The Feminine Complex


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1966-69)

- Mindy Dalton (aka Melinda Lee Dalton) -- vocals, guitar 
- Judy Griffith -- vocals, tambourine
- Lana Napiers -- drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Pame Stephens -- keyboards, backing vocals
- Jean Williams -- bass, backing vocals

 

 

- The Pivots

 


 

Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Livin' Loving

Company: Athena

Catalog: 6001

Year: 1969

Country/State: Nashville, Kentucky

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small bullet hole 

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $100.00

 

First let me mention that some folks have claimed this outfit was a joke - literally an elaborate hoax staged by studio musicians out to fool a gullible audience. Based on what I know, including having talked to folks who actually saw the group perform, I don't subscribe to such a theory. Instead, Nashville's little known The Feminine Complex have to be seen as groundbreakers (albeit some twenty years ahead of popular tastes). As an all girl, self-contained band, simply having had the talent, skills and fortitude to record an album in the late-'60s stands as an amazing accomplishment. The fact the set is as good as it is, makes it all the more impressive.

 

 


front row left to right :Pame Stephens - Jean Williams - Judy Griffiths

back row left to right: Lana Napiers - Mindy Dalton


Attending Nashville's Maplewood High School, in 1966 sophomores Lana Napiers and Jean Williams decided to form their own band. They quickly recruited fellow students/friends Mindy Dalton and Judy Griffith, practicing under the name The Pivots (the name apparently suggested by their basketball coach). Within a couple of months, the quartet had mastered their instruments, as well as cobbling together a set of popular covers. They began playing dances and talent shows, including an early date at one of their school assemblies. Adding friend/keyboard player Pame Stephens to the lineup, the quintet opted for a name change.  As The Feminine Complex, by the following year the group was regularly gaining paying dates (probably not hurt by their attractive looks at penchant for high boots and miniskirts).  By 1968 the band was beginning to attract considerable attention, including appearances on local Nashville television shows (The Noon Show and The Ralph Emery Show). The resulting publicity led to an opening slot for a 1910 Fruitgum Company concert in New York City and appearance on NBC's Showcase '68 television program. They also caught the attention of Dee Kilpatrick and Rick Powell.  Having just formed their own Athena label, they were the first band signed to the new label.

 

 

performing on NBC's Showcase

left to right Pame Stephens - Jean Williams - Judy Griffith - Lana Napiers - Mindy Dalton



Produced by Powell, 1969's "Livin' Love" was a strange effort. Largely penned by Dalton (Williams contributing one of the 11 selections), musically the set offered up a weird mix of raw rockers and surprisingly tame MOR ballads. On one hand, fuzz and feedback propelled rockers such as the leadoff stomper 'Hide and Seek', the feedback paced 'It's',  and 'Time Slips By (When You Are On My Mine)'  were apparently a true reflection of the band's live act. At the other end of the spectrum, backed by studio musicians and elaborated arrangements, 'Now I Need You', 'Are You Lonesome Like Me', and 'I Won't Run' reflected Kilpatrick and Powell's desire to give the band a more polished and commercial sound. With the latter material recalling the Petula Clark school of top-40 success (check out 'Forgetting'), guess which numbers were more impressive ?  In spite of those criticisms, there was no denying these ladies had some real talent.   Dalton had an amazing voice that was both powerful and sexy, while the Lana Napiers and Jean Williams rhythm section was solid throughout.    Shame they didn't get another shot at the recording studio without having to put up with producer Powell's post-production touches.   Bet they were a blast to have seen live ... 

 

Ironically, by the time the record was released, falling victim to parental pressure to complete high school, Napiers, Stephens and Williams had all quit the band.  That probably explains why Dalton and Griffith were the only two band members shown on the back cover.  Within a matter of months the other two had called it quits. 

