re-recorded for Thank Heaven!).

Little Girls_Valley SongsValley Songs is a 26-track set collecting it all, alongside unissued demos, side projects with the Masos on vocals and a few cuts recorded when they reunited in 2005 after having called it a day in 1985.

As a musical calling card, the Rodney On The ROQ version of “Earthquake Song” stood apart from the recently resurgent takes on punk/hardcore on the rise at that point – which defined an aspect of what Los Angeles was about: bands like Little Girls’ co-compilees Black Flag, Minutemen and Social Distortion (the flipside of hair metal). This first taste of Little Girls was surf-inclined new wave, with a smidge of like-mindedness with their close-contemporaries The Waitresses.

Caron and Michelle Maso had – musically – come together in 1980. They formed the band then, recorded “Earthquake Song” in 1981, buttonholed Bingenheimer at a Denny’s diner and gave him a tape of the track. The comp appearance followed. When they encountered the influential DJ, Little Girls was an ad hoc outfit. This changed when the sisters met guitarist Kip Brown at the Troubadour venue. He had been in LA punk band Shock (responsible for the terrific “This Generation’s on Vacation” 45). From hereon in, the constants in Little Girls were Caron and Michelle Maso and Kip Brown.

Little GirlsPVC Records picked them up, and what became the clunkily titled Thank Heaven! EP (geddit: “thank heaven for little girls”) was completed in December 1982, after Little Girls had recorded a demo for Scotti Brothers in October 1982 (heard on Valley Songs; as is a May/June 1982 demo session). Their new label teamed them with producer Ed Stasium, hot from working with The Ramones and Talking Heads.

When Thank Heaven! was issued by PVC in March 1983, it showcased a self-assured band dealing in an immediate buzz-saw powerpop nodding to classic pop – Buddy Holly was in the mix. The six tracks all sound like college radio winners. In a misstep, PVC failed to issue a single, so there was no focus for potentially interested DJs. However, the new version of “Earthquake Song” was featured on TV when it accompanied American Bandstand’s dance segment for ten weeks running. There were one-off shows with Bow Wow Wow, The Plimsouls and The Pretenders but it seems they did get not their name out by touring. They were picked up in 1983 by heavyweight manger Toby Mamis, who was behind 1985’s promo record – Blondie’s Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison played on it. Once pressed, it didn’t attract interest and Little Girls split.

The anti-climax that was Little Girls' path through the music business is curious. What they recorded is mostly great. Really great at its best. But something was missing. They weren’t too-far stylistically from The Go-Go's, who were rooted in the LA's punk scene. Little Girls were outside that. They also weren’t miles from the contemporaneous Bangles, who were tied-in to what became known as The Paisley Underground. Little Girls were outside that too. Perhaps, then, as Little Girls weren’t part of a scene, they failed to achieve the momentum such a connection would have provided? Musing aside, Valley Songs – stuffed with punk-edged new wave pop treats – is a fine tribute to band which should have broken through.

@MrKieronTyler

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