The Daisy Chain
Straight or Lame
Recording one magical platter during the summer of love called Straight Or Lame, the Fullerton, California all female rock band The Daisy Chain combined a Rascals influenced soul sound with the trippier San Francisco hippy pop fitting for the times in 1967. The album was dastardly rare though, and thankfully has been reissued on CD for the first time taken from the mono master tapes by Sundazed in 2005.
All female rock reissues are rare not only because there were only a few who recorded, but also because they often only released singles if they were recorded at all. So while we do get to hear some reissues through the years like She, Fanny or The Luv'd Ones, many groups like The Clingers, Rock Flowers or many others end up on Girls in the Garage comps or wallow in vinyl obscurity.
The Daisy Chain consisted of Shel Le, Camille, Rosemary Lane, and Dee Dee Lea. Two of the members, Rosemary (as Rosemary Butler) and Shel Le (as Shele Pinizzotto) later went onto the all female hard rock trio Birtha who released two albums on Dunhill (a self-titled album and a second album called Can't Stop the Madness) in 1972 and '73, respectively, with the help of Steppenwolf producer Gabriel Mekler. Both Birtha albums were reissued as a two-fer on the See For Miles label in the UK in 1997. For some reason it took awhile for The Daisy Chain album to get the same treatment.
Back in 1967, The Daisy Chain were bouncing around in the Sunset Strip scene, going to shows in their daisy painted car. You can hear the birth of Birtha in the harder rocking, soulful sounds on Straight Or Lame. But like Birtha, the songs aren't particularly memorable, though it's great to hear girls rock out. The best of the hard rocking tunes are Got to Get You in My Arms and We'll Meet Again, both of which point the way to the hard rocking sounds that would come later. These two songs would've made for a fine single together.
The album is augmented by horns at times to fill out the sound, which aren't really needed, though I'll Come Runnin' has a nice horn solo in it. I think that was a style at the time, like the Carrie Nations/Kelly Affair tracks on the Beyond the Valley of the Dolls soundtrack or any of the Josie and the Pussycats styled all girl rock bands of the time. It was probably thought the horns could augment the girls' playing.
Really, where The Daisy Chain shine the most on Straight Or Lame are the more trippy sides. Odd song structures, acoustic guitars, farfisa organ, harmonica and cooing background vocals add up to an off putting and trippy sound. All Because of Him is bossa gone bad, with backwards flutes and harmonica that add to the trippiness. Zzotto is an organ drenched tune with one of the best melodies. Run Spot Run has an echoed vocal, dabs of flute and off key background vocals which add up to a sweet but odd number. Superfluous Daisy has a daisy theme which sort of makes it the bands' theme song and combines the harder rocking sound with their trippier side in a good way. Final Hour is a Monkees styled album closer which could've been honed a little tighter but ends the album commendably.
It's too bad the rest of the album isn't up to the par of these songs, but tracks like Unhappy for Me (which tries to be a female soul ballad but nearly but doesn't really work), Love Them All (a song that meanders along with some fine parts like a fuzzed guitar solo but that doesn't add up to a whole), Love to Share (there's a good song buried in this track but it's too rushed a performance), and I'll Say Goodbye (off key upbeat soulful number) needed to be fleshed out as songs or scrapped, before being put out on record.