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Having been a fan of The Bangles from the moment I first heard “The Real World” sometime in late ’82, I was always curious-to-irritated as to why the five song E.P., which was originally released by Faulty Products, then re-issued by I.R.S. Records (the parent label) was never put on CD – never included in any Bangles compilations and so on.  Certainly, “The Real World” was an instant classic and to me, the track that put The Bangles on the map.  So since the advent of compact discs and then digital, those five songs from their earlier, more garage/”Paisley Underground”-era have been missing in action – that period when the delightful Annette Zilinskas played bass and The Bangles were on the road with the likes of The English Beat and R.E.M.

Happy to say that The (re-formed) Bangles have seen fit to finally issue those five great songs, along with some other gems and lost treasures on a new download compilation, Lades And Gentlemen…  The Bangles, through their own resurrected DownKiddie imprint.  This “album” includes the 5-song, self-titled E.P., their debut indie single from 1981, “Getting Out Of Hand”/”Call On Me” (initially issued under the moniker “The Bangs”) and several demos and live tracks from the period.

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How can you not be intrigued by and love their versions of “Outside Chance” (an ’81 demo) and “Seven And Seven Is” (live, early ’84)?  Hearing The Bangles in their raw-er, live setting reminds you of what a terrific live band they were, even in that first phase – perhaps (biased, I know) their best period.  But going back to the originally released single and E.P., it’s a joy to hear them in a clean, crisp, digitally remastered fashion.  “Getting Out Of Hand” and the rave-up frenzy of “Call On Me” are the perfect table setters for that five song masterpiece.

The power and perfection of “The Real World” notwithstanding, the wonderfully Beatlesque “I’m In Line” is a pure powerhouse, with “Taxman”-like influence written all over it – and who could ask for more?  “Want You” is a 100-mile-an-hour riff and rave fest and “Mary Street” just shines with pop gold.  The band’s cover of The La Di Da’s “How Is The Air Up There?” closed out the original e.p. and still sounds as perfectly snarling as it did when I first heard it in ’82.  The opening instrumental “Bitchen Summer” is cool and Ventures-like and a great opener to this compilation.

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So plug in, download and let yourself be re-introduced to what made this band so great; so special and important – at a time when the American Underground was starting to bubble with excitement, intensity and melody.

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Lades And Gentlemen…  The Bangles is available now

www.thebangles.com