The “B” Girls were one of the great missed opportunities of the late ’70s. Too ambitious for the burgeoning but humble Toronto punk scene, the all-female quartet relocated to New York City and became a fixture at CBGB, where they rubbed shoulders with all the right people. The photogenic foursome were pictured hanging out with Blondie and the Ramones, romanced such luminaries as Stiv Bators, opened for the Clash, recorded demos (separately) produced by Debbie Harry and Mick Jones and contributed backing vocals to Blondie’s Autoamerican. The only thing they never seemed to get around to doing during the several years they were a band was to land a record deal or to officially release any music beyond one single on Bomp. The “B” Girls called it quits in 1982, leaving behind one 45, lots of pictures in magazines and a handful of demos.
The band’s single, demos and assorted live recordings (including a version of “Chinese Rocks”) were collected 15 years later on Who Says Girls Can’t Rock. The collection reveals a fun garage-pop combo with plenty of promise and songs that, if not earthshaking, are for the most part as good or better than a lot of what saw release at the time. “Boys Keep Drinking,” “Two Hearts” and “Savage Fever” could have become new wave standards had they seen the light of day. Original vocalist Lucasta is a spirited punk belter on both sides of the Bomp single (“Fun at the Beach” and “B-Side”) — her departure the night before the band was to open for the Clash in Toronto was a definite blow. Her replacement, Xenia, is a weaker but still engaging vocalist as long as she doesn’t have to hit too many high notes, which Craig Leon allowed her to try too often on the songs he produced. The tracks produced by Jones and Harry are among the strongest ones here, showcasing a lively pop combo performing with punk energy. The “B” Girls themselves may have been their own best producers — contrasting their energetic self-produced take of “Alibi” with the tame Leon-produced version is especially instructive. In the end, Who Says Girls Can’t Rock offers good evidence as to why there was a buzz around the band circa 1980. If the album isn’t quite a great lost new wave classic, it does demonstrate that the “B” Girls might have had one in them had things worked out differently.