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Salem 66


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Alternative rock. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Status:

They seem to have broken up in the mid 1990s or so.

See also:

Wikipedia entry on Salem 66

Trouser Press article on Salem 66

Comparisons:

Bettie Serveert; some Cowboy Junkies, Mazzy Star and/or Pretenders. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

As best I can recall, I first stumbled across a Salem 66 album in the used section of an independent record store which specialized in alternative music, toward the end of 1989. I was glad I did then, and I'm glad I did now. This is a band you probably haven't heard very much about; but within the universe of woman-led bands, it's one of the best I've come across; indeed, it's one of the best alternative bands of any gender composition I've come across.
     I've inferred from the information on the inlay cards that they are—or, in the worst case, were—from the Boston area; apart from that, I know very little about them. As such, their music has spoken for itself, so to speak. It's pleasing, guitar-intensive rock that would have been at home with the likes of Jefferson Airplane in the era of psychedelic rock in the late 60s, but isn't quite like the music of any of the bands of that genre/period with which I am familiar. Compared to other woman-led bands of recent years, their brand of rock is significantly harder than The Sundays, The Story, et al., but softer than Caterwaul, not to mention L7 et al. Overall, it seems to most closely resemble the music of Bettie Serveert, albeit venturing slightly more often than the latter into slightly dissonant tunes. Salem 66 also seems, at times, to resemble the Cowboy Junkies, and possibly Mazzy Star, at least with regard to certain of their tracks. A few tracks also seem reminiscent of Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders. The literary level of the lyrics is well within the standards of the midlist—not high concept, likely not too attractive to most top-40 program directors, but at the same time not unduly inscrutable. I don't know if Salem 66 is still in business or not; I certainly hope so. If you run across one of their albums in a used or specialty store, buy it; you're likely to be favorably impressed. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

I used to love Salem 66! The album of their that sticks in my head is Frequency and Urgency. They were a fun, quirky band with two female vocalists, one who played guitar, the other, bass. They also had a female keyboard player and I think a man on drums. They were a fun live band too. (colford@chlotrudis.org)

they're an all-girl trio that played out in Boston during the mid-80s. I picked up a copy of their first EP in a local used bin, and while it didn't completely bowl me over, it did pique my interest enough to want to hear more. (tugboat@channel1.com)

Recommended first album:

No clear choice; perhaps Natural Disasters, National Treasures. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Recordings:


A Ripping Spin

Release info:

1985—Homestead (USA)—HMS030C [MC]

Availability:

Specialty retail, used, some full-line new record dealers.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Group members:

Judy Grunwald—guitar, vocals
Beth Kaplan—bass, vocals
Susan Merriam—drums
Robert Wilson Rodriguez—guitar

Frequency and Urgency

Release info:

1987—Homestead (USA)—HMS078C [MC]

Availability:

Specialty retail, used, some full-line new record dealers.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Natural Disasters, National Treasures

Release info:

1988—Homestead (USA)—HMS 094-4 [MC]

Availability:

Specialty retail, used, some full-line new record dealers.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended. (mapravat@prairienet.org)

Group members:

Tim Condon—guitar
Judy Grunwald—guitar, vocals
Beth Kaplan—bass, vocals
James Vincent—drums
Ethan James—mouth harp, Japanese treats


Thanks to Mitch Pravatiner and Jens P. Tagore Brage for work on this entry.

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