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Four Bitchin' Babes


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Contemporary folk, with a fair percentage of humourous songs.

Status:

Most recent release, Mid Life Vices (2012)

See also:

Four Bitchin' Babes site

Solo Ectophiles' Guide pages for Patty Larkin, Christine Lavin, Cheryl Wheeler

Comparisons:

Patty Larkin, Cheryl Wheeler, Christine Lavin, On a Winter's Night. (Sherlyn.Koo)

Covers/own material:

Mostly original songs, with a few covers

General comments:

Four Bitchin' Babes is a group put together by Christine Lavin after a songwriter's retreat in 1990. Since then they have gone through many lineup changes. The first three lineups of the group consisted of regular members Christine, Sally Fingerett and Megon McDonough, plus a fourth "rotating chair" which is currently being filled by Debi Smith of The Smith Sisters. Former occupants of the fourth chair include Patty Larkin, Julie Gold, Cheryl Wheeler and Kristina Olsen. In 1997 Christine Lavin left the group and was replaced by singer/songwriter Camille West.
     Originally formed as a touring group, on stage the Babes take turns singing lead and harmony on each others' songs. Their albums (2 live, 2 studio to date) also follow this format, with a selection of songs from each Babe. Individually, each of the past and present members of the Four Bitchin' Babes (past and present) is a wonderful songwriter and performer in her own right; collectively, they are superb. It's obvious that they have a lot of respect for one another, but most importantly, they have fun, and that's what makes their music so enjoyable. Gabby Road is excellent. Camille West is very very, VERY funny! Debi Smith in my opinion is kind of average, but what do I know. (Sherlyn.Koo)

Comments about live performance:

I went to see the Four Bitchin Babes in Annapolis. This was my 3rd time seeing them, though the first with Camille West. My general feeling was that they can't keep up the natural zaniness that Christine Lavin brings to the show, but it was still a fun evening. Pretty much everyone had some standout moments, but it got off to a pretty slow start (and I'm not sure it was really worth the steep-ish price).
     Debi Smith—Sherlyn said she was kind of boring, and I'd have to agree. However, one of my friends ran out at the break and immediately bought her disc, saying she was his favorite, so she was certainly winning over some people. The first half of the show was on the slow side, and she didn't impress me at all until she closed out the set with a rousing number about her ideal man (who would be an exquisite chef), accompanying herself with some pretty exciting bodhran playing. (More bodhran seems to be a constant chant of mine.) She was much stronger in the second half, playing a strange Italian opera number and a few other, stronger songs.
     Sally Fingerett—Sally has always been one of my favorite babes, and one of the few whose discs I buy. Her set wasn't as strong as usual, but she still played a number of poignant, moving songs with her usual stirring emotions and detailed lyrics. Plus, she had the most embarrassing joke of the evening (probably no one should ever have said they were "roadkill on the information superhighway", but certainly it shouldn't be said NOW.)
     Megan McDonough—I never warm to her, and think her role as sort of the "leader" of the babes is really their death knell. Technically, she probably has the strongest voice, but she seems really keen on singing sappy songs in a Broadway show style which really does nothing for me. She said she played Patsy Cline in a production somewhere, and it was so hard for me to imagine her bringing to life songs the way Patsy Cline could.
     Camille West—Ok, so she really is drop dead funny. Endless streams of double entendres and amusing observations. I doubt I'd want to listen to a disc too many times, but it made for a very lively performance. And while I usually would take the mention of Viagra by a comedian as a prime time to go to the bathroom, she managed to write a pretty bawdy song on the subject that was entertaining throughout. She and Sally Fingerett doing an endless stream of Jewish American Princess impressions were something I would definitely cut out of their show.
     So, a mixed bag; highlights were around, but not enough to merit the price. (neal)

Recommended first album:

Fax It! Charge It! Don't Ask Me What's For Dinner!

Recordings:


Buy Me Bring Me Take Me: Don't Mess My Hair—Life According to Four Bitchin' Babes (Live at the Birchmere)

Release info:

1991—Philo—PH 1140

Availability:

Readily available in the U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for folk fans

Group members:

Sally Fingerett—vocals, piano, acoustic guitar
Patty Larkin—vocals, acoustic guitar
Christine Lavin—vocals, acoustic guitar
Megon McDonough—vocals, piano, acoustic guitar

Produced by:

Christine Lavin

Comments:

Recorded over two nights at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, Buy Me Bring Me Take Me: Don't Mess My Hair! is Four Bitchin' Babes' first live album. The songs are all excellent, ranging from ballads such as Sally Fingerett's "Home Is Where the Heart Is" to more lighthearted songs like Patty Larkin's "Not Bad For a Broad" and Christine Lavin's "Good Thing He Can't Read My Mind". Overall, the tone of the album is fun, including as it does a game show and "special guest appearances by two surprised audience members". But what really sets the tone is how much the Babes seem to be enjoying themselves, both performing and listening to one another. An immensely enjoyable album, definitely recommended for any folk music fan. (Sherlyn.Koo)

