I don’t know about you, but when I think about rock and roll, my thoughts don’t usually turn toward Norway. However, as the album’s co-producer (along with former Plasmatic and Disciple of Soul Jean Beauvoir), Steve Van Zandt, points out in his thoughtful liner notes, “Scandanavia consistently displays an unflinching reverence for the history of rock, and American pop culture in general.” How Van Zandt found this band of five working-class women from Oslo I don’t know, but he not only co-produced the album, he wrote two of the songs, including the title track, which has a chorus that recalls some of the great songs he wrote for the early Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes albums.
I had the chance to see these women perform at SXSW this year, and they’re capable musicians and songwriters. More importantly, they understand what rock and roll is all about, and display undeniable commitment to the tenets of the form. Oh, and they know how to make people dance.
The Cocktail Slippers wrote eight of the twelve songs here (the deluxe vinyl edition also includes a CD with the entire album plus three bonus tracks). From this group, the strongest entries are the pounding, beat-driven “Anything You Want” and “In the City.” In some respects, their sound is a somewhat heavier update of the girl groups that proceeded them, including the Go-Go’s, the Bangles, and even the Shangri-La’s.
The album’s best track, though — and one I hope they’ll release as a single — is the fuzzed-out update of the old Lesley Gore classic “She’s a Fool.” Elsewhere, there’s a nice revival of the Ellie Greenwich/Jeff Barry song “Don’t Ever Leave Me,” which was a minor hit for Connie Francis.
The Cocktail Slippers, along with Van Zandt and Beauvoir, have done a great job of putting a modern spin on the classic girl group aesthetic without sacrificing any of its inherent joy. Leaving no space between the tracks insures a seamless rock and roll experience. And, as I said earlier, it makes you dance.