The 80s chart toppers have returned to spirit us back to that weird transitory period between the coiffed girl groups of the early 60s and today's mistrustful riot grrrls. The Bangles sprouted from LA's paisley underground scene in the early 80s, compatriots of the Three o'Clock, Rain Parade, Green on Red, and the Dream Syndicate, and like their daffier peers the Go-Go's they were snapped up by IRS in the label's first flush of new-wave glory. After a solid EP they moved up to blue-chip Columbia Records and released All Over the Place (1984), which neatly integrated 60s west-coast harmonies with the vigor of the underground and biting lyrics about men. The album is a classic, but it yielded no radio hits and the cool mod band was subsequently airbrushed into a quartet of Cosmo girls. Vicki Peterson and Susanna Hoffs were top-flight songwriters, yet three of the four singles from Different Light (1985) were written by men (Prince's "Manic Monday," Jules Shear's "If She Knew What She Wants," and Liam Sternberg's "Walk Like an Egyptian"), as was the follow-up single (Paul Simon's "A Hazy Shade of Winter"). In 1987 Hoffs donned a bikini to star in the cheesy teen film The Allnighter, causing a rift in the band; by the time the Bangles wrapped it up, in 1989, their calling card was the sappy number one hit "Eternal Flame." Peterson has since turned out a few folk-rock gems with her New Orleans band, the Continental Drifters, and Hoffs has released two solo albums; the Bangles first reunited a couple years ago to cut a track for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, then performed Beatles songs in a tribute to George Martin at the Hollywood Bowl. Now the subject of an episode on VH1's Behind the Music, they've scheduled a seven-city tour and promise a new studio album, and reportedly they plan to keep a better grip on the reins this time around. Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Henry Diltz.