"Livin' Love" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hide and Seek (Mindy Dalton) - 3:36

'Hide and Seek' was an interesting opener managing to blend lysergic edges with a highly commercial chorus.  Kicked along by Dalton's surprisingly powerful voice, snaky fuzz guitar, and lovely backing vocals, it was an eye opening way to start the album.   rating: **** stars
2.) Now I Need You (Mindy Dalton) - 3:29

Pretty ballad that may have been a bit too MOR-ish for the band's overall image.   That said, there was no denying Dalton had a sexy voice.   Very radio friendly.   rating: *** stars
3.) Are You Lonesome Like Me (Mindy Dalton) - 2:53

Even more loungy than the previous tune, 'Are You Lonesome Like Me' captured the band at their nadir. Complete with Herb Alpert styled horn arrangement, this one sounded like it belonged on a throwaway 'B' flick soundtrack.   Probably one of the album's most forgettable performances.  rating: ** stars
4.) I Won't Run (Mindy Dalton) - 3:18

'I Won't Run' remained commercial, but had an up-tempo melody that underscored their commercial pop potential, which probably explains why it was tapped as their lead-off single.   rating: *** stars
5.) Six O'Clock In the Morning (You're Gone) (Mindy Dalton) - 3:22

Overlooking what must have been a surprisingly risqué lyric for a bunch of young girls in 1969, 'Six O'Clock In the Morning (You're Gone)', was a pretty ballad showcasing a killer Jean Williams bass line.     rating: *** stars
6.) Run That Thru Your Mind (Mindy Dalton) - 2:26

'Run That Thru Your Mind' found the group returning to a harder edge song.  Dalton wrote the tune, but it didn't sound like her voice on the lead vocal - perhaps Judy Griffith ?   Complete with start and stop song structure and some lysergic touches, it was a pretty cool performance, though the horn arrangement was a massive distraction.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)

1.) It's Magic (Mindy Dalton) - 2:34

Opening up with some nifty swirling guitar effects, 'It's Magic' unexpectedly bounced back and forth between growling psych and bouncy Gospel moves ...   sound strange ?    Yeah it was strange and way cool.   My favorite performance on the album.   rating: **** stars
2.) I Don't Want Another Man (Mindy Dalton) - 2:28

Who would have expected them to add blue-eyed soul to their repertoire ?   Quite energetic with the album's best guitar solo, and a distinctive soul edge ...   Once again, the tune would have been better without the horn arrangement.    rating: *** stars
3.) Forgetting (Jean Williams) - 2:12

Penned by bassist Williams, the bouncy, pop-oriented  'Forgetting' sounded completely unlike anything else on the album.  Imagine something Herman's Hermits might have recorded had they been a bunch of Nashville girls.   The song unexpectedly reappeared on the "Girl Unexpected" soundtrack.   
4.) I've Been Workin' On You (Mindy Dalton) - 2:34

Complete with bouncy melody, tasty lead guitar, and James Brown-influenced horn charts, 'I've been Working On You' was easily the album's most radio friendly tune, explaining why it was the lead off single.   rating: **** stars
5.) Time Slips By (When You Are On My Mine) (Mindy Dalton) - 4:01

Opening up with mind-blowing psych effects, 'Time Slips By (When You Are On My Mine) ' quickly morphed into MOR easily listening mode, though Pame Stephens was given a chance to showcase her keyboard chops.  The track returned to lysergic territory with an off, tortured ending.  Strange way to end the album.  rating: *** stars

 

As mentioned, there were three singles on the LP:

 

 

- 1968's 'I've Been Workin' On You' b/w  ' Six O'Clock In the Morning (You're Gone)' (Athena catalog number 5003) 

- 1969's 'I Won't Run' b/w 'Forgetting' (Athena catalog number 5006) 

- 1969's 'Are You Lonesome Like Me' b/w 'Run That Through Your Mind' (Athena catalog number 5008)

 

 

I've never heard it, but in 1997 the small Northern Virginia based Teenbeat label released "To Be In Love: A Collection of Live Performances and Rare Demolition Recordings".  A 21 track compilation of demos and live tracks, the collection actually sounds pretty interesting though I've never been album to track down a copy.  

 

"To Be In Love: A Collection of Live Performances and Rare Demolition Recordings" track listing:

1.) Stepping Stone, (I'm Not Your)
2.) You Can't Do That
3.) Leslie
4.) Without You
5.) Jaguar Jimmy
6.) Now I Care
7.) To Be In Love
8.) Here Comes The Judge
9.) I've Been Workin' On You
10.) Never My Love
11.) Hold On! I'm Comin'
12.)You Keep Me Hangin' On
13.) Come On Up
14.) Forgetting
15.) Spooky
16.) Theme (The Feminine Complex)
17.) Summertime
18.) I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore
19.) Ferry Cross The Mersey
20.) Look In My Eyes
21.) (untitled) - (hidden track)

 

Teenbeat catalog number 236

 

In 2000 the label reissued the collection in CD format along with various demos (Teenbeat catalog # TB-196).

 

 


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