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Penelope Houston: Snapshot

[cover art]

2003 cover EP from ex-punk Houston, with a cover of "It Makes No Difference".

Penelope Houston's solo career has long veered from her snarling roots with the Avengers, one of the West Coast's pioneering punk bands. Her transformation in the 80's from punk goddess to singer-songwriter not only showcased a surprisingly tender yet fierce soprano, but probably heralded the likes of Liz Phair and Tanya Donelly.

On her latest, Snapshot, an EP consisting of five choice covers mining a late 60's and early 70's sound, Houston is backed by the Maydays, a tight mod trio complete with psychedelic Moog synthesizer. And if these tracks were some of her influences, it's no surprise that Houston settled into this less blistering folk-rock sound.

Snapshot is a garage-pop precursor combining Houston's past with her present, thanks largely to obscure nuggets. The EP is pure pop bliss, particularly in the opener, "Maybe We've Been Loving Too Long," a track originally recorded by the Flying Machine. The only recognizable track is the Band's "It Makes No Difference," which remains a largely intricate, piano-driven success.

-- Kim Newman, Venuszine, April 2004


(with comments from
  1. Maybe We've Been Loving Too Long was the original flip side to the smash hit "Smile a Little Smile For Me" by the Flying Machine. Bubblegum through and through, it gets a straight-ahead workout with backing vocals by The Moore Bros.

  2. I've Got a Feeling by Brit folk rockers the Pentangle gets a radical makeover that swings much harder and features some Roxy Music inspired Moog blurts.

  3. The Band's It Makes No Difference is a bittersweet masterpiece with the incredible backing harmonies of Willow Willow and some lovely understated piano work by Pat Johnson. A heartbreaker.

  4. Penelope rewrites the lyrics to Love Machine by the Shocking Blue and has a particular snarl in her voice. Another interpretation that veers far from the original - but who remembers the original?

  5. Though You Are Far Away is by former Zombies vocal god Colin Blunstone. Just Penelope and Pat Johnson on guitar, it's a melancholic stunner.

Penelope Houston - Snapshot - 2004 - Flare Records SF

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