It seems that in recent times there has been a renewed interest in Brijitte West – and rightly so. For those few who were hip to her old band the NY Loose some 15 or so years back now, it comes as no surprise that she is getting some well deserved, yet long overdue recognition for her talent as a singer/songwriter. Her excellent ‘Desperate Hopefuls’ album from last year showed all and sundry that there was still fight left in the girl – and in her debut solo album the she showed that musically she could still pack a punch. Just today I was listening to the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Geek Show’ and Michael Butler did a ‘classic album’s revisited’ show, where he talked with Brijitte about each track on NY Loose’s ‘Year Of The Rat’ album. It got me thinking about NY Loose and, being a fan of the band, I thought I’d share some of my memories and also some photos of some of their releases that I have. I first became aware of NY Loose in around 1994, after reading about them in Flipside and checking out their ‘Loosen Up’ EP. I picked up a Flipside compilation CD and they had a track on that. In 1995 they started getting a little bit of street press here in Sydney, Australia, and I bought their CD EP called ’ Trash The Given Chance’, which received an Australian release on Shock Records. I’m pretty sure there it was their only Australian release. It was a 5 track EP, and the songs were:
Trash The Given Chance, Pretty Suicide, fade, The Desperate Hopeful and This Train Terminates Here. I was instantly hooked on ‘Trash The Given Chance’. In 1996, Mr. Rockbrat and I were in NYC, and reading through the Village Voice saw that the band were playing at the Bottom Line (I think), supporting the Reverend Horton Heat. We opted to get check out some other band, figuring that NY Loose would be doing some more club dates as headliners. Wrong. We saw a stack of bands throughout the US and then the UK, but by the time we got back to Australia in late 97, NY Loose had split and I’d missed the opportunity to see them. A rock ‘n’ roll regret. You know, in a recent post, I put together my 20 or so ‘Desert Island Discs’ and I consciously did not include CD’s – it was vinyl only. If I were to do a ‘Desert Island Discs’ of CDs, NY Loose’s ‘Year Of The Rat’ would be in my Top 10. It’s pop, it’s punk, its dark, its light, and it’s simply great rock n roll. There weren’t too many gal fronted rock outfits on the 90s who delivered the goods – NY Loose were the notable exception. Amongst all that grunge and post grunge excess of the mid 90’s, NY Loose were a breath of fresh air, a reminder that great rock n roll was still around – and outside of Seattle too. Anyways, I reviewed the album back in 1997 for an issue of Vicious Kitten Fanzine, the zine I did with Mr. Rockbrat. Here is my review of the album –
“Brijitte West is somewhat of a visionary. The NY Loose singer, songwriter and guitar player could already have attained world wide success as front lady with Butch Vig’s Garbage, a gig she turned down to pursue her own band – NY Loose. Three years and a couple of EP’s later, that vision has become a reality with the release of this, their debut album. Combining the pop punk sensibility of Blondie with the sheer rawness of the Saints or the Scientists, it is easy to see why this band is currently being hyped by the street press here in Australia. Believe the hype. The album opens with the very catchy ‘Pretty Suicide’, a song inspired by a photo in Life Magazine of a female jumper who’d suicided by throwing herself off the Empire State Building. ‘Rip Me Up’ rocks hard with crunching hooks and an absolute ball tearing chorus. Sing it girl ! ‘Broken’ is classic pop punk at it’s best ala the Vibrators, complete with an infectious melody, nice time changes and is the obvious radio friendly hit. Brijitte screams her heart out on the grinding ‘Dragonfly’ whilst ‘Detonator’ will literally blow your speakers ! Slick production, strong songs, powerful riffing, lots of hooks and enhanced by harmonious vocals. It’s raw, it’s punk, it’s pop, it’s rock n roll and you defi nitely need it !” – Well, at that time that was what I thought of the album, all these years later I am still of the same opinion.
Anyways, whilst in NYC in 96, I purchased a promo (or advance copy) of the album. In Japan in 1998 I picked up a copy of the ‘Bitch’ 45 in a record store in Tokyo, and in 2008 I found a Japanese pressing of the ‘Year Of The Rat’ album in a store in Kyoto. It’s a nice pressing and has totally different artwork to the US release. It includes an extra track to the US release, ‘The Desperate Hopeful’. Anyway, here’s some photos of this stuff for you to check out. Check out Brijitte’s web site and be sure to pick up her current album.