Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1975-78)

- Theo Coumans -- drums, percussion

- Betty Dragstra (aka Betty Kowalczyk)-- vocals

- Marianne Hensen (aka Marianna Kowalczyk) -- vocals

- John Theunissen -- guitar

- Theo Wetzels -- bass

- Loulou WIlle -- keyboards

- Tonny Wille (aka Antonia Johanna Cornelia Kowalczyk) -- vocals


  line up 2 (1978-82)

- Theo Coumans -- drums, percussion

- Betty Dragstra (aka Betty Kowalczyk) -- vocals

- Marianne Hensen (aka Marianna Kowalczyk) -- vocals

NEW - Hans Lutjens -- drums (replaced Theo Coumans)

- John Theunissen -- guitar

- Theo Wetzels -- bass

- Loulou WIlle -- keyboards

- Tonny Wille (aka Antonia Johanna Cornelia Kowalczyk) -- vocals


  line up 3 (1982-84)

- Betty Dragstra (aka Betty Kowalczyk) -- vocals

- Marianne Hensen (aka Marianna Kowalczyk) -- vocals

- Loulou WIlle -- keyboards

- Tonny Wille (aka Antonia Johanna Cornelia Kowalczyk) -- vocals





The BG's (Betty Dragstra, Marianne Hensen, and Tonny Corenlia)

- Sally Lane (aka Tonny Wille)

- Scum (Theo Coumans, John Theunissen, and Theo Wetzels)

- Ricky Rendall and His Centurions (Loulou Wille)

- Sweet Reaction

- Zingende Zusjes (aka The Singing Sisters)





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title: First of All

Company: EMI

Catalog: C 062 25-419

Country/State: Brunssum, Holland

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 787

Price: $15.00


I can remember living in Belgium in 1976 when I came across the band Pussycat - actually I can remember seeing a hysterical promotional video for lead singer Tonny Wille and company on a local television program    There was something fascinating about lead singer Tonny Wille - the woman had a ton of hair and with a gigantic gap between her front teeth, was quite sexy in a goofy, hard to describe fashion.   The same was true for the rest of the band which reflected a yeah-we're-closet-nerds-but-are-trying-to-look-cool allure that seemed right in tune with my 16 year old outlook on life.



Sisters Betty, Marianne, and Tonny (she later shortened it to the more conventional 'Toni')  Kowalczyk started out playing music as children, including a stint under the clever name - Zingende Zusjes (aka The Singing Sisters)  By the time they were in their 20s, they'd been a number of groups, including The BGs.   In 1973 they hooked up with former Ricky Rendall and His Centurions keyboard player Loulou Wille to form the group Sweet Reaction.  Within a year the line-up included  drummer Theo Coumans, guitarist John Theunissen, and bassist Theo Wetzels (all formerly members of the band Scum).   Renaming themselves Pussycat, the were signed by EMI/Electrola, enjoying a massive European hit with their debut single:


- 1975's 'Mississippi' b/w 'Do It' (Apple catalog number 4C 006-25312)   


Written by Werner Theunissen who had previously been the sisters' guitar instructor, 'Mississippi' encapsulated the group's somewhat strange country-pop sound.  Kicked along by Tonny's pleasant, heavily accented English vocals, the results were easy-going, radio friendly, and thoroughly non-threatening.  This was music that grandmother could sing along with and enjoy.  


Buoyed by the single's international success (ironically, in an era of punk aggression it topped the UK charts and apparently sold some five million copies worldwide), EMI quickly financed a Pussycat LP.   Produced by Eddy Hilberts, 1976's "First of All" made it clear Tonny was the band's focus.   In case you couldn't figure it out from the cover photo, she served as the group's front-person and handled most of the lead vocals (husband Loulou managed to croak his way through the country number 'What Did They Do To the People' and the forgettable '50s-tinged rocker 'Delaney').  While Tonny had a great voice (she's always reminded me a bit of the late Mariska Veres (of Shocking Blue fame), as non-writers, she and the rest of the band were wholly dependent on producer Hilberts and outside material.   Absent any original songs, former guitar instructor Werner Theunissen furnished the bulk of the tunes. As a result these twelve tunes were pretty harmless mid-'70s pop with the band adding occasional country, dance, Latin, soul, and other flourishes to the mix.   Other than Wille's instantly recognizable voice, the band simply didn't have much of an original identity and the results occasionally came very close to schlager music.


