Ace of Cups, ’60s all-women band, make timely de­but

The Sentinel-Record - - ARTS, ETC. - PABLO GORONDI

The all-fe­male Ace of Cups was part of the late ’60s psy­che­delic scene in San Fran­cisco, open­ing for Jimi Hen­drix and The Band but with­out ever record­ing an al­bum. Un­til now, over 50 years later.

“It’s Bad for You but Buy It!” — a col­lec­tion of old demos, re­hearsals and live per­for­mances — was is­sued in Bri­tain in the 2000’s but this self-ti­tled dou­ble al­bum is their stu­dio de­but and it’s an emo­tional, ab­sorb­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Helmed by pro­ducer Dan Shea (Mariah Carey, Ce­line Dion), four of the orig­i­nal five band mem­bers — Mary Gan­non, Denise Kauf­man, Mary Simp­son and Diane Vi­talich — show how sharp their in­stru­men­tal, song­writ­ing and vo­cal chops still are.

The songs, nearly all writ­ten by Kauf­man or Gan­non, are brim­ming with ap­peal­ing har­monies and range from en­er­getic rock­ers like “Feel Good” and “Cir­cles” to blues (“Mama’s Love”), coun­try (“On the Road”) and folk (“Ma­cushla/The­lina”), with some psy­che­delic and pro­gres­sive in­flu­ences also in the mix. Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” is a trib­ute to past gen­er­a­tions but also about their own fam­ily roles.

Guests in­clude Taj Ma­hal, Bob Weir, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jack Casady, Jorma Kauko­nen, Char­lie Mus­sel­white and Peter Coy­ote, all mak­ing dis­tin­guished con­tri­bu­tions.

The al­bum comes with de­tailed notes to each song and the story be­hind “Stones,” with lyrics now re­worked to re­flect Kauf­man’s har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at the deadly 1969 Al­ta­mont con­cert, is quite dis­tress­ing and very un­flat­ter­ing to the event’s head­lin­ers, the Rolling Stones.

Hear­ing “Ace of Cups,” one can imag­ine what the band may have sounded like all those decades ago. Also in­cor­po­rat­ing some of their ex­pe­ri­ences from the years since makes for an even richer out­come.

The As­so­ci­ated Press

WOMEN: The self-ti­tled al­bum for Ace of Cups.

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