Status of the Greatest of and Latest of The Ladies Of…
The Ladies Of… could’ve named themselves Alabama Georgia Line, but we’re glad they didn’t. The truth is, even though Atlanta’s James Hall boasts the most name recognition of anyone in their lineup, they’ve included numerous members and collaborators among their ranks over the years and as it stands now there are more Alabamans involved than anything. Of course, guitarist/vocalist Jim Troglen (of 1990s Birmingham rockers Autumn Lords) uses multiple pseudonyms so that accounts for some of ’em. Drummer Jack Massey and guitarist Mark Patrick list Tuscaloosa’s Storm Orphans on their resumes and bassist James Wahl plays in Birmingham metallers Stoned Cobra and superb new outfit Rituals. That leaves vocalist Jaz Jillette; the Dallas, Texan – also a part of Hall’s group the Steady Wicked – attended Georgia State but now resides in New York City.
So they’re a bit far-flung geographically, and musically as well, but it largely revolves around a charismatic bonfire familiar to anyone who’s followed Hall’s other musical concerns since the ‘90s: glamorous-trash rock ‘n’ roll swapping spit with sticky-slick funk ‘n’ soul, a horny commotion ignited from a clash of cosmopolitan cool and carnal heat. Handy reference points would be ‘70s/’80s Stones and Bowie, both of whom ingested and regurgitated all manner of genres, among other things, during that period. There are also faint secondhand echoes of certain late ‘80s hair bands – you know, the ones who had more in common with the New York Dolls than a lot of snobs cared to admit – as well as those unfortunate ‘90s hard rock/funk/rap/techno hybrids. Expert Atlanta-based producer Jeff Tomei – basically a full member of The Ladies Of…, at least in the studio – ties the innumerable strands together and gives them cohesion.
The group’s vinyl debut, Greatest Hits Volume One, cherry-picks a dozen cuts from the flurry of digital/CD albums and EPs they’ve issued over the past five years, and it makes a great jumping-in point. Released around the same time last fall, the band’s latest digital album, If You Take Out the Middle Man, You Take Out Yourself, delivers eight fresher tracks, none of which are included on Greatest Hits. With themes and titles suggesting imminent threat, impending eruption, violence, domination, submission, confusion, illumination and the thrill of it all, the tension-and-release is effectively conveyed in the performances on these recordings – and indeed their full catalog, which can be sampled and purchased on their Bandcamp page. Special shout-out to graphic designer Tim Engle, who’s given The Ladies Of… a consistent and effective visual look across their recorded output to date.