"First of All" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Georgie    (Werner Theunissen) - 2:27

Shameless saccharine top-40 pop that should appeal to folks who love ABBA.   And to be honest, I have a soft spot for this kind of stuff.  Tonny seldom sounded as good with the rest of the band humming along in fine fashion.  The track was also released as a single.   YouTube has a great television performance clip:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv05fLzV4-Y   rating: **** stars

2.) Pasadena    (Werner Theunissen) - 3:57

Kicked along by some punchy horns, Loulou WIlle's pounding keyboards and some John Theunissen fuzz guitar  'Pasadena' found the group trying to toughen up there sound (I'm using the term in a broad, generic fashion).   The result was actually one of their better performances with a great top-40 melody; upbeat vocals; and a harmless sense of fun .... I've always wondered if these guys and gals had a clue where Pasadena was located.   rating: **** stars

3.) Boulevard de la Madeline   (Mike Pinder - Denny Laine) - 2:55

An old Moody Blues tune, their cover of 'Boulevard de la Madeline' wasn't particularly impressive.   Drummer Coumans at least got a little spotlight time with his martial fills.  rating: *** stars

4.) What Did They Do To the People    (Werner Theunissen) - 3:03

Dutch country with Loulou Wille on lead vocals (?) and way too much pedal steel guitar...   pretty dreadful by any stretch of the imagination.   rating: ** stars

5.) Mexicali Lane    (Werner Theunissen) - 3:10

I've never figured it out, but in additional to American country music, European pop bands seem to have a strange fascination with Mexican themes.   'Mexicali Lane' was Pussycats contribution to this weird sub-genre.   Even stranger, other than the title, the song didn't really exhibit any type of Latin feel.  rating: *** stars

6.) Take Me    (Werner Theunissen) - 2:40

Another tune penned by guitar instructor Werner Theunissen, 'Take Me' abandoned the group's patented country-pop sound for a more adult contemporary and mildly disco-ish feel.   Complete with Spanish flavored acoustic guitar flourishes and a catchy chorus, I'll readily admit this was one of the album's stand out performances.   rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) Mississippi   (
Werner Theunissen) - 4:32

I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but 'Mississippi' really was one of those guilty pleasures.   The melody was thoroughly irritating and the country-pop touches amazingly hokey, but there was something charming about the overall performance.   The song was one of those tunes that just climbed into your head and wouldn't leave.    40 years after I first heard it, I can still hum the dam thing.   As mentioned above, the group filmed a hysterical promotional clip for the song - kind of a Dutch vision of the American West.  Seeing Tonny packing heat was enough to make anyone smile.   You can see the clip on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfY0yJyTjjE  rating: **** stars

2.) Delaney     (Werner Theunissen) - 3:18

'50s-tinged rocker with Loulou Wille on lead vocals.   I'm guessing Delaney was some sort of club ...   mindless and derivative.   rating: ** stars

3.) Do It    (Werner Theunissen) - 2:17

Complete with bleating horns, James Bond-styled orchestration, and faux-soul flavor, perhaps unintentionally, 'Do It' had some of the funniest lyrics you'll ever hear.   rating: *** stars

4.) Help Me Living On    (Werner Theunissen) - 3:49

'Help Me Living On' found the group returning to their trademarked country-pop sound - strumming guitar, heavy orchestration, and mildly commercial melody.   rating: *** stars

5.) Just a Woman    (Werner Theunissen) -3:40

Complete with empowerment lyrics, gurgling synthesizers, and a nice Theunissen guitar solo, 'Just a Woman' found the group seeming trying to come up with a mash-up of country and dance moves.   So weird it was actually a blast to hear.  rating: *** stars

6.) Bad Boy    (Werner Theunissen) - 3:41

My choice for the album's worst number, 'Bad Boy' was a sickly sweet ballad that sounded like it was intended as a chewing gum soundtrack.  The spoken word segment was simply nauseating.   rating: * star


As mentioned, the album spun off a follow-up single:


- 1976's 'Georgie' b/w 'Take Me' (EMI/Electrola catalog number 4C 006-25361)



One Pussycat LP is probably all most folks need in their collections, though I'm aware of at least five more studio collections and scores of compilations.    Since this has two of the biggest hits, its probably the one for most folks to locate.


Tonny went on to an extensive solo career and has a web presence at: