THE LOCAL GIRLS: Very Listenable Precision, Three-Part Harmony Covers of Notable Songs

THE LOCAL GIRLS: Very ListenablePrecision, Three-Part Harmony Covers of Notable Songs

This is a very listenable album with covers of notable songs by such music luminaries as Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, JD Hutchison, and Bruce Dalzell. I especially like “Where the Girls Are” and “I Feel Free.”

Three singers — Brenda Catania, Gay Dalzell, and Mimi Hart — formed The Local Girls in the summer of 1988 in Athens County, Ohio. They have performed at Town Hall in New York City as guests of A Prairie Home Companionwith Garrison Keillor, toured Europe, and sang for Hillary Clinton’s 50thbirthday party. In addition, they have recorded two albums: Let Yourself Go(2000) and Three Little Words(2011). How to best describe them? Swing singers, yes. Vocal jazz, yes. Certainly, they perform precision, three-part harmony as they cover older and newer songs. The chronology of their repertoire ranges from 1854 (Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More” — no, not on this album) to the 1990s (T. Bone Burnett’s “It’s Not Too Late” — yes, on this album).

These are the songs on Let Yourself Go:

“Shout Sister Shout.”Recorded in the 1930s by the Boswell Sisters, a close harmony group. Very jazzy and tuneful. Some lyrics: “Just tell old Satan how you feel / Get that old Devil right off your heel / Shout sister, shout sister, shout!”

“Centerpiece.”Recorded by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross in 1960 on the album titled Lambert, Hendricks and Ross! The Hottest New Group in Jazz. This title is an example of proper (earned) pride. Notably covered by Van Morrison. Some lyrics: “The more I’m with you, pretty baby / The more I feel my love increase / I’m building all my dreams around you / My happiness will never cease / But nothing’s any good without you / ’Cause, baby, you’re my centerpiece.”

“Stay A Little Longer.”Some lyrics: “Stay a little longer / A little bit longer / You know you ain’t got nothing better to do / We’ll blindfold the cat / Put out the dog / Pull the shades and lock the door.” Written by Paula Lockhart with additional lyrics by David Lister. One of my favorites on this album.

“I’ll Never Say ‘Never Again’ Again.” Notably recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio, the Three Ambassadors, Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra, and many more. Some lyrics: “I’ll never say ‘never again’ again / ’Cause here I am in love again / Head over heels in love again with you / I’ll never say, ‘never kiss you’ again / ’Cause here I am kissing you again / That’s just the thing I said I’d never do.”

“I Feel Free.”The Cream song, written by Pete Brown and Jack Bruce. The Local Girls’ version is much less rock and much more harmonic. Some lyrics: “I can walk down the street, there’s no one there / Though the pavements are one huge crowd. / I can drive down the road, my eyes don’t see, / Though my mind wants to cry out loud.”

“Since My Bird Has Flied Away.” The composer, J.D. Hutchison, sings lead, backed up by The Local Girls. A different version of “Since My Bird Has Flied Away” appears on J.D. Hutchison’s album You and the World Outside. Some lyrics: “Pour some more coffee in my coffee cup / I don’t know why, I don’t even like the stuff / But nothing seems to matter / Since my bird has flied away.” The bird, of course, is a woman. Another of my favorites.

“Let Yourself Go.”The Irving Berlin song. Ginger Rogers sang this song, and — of course — danced to it with Fred Astaire. Some lyrics: “Come / Get together / Let the dance floor feel your leather / Step as lightly as a feather / Let yourself go / Come / Hit the timber / Loosen up and start to limber / Can’t you hear that hot marimba? / Let yourself go.”

“Where The Boys Are.”Written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield for the 1960 movie of the same title, starring Connie Francis, Yvette Mimieux, Paula Prentiss, and Dolores Hart. My personal favorite on this Local Girls album. Some lyrics: “Where the boys are / Someone waits for me, / A smiling face, a warm embrace, / Two arms to hold me tenderly. / Where the boys are / My true love will be, / He’s walking down some street in town / And I know he’s looking there for me.”

“Ready On The Firing Line.”Another great song by JD Hutchison. Some lyrics: “In this world / You’ve got to be ready  / Got to have everything just so / You’ve got to be ready just to hang around / Or you’ve got to be ready to go / You’ve got to be ready just to hear the word / You must be ready to read the sign / You must be ready on the left / Ready on the right / Ready on the firing line.”

“The Bozo Blues.”A song by Bruce Dalzell, Gay Dalzell’s husband. Bruce and Gay have made a lot of excellent music in Athens County, Ohio, for decades. This is a bluesy, humorous song about going to Chicago to be on The Bozo Show. Some lyrics: “I’m going to Chicago / Be on that Bozo Show/ Yeah, I’m going to Chicago  / Be on that B-B-Bozo Show/ Yeah, I don’t know where Chicago is / But, mama, I got to go.”

“It’s Not Too Late.”The T-Bone Burnett song. Some lyrics: “The wind turns like a dagger, / the rain falls like a hammer / The sky has grown dark but it’s not too late / The weather crashes down, what’s lost cannot be found / The night is closing but it’s not too late.”

“I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart.”A hit for Patsy Montana & The Prairie Ramblers. Some lyrics: “I want to be a cowboy’s sweetheart / I want to learn to rope and to ride / I want to ride o’er the plains and the desert / Out west of the great divide / I want to hear the coyotes howlin’ / While the sun sets in the West / I want to be a cowboy’s sweetheart / That’s the life that I love best.” Lots of yodeling on this one.

“The Blue Shadows On The Trail.”A Roy Rogers song. Some lyrics: “Blue shadowson the trail / Blue moon shinin’ throughthe trees / And a plaintiff wail from the distance / Comes a driftin’ on the eveningbreeze.”

“Caravan.”The Duke Ellington song. Some lyrics: “Night and stars above that shine so bright / The mystery of their fading light / That shines upon our Caravan / Sleep upon my shoulder as we creep / Across the sands so I may keep / The memory of our Caravan.”

“Mothra vs. Godzilla.”The main title of the 1964 Japanese monster movie of the same name. On Rotten Tomatoes, 90 percent of the critics like the movie. If nothing else, this song proves that The Local Girls are eclectic. Do you speak Monster? I don’t. Look for lyrics elsewhere.

Readers of this review should make heavy use of Amazon’s preview snippets of The Local Girls’ songs on this page: <>.

And check out their Web site: <>.

The Local Girls ought to be famous, but one problem with Athens County is that it’s such a good place to live that excellent music-makers often stay here rather than moving to Nashville, NYC, or LA to seek fame and fortune. Lots of musicians choose to raise their kids in Athens County.

Support local music, and be aware that in the age of the Internet and the WWW, Athens County is local worldwide.

Ready on the Firing Line

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