The unashamedly ’60s-obsessed Pandoras (led by singer/writer/guitarist Paula Pierce) were revivalists in the best sense of the word, recapturing the gleeful amateurism of vintage garage-punk-pop while adding their own cheerfully slutty persona to the mix. Following an energetically amateurish 7-inch EP, the LA band made its longplaying debut on It’s About Time (produced by Greg Shaw), which makes a virtue of its shoestring primitivism. With some crackerjack tunes awash in Pierce’s fuzztones and Gwynne Kelly’s appropriately trashy organ, it’s as good a ’60s punk record as any contemporary combo is likely to make. (The Voxx/East Side Digital CD adds five bonus tracks, including three songs from the EP.)
Pierce ditched the rest of the band soon after the debut LP (though the other three original members continued performing under the Pandoras name for a while) and recorded Stop Pretending with a new lineup. While maintaining the ’60s fixation and playing up the brash-hussy stance, Stop Pretending features stronger playing and a harder-rocking edge (there’s no reason why “In and Out of My Life (In a Day)” shouldn’t have been a hit), suggesting that the Pandoras aren’t as hopelessly mired in historical fetishism as one might assume.
Although the Pandoras were signed to Elektra and recorded an album (entitled Come Inside), the band and label went their separate ways and the LP was scrapped. Instead, the Pandoras issued Rock Hard, five blaring rock songs of horny raunch — with titles like “Six Times a Day,” “Craving” and “He’s Coming” — and one strongly suggestive pop song. Judging by this unseemly musical and lyrical display, Pierce has just discovered masturbation, her G spot or the Runaways. Unless five women in leather singing about sex with the crotch-grabbing delicacy of dockhands sounds like a cheap thrill, avoid being slimed by this embarrassing adolescent tripe.
Demonstrating that Rock Hard was no one-disc stand, the Pandoras recycle four of its songs (alongside others in the same vein) on Nymphomania, a hopeless live set recorded in Dallas. Pierce’s voice is totally unsuited to such loud rock; her uncertain grip on melody and sloppy, out-of-tune guitar work (not to mention drummer Sheri Kaplan’s lame thumping) make listening to this quite a chore. Most significant liner note thank you: “to my human sexuality teacher & classmates.” Just what are they teaching in school these days?
Following that embarrassment, bassist Kim Shattuck and keyboardist Melanie Vammen left to form the Muffs. In the midst of assembling a new band, Pierce, 31, died of an aneurysm on April 10, 1991.