Buy Me Bring Me Take Me: Don't Mess My Hair—Life According to Four Bitchin' Babes Volume 2

Release info:

1993—Philo—PH 1150

Availability:

Readily available in the U.S.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for folk fans

Group members:

Sally Fingerett—vocals, acoustic guitar, piano
Julie Gold—vocals, piano
Christine Lavin—vocals, acoustic guitar
Megon McDonough—vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion, piano

Guest artists:

Michael Bacon—cello
Cliff Eberhardt—vocals
Jon Gordon—electric tremolo guitar, acoustic bottleneck guitar, electric guitar, bottleneck slide guitar
Zev Katz—bass, pick bass
David Kumin—electric piano
Ronnie Lawson—Hammond C3 organ, Wurlitzer electric piano
James Murphy—percussion, drums

Produced by:

Four Bitchin' Babes and Steve Rosenthal

Comments:

The second installment in the saga of the Four Bitchin' Babes features Grammy Award-winning songwriter Julie Gold taking the place of the constantly-touring Patty Larkin. Again, songs range from ballads, including Julie's song "From a Distance", to more upbeat numbers such as Megon McDonough's "Butter" and Christine Lavin's "Bald Headed Men". Another highly enjoyable album from four talented women. (Sherlyn.Koo)

Fax It! Charge It! Don't Ask Me What's For Dinner!

Release info:

1995—Shanachie—8018

Availability:

Readily available in the U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for folk and pop fans

Group members:

Sally Fingerett—vocals, acoustic guitar, piano
Christine Lavin—vocals
Megon McDonough—vocals, piano
Debi Smith—vocals, acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Larry Cook—acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vibes
Rhonda Frascotti—violin
Dan Green—vocals
Trevor Handy—cello
Sam Hooff—drums
Gary Lunn—fretless bass, bass
Jim Maneri—piano
Tom Martin—bass, horn, piano, string, percussion arrangements, electric bass
Ken Matsuda—viola
Ronn Price—drum, percussion, vocal and keyboard arrangements
Tom Roady—percussion, bells
Mary Travels—vocals

Produced by:

Dan Green/Amerisound

Comments:

Fax It! Charge It! Don't Ask Me What's For Dinner! is Four Bitchin' Babes' most sophisticated and pop-py album to date. Slickly produced (but not overproduced) by Dan Green, who also happens to be Sally Fingerett's husband, this album was also the first time the Babes had worked with a vocal arranger, producing some of their best harmonies yet. As usual, songs range from ballads such as Sally Fingerett's "Clover" to the less serious (Megon McDonough's "Microwave Life") to the downright humourous (Christine Lavin's "Great Big Bug" and Debi Smith's "Muzak"). This album also features a reworked version of Christine's classic song "What Was I Thinking?". All in all, this album is another great effort; highly recommended for both folk and pop fans. (Sherlyn.Koo)

Gabby Road (live)

Release info:

1997—Shanachie—8028

Availability:

Available in the U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for folk fans, especially fans of comedic folk

Group members:

Sally Fingerett—vocals, acoustic guitar, piano
Megon McDonough—vocals, acoustic guitar
Debi Smith—vocals, acoustic guitar, bodhran
Camille West—vocals, acoustic guitar

Produced by:

Production coordinated by Sally Fingerett and Debi Smith

Comments:

A Four Bitchin' Babes album without Christine Lavin? Sure, it sounds like a far-fetched idea (Christine was the founding member of the Babes, after all), but this CD certainly proves that there can be life beyond Lavin. Camille West steps ably into the empty spot, bringing a fresh new voice and wicked sense of humour with her. It's also obvious that the Babes have been working with a vocal arranger—the harmonies are better than ever. Recorded live on stage at the Birchmere, the Babes have never sounded better—nor have they ever been more fun. This excellent album features the usual Babe range of ballads (Megon's "My Father", Sally's "Wild Berries") and wacky songs (Camille's reworking of an old Gordon Lightfoot tune, "The Nervous Wreck of Edna Fitzgerald", Sally's "Breakfast Dishes") plus much more, including a game show, a knock-your-socks-off cover of "Crazy" and a hilarious version of "Wild Thing". Highly recommended; near the top of my list of Top 10 Albums of 1997. (Sherlyn.Koo)

Further info:

The DVD Meet the Babes was released in 2001


Thanks to Sherlyn Koo for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2013-09-01 18:10:40.
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