Josie Cotton knows what I want.
For most 80's survivors, Miz C., is primarily known for her novelty cult single, "Johnny, Are You Queer?," as well as a memorable performance in the high school concert sequence of Valley Girl. To cognoscenti of smart-and-sexy retro pop femme vocalists, though, she's also much loved for her debut elpee, Convertible Music. A bouncy pop-rock confection which also featured the choice track, "He Could Be the One," plus a swell remake of "Jimmy Loves Mary Ann," it clearly established Cotton as more than just a One Joke Wonder, even if only the hard-core pop-rock addicts paid attention at the time.
Today, our heroine arrives on the CD racks with Invasion of the B-Girls (Scruffy Records), a ten-track set of theme songs from such 60's & 70's era drive-in features as Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat, Kill! Kill! and The Green Slime. While new wave peers like Belinda Carlisle (whose Go-Go's first performed "Johnny" in concert) scramble for dubious pop respectability by attempting to reestablish themselves as serious chanteuses, our Josie keeps focused on stuff that matters. Like girls in go-go boots.
A few of these cuts (e.g., "Maneaters," the theme to Herschel Gordon Lewis's She Devils on Wheels, and "Run Pussy Cat") will most likely be familiar to anyone who's ever attended a Cramps concert – or listened to the bootleg CDs of tunes that these psychobilly greats have taught us. Some are more obscure, though, even to devotees of psychotronic cinema. I've never had the pleasure of viewing Ted V. Mikels' Black Klansman, though judging from its organ-ized heavily relevant theme (performed with early solo Cher-like brio by Cotton), it sounds like a flick I definitely need to see. Ditto Who Killed Teddy Bear?, which sounds like something John Barry or Lalo Schifrin would've tossed off back in the day (check out those swoony real-world strings – straight out of some wannabe James Bond rip-off.)
All of B-Girls's tracks (co-produced with Geza X and Bill Rhea) have the sweet shell of 60’s studio plasticity, with Cotton smoothly moving from Nancy Sinatra bootsiness to Claudine Longet style breathiness. To my ears the primo tracks are the more rockin' ones: "Maneaters," with its "Pushing Too Hard" guitar licks; "Green Slime," "Pussycat" and the harmonica-sweetened "Girl in Gold Boots," which evokes the girl-in-a-cage go-go scene better than the Mikels cheese fest from whence it came. The only misfire is an end-track dance club remix of "Maneaters" – an obvious ploy, but it doesn't match the garage-y grandeur of Cotton's more punkishly performed original.
Cotton even has enough bad taste to respectfully include the leering shouted asides to "Pussycat" ("Faster, faster! Harder, harder!") as well as Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' bizarro summary narration. ("Theirs was not an evil relationship, but evil came because of it!") For those who prefer their B-treats a little more family friendly, she also tackles Mothra's theme (playing both of the pixie twins) and offers up a touching "Goodbye Godzilla."
Tuff gals and the King of the Monsters: like I say, Josie Cotton knows what I want.