You remember Suzie Tequila? at least that’s what they all called her back then. Pretty enough, partied a bit too hard for too long, reputed to be a real hellcat in the sack, had a couple of bad men in her life and it took its’ toll. Last time you saw her she was all chipped nails, dull eyes, booze breath and a big sub-jailhouse tattoo on her forearm; poor Suzie T.
Except, you saw her today. Drove up to the coffee place in a brand-new SUV, a cool 4 grand of clothes on her back, perfect hair, toting a big-ass wedding ring and someone fixed her nose and teeth along her way. Her voice was clear and commanding and she walked like she meant it. Hell, if you hadn’t caught a glimpse of that tattoo smudge on her arm you’d have sworn it was a lookalike. Good on ya Suzie!
Which is all a roundabout way to tell you how the Donnas Gold Medal differs from their earlier output. Again, I’ll state it very clearly for the record, expect no objectivity here at all, I love the Donnas unreservedly and I would do even without my animal urges*, they were consistently my favourite punky glam rockers around for a good couple of years around ’99 – ’02, kinda like a musically excellent Runaways. Just go listen to Turn 21, a perfect mix of ‘tude and great licks. After 2002’s (brilliant) Spend the Night they came back two years later with Gold Medal, more polished and more produced.
When I first heard Gold Medal I was a bit deflated, their spikiness had gone – was this really the same band who wrote ’40 Boys in 40 Nights’? and their big rock cover version was missing, their take on ‘Too Fast For Love’ was perfect. Nevertheless over the years this LP has really, really grown on me; or maybe I’ve just grown up enough to appreciate the song writing and melodies on the title track enough.
I’m certainly not saying the Donnas ditched the rock, take the rocking ‘Fall Behind Me’ and the stalkertastic ‘I Don’t Want To Know (If You Don’t Want Me)’ as examples. The staccato riff of the latter is offset by some great vocal harmonies and a great ascending guitar solo from Donna A** and on the former she pinches a trick or two from Ace Frehley, to rock it up to great effect. I’m also a sucker for the slow-build rock out of ‘Is That All You’ve Got For Me’, (‘Oh you’ve got lights they burn out for you / And you’ve got eyes, cocaine white and blue’).
The song writing here is pretty dang good, the snotty punkers the Donnas were in 1998 could never have penned the slick pop rock of ‘Revolver’ or ‘Don’t Break Me Down’ and Butch Walker’s production is spot on too, nice and clean sounding. It’s not a bad trade-off for a bit of teen spirit, not that this band of man-eaters had totally evolved into herbivores by this point, I love the putdown in ‘It Takes One To Know One’, ouch!
I may not be a man
but you’re not one either
The playing throughout is really good from all concerned, no mean feat considering poor Donna C had her tendonitis operated on in 2003 and had to take drum lessons to re-learn how to hold her sticks properly; it would force her retirement from drumming 7 years later. It’s one of my big rock regrets that I never got to see them live, but given my animal urges probably for the best.
Gold Medal is a really good album from the 70’s style swirly girly cover art on in, not quite a gold medal contender though, more of a silver medal by the Donnas own high standards, but still a lot of fun. Well worth checking out though, because although she’s gone all respectable now, you get the feeling Suzie T’s still all kinds of hellcat on the QT.
I should have stalkers like this (sighs):
*I shan’t go into details here, they’re Mrs 1537’s problem, not yours.
**okay so they hadn’t been using the whole band-name-as-surname trick (WHICH I LOVE!!), but they’ll always be Donna A, Donna R, Donna C and Donna F, to me.