The Waitresses: King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents – US – CD – 
- No Guilt
- Wise Up
- I Could Rule The World If I Could Only Get The Parts
- I Know What Boys Like
- Pussy Strut
- Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful?
- Go On
- It’s My Car
- Heat Night
- Christmas Wrapping
When commenter KeithC offered to send me an extra copy of this Waitresses CD, it offered me an opportunity to revisit a band who was absolutely crucial to early 1982 when I was a freshman in college and captivated by the twin suns of The Human League’s “Dare” and The Waitresses “Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful.” But I never climbed back onto The Waitresses’ bus for the next album. Come to think of it, it took ages for me tor try the next Human League album. How would this live peek at the band early on play nearly 40 years later?
I can almost no longer remember the studio sound, but the main feature of the band was Patty Donohue’s deadpan brattiness. Her petulant tone set the emotional tenor of the music. Sarcastic and put upon, Chris Butler wrote the songs to reflect the point of a smart woman who was facing an uphill struggle from the rampant stupidity around her between men, jobs, and society at large giving her grief. What an attitude! She doesn’t sing the songs so much as act them out on stage. Hearing her on this disc, it all came back to me. This was the emotional payload that I had responded to back then in spades.
What I hadn’t been prepared for was how this band live had a lot of Frank Zappa-like energy crammed into the busy live arrangements. Lots of tonal and time signature shifts pointed to Zappa and made the listening to this seem much more “active” than I remembered the album being. Thought the presence of Television’s Billy Ficca on drums in the band was probably there for a reason! Apart from the iconic “I Who What Boy’s Like” most of this music was just not simply constructed.
And Mars Williams’ sax here dipped freely into his free-jazz and improvisational foundations as he showed no fear in adding skronk to the proceedings from time to time. All played with a ferocious gusto that marks his talent as a sax player. Dan Klayman’s organ was almost as wild as the sax got and Chris Butler and Tracey Wormworth kept the backing vocals moving to support the complex song structures.
It’s funny, but at times there was almost a ska vibe to tracks like “No Guilt” and especially “I Could Rule The World If I Could Only Get The Parts.” I really don’t remember hearing that anywhere in the debut album and I never heard the “Rule The World” EP so this was the first time to hear that mouthful of a song. But it was certainly great fun.
Given that this show was recorded on February 13, 1982, I was amazed that they closed the show with “Christmas Wrapping!” That was a song from the Ze Records “A Christmas Record” that was only a UK release from 1981. The 1982 US edition that I eventually got would happen later in the year. But more impressively, They thought nothing of performing a Christmas themed song near St. Valentine’s Day! I wish more bands had this attitude.
Overall, this was a more raucous and wild sound than my brain remembers form their debut album. It’s stuffed with frantic energy that was ultimately all held together by the classic deadpan style of Patty Donohue holding court at the center of the energetic maelstrom. Apart from the three Waitresses releases she only figured vocally on Alice Cooper’s “Zipper Catches Skin” album [“vocals and sarcasm”] and on the solo album [very difficult to get] of Shriekback’s Carl Marsh. She died way too soon in 1996 from lung cancer and I miss her. At least now I have some more of her in my Record Cell.