The Bangles achieved their greatest success with well-hooked, sparkling pop creations like “Eternal Flame,” “If She Knew What She Wants,” and Prince’s “Manic Monday.” In their formative days, though, they veered more toward punk and harder-edged rock. That’s what they mostly deliver on Ladies and Gentlemen . . . the Bangles!, an odds-and-ends collection of 16 remastered early-1980s tracks, which feature the group’s original lineup. (Michael Steele, who replaced the band’s first bassist, shows up on a couple of live numbers.).
The program, which should interest any serious fan, incorporates three recordings from the days when the band called themselves “The Bangs”; all five tracks from their eponymous minor-label debut EP, which was produced by Craig Leon (Blondie, the Cars); their first single; and some live material, including covers of the Turtles’ “Outside Chance,” Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “Steppin’ Out,” and Love’s “7&7 Is.” (The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs, a devotee of that latter group, would go on to record a terrific cover of their classic “Alone Again Or” with Matthew Sweet.)
Anyone listening to this tightly constructed music, which is enlivened by harmony vocals and bursting with energy, would probably not be surprised to learn that the Bangles went on to score multiple Top 10 hits. Indeed, the best of this package—including “Tell Me” and “The Real World”—sounds every bit as good as much of the better-known work that followed.