June and Jean Millington, Play Like A Girl

Jim Farber

By Jim Farber

on 08.22.11 in Reviews

Time is on the Millingtons’ side — finally. Forty-one years after sisters June and Jean played on the first all-female rock album ever released by a major label (Fanny), they’ve issued a disc that properly presents them as mothers of a revolution, the original riot grrrls.

Properly presenting June and Jean Millington as mothers of a revolution

“Before computers, before the Gap, before Madonna, before rap,” June growls in “I Love Your Hair.” She’s asserting her general place in history, one, which, more to the point, arrived before the Runaways, Sleater-Kinney and a zillion other girl bands that followed in Fanny’s wake. The foursome’s original albums (released 1970-74) stripped rock to its core, offering a hip-shaking, funkafied sound, which the sisters revive with both gusto and humor on Play Like A Girl.

The title track, a crunchy rocker, turns the title phrase on its head, turning a put-down used against them into a boast. Its chaser, “I Love Your Hair,” finds the now 63-year-old June proudly displaying her un-dyed white locks as proof of her wisdom and undimmed defiance.

But it’s not just history or gender politics that makes this music rock. The disc consists of nothing but June on guitar, Jean on bass and Jean’s son Lee Madeloni on drums, for a power trio at its most elemental. The women favored a live sound, both in the soul-inflected rockers and the more fluid ballads. Better, they’re all fired by a sensibility that both acknowledges the players’ role in history and hits hard enough to make all those issues moot.