The Cake - More Of The Cake Please (2007)
The Cake were three teenage New York girls who started singing together in 1966 and ceased to do so two years later. After two LPs for Decca and a helter-skelter rise and fall in the music biz, Jeanette Jacobs, Barbara Morillo and Eleanor Barooshian are now finally having their work reissued for the first time. Seen singing along to records in a New York night club, they were quickly signed by hot shot management duo Charles Greene and Brian Stone (Sonny & Cher, Buffalo Springfield, Iron Butterfly). You can read the whole story in the very lengthy and fascinatingly detailed booklet by Chris Campion that also features some great period publicity stills taken outside the derelict Pandora's Box on Sunset Strip. Anyone who has ever heard either of their two Decca LPs, 1967's The Cake and 1968's A Slice of Cake will have been baffled by the stylistic collision of early 60s r'n'b / r'n'r covers that seem horribly dated by the standards of the altogether more compelling later 60s and the (sometimes) a cappella harmony stylings of the group's original compositions. This, it turns out none too surprisingly, was a result of management's attempt to present the group as a new white version of the Ronettes (but the wrong end of the decade surely?).
Hence on The Cake, opener (and debut 45) 'Baby That's Me' works well as a take on that particular idiom, the bulk of the album though is full of covers such as 'Ohh Poo Pah Doo', 'Stand By Me', 'What'd I Say', 'Mockingbird' etc. The girls were not impressed by this and argued to get their own songs included. The album is saved by a trio of these in the form of 'Medieval Love', 'Fire Fly' and 'Rainbow Wood'. If only they'd been allowed to make a whole album like this. They feature great harmonies, unusual melodies, almost spooky in places and for the time are very original. They fared better on the second LP A Slice of Cake which included far more of their own material, although by this time, the group had ceased to exist and management had simply shipped in new girls using the original band name to record some of the original groups own material! Hence a few of the songs only feature Jeanette Jacobs lead vocal with a less impressive harmonic vocal backing blend. Nonetheless, other than the makeweight of the protruding sore thumb that is the r'n'b medly of 'Walkin' The Dog' / 'Something's Got a Hold On Me'/ 'Big Boy Pete', salvaged from the sessions of the first album, A Slice of Cake is a work of art. 'Have You Heard The News 'Bout Miss Molly' and the interestingly titled 'P.T. 280' (explained in the liners) was circulated to DJs as an intended 45 from the album and as a whole the LP is largely comprised of excellent group originals.
So, should you buy it? Yes, you should. Not only is the story well told in the booklet, but it also gives an aural context to the otherwise inexplicable stylistic blend of music on the disc. OK, the first half is full of r'n'b standards, but as part of the girl group lexicon, it fits. Also it is a document of a struggle for self expression and the need to be taken seriously in an age when girl musicians seldom ever were. I had both LPs on a cdr for some years and recompiled all the original material from both albums on one disc and it sounded great. You need to discover this group and appreciate what their potential was and to the extent to which they managed to realise it on wax. This legacy is musically important and you need to be aware if it.