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- Sep 22, 2018
- Underground in America
- SL Rez
- Joined SLU
- May 2009
- SLU Posts
It’s hard to say what, exactly, was in the water in Liverpool in the early 1960s that wound up producing the Merseybeat sound and hundreds of groups of varying success. Four teenagers caught the scene by surprise and found screaming fans at every turn. Their names were Mary, Sylvia, Pam and Val.
It wasn’t only their sound that turned heads. They were The Liverbirds, Britain’s first all-female rock ’n’ roll band. Sitting down with surviving members Mary McGlory and Sylvia Saunders, you’d never know these two exceedingly charming Scouse (that means they come from Liverpool) matriarchs rocked a tour with The Rolling Stones. Lent their instruments to The Kinks. Rolled joints for Jimi Hendrix.
John Lennon himself told them that girls don’t play guitar.
Well, John, they did. Imagine that. “Almost Famous” is a special Op-Docs series of short films directed by Ben Proudfoot featuring people who nearly made history — only to fall short. These are tales of overcoming disappointment at its most epic, from an astronaut who never flew to a superstar who never was.
The year was 2011, we were on a big family road trip during the summer holidays. My cousin had made a mix CD for the journey: we’re talking Super Bass, that Katy Perry track about getting abducted by sexy aliens, the now largely forgotten Like a G6 – bangers only. But the song that will always stand out from that trip was a little number called S&M. Rihanna’s brash EDM-pop era was glorious but, without wishing to pander to stereotypes, my family is Indian and we do not talk about sex. The first time it played, I convinced myself that the adults weren’t really listening, but the CD got played again and again, until eventually my cousin and I were brazenly singing along to it all. At one point, as Rihanna chanted “S-S-S-and-M-M-M” accompanied by two teenage girls, my mum asked, curiously: “What does S&M mean?” There was silence in the car, filled only with aggressive synths and the words: “Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it!” No one said anything and my mum asked again, impatiently. Eventually, someone mumbled: “You can look it up when we get home.” I don’t know if she did, nor do I want to. Even now, should that song come on, I can feel myself physically cringing.