Holly Beth Vincent found herself in L.A. in the late 1970s. After a few years of drumming, playing guitar, and singing in a variety of now-forgotten groups, she was ready to put together her own band. Holly & The Italians began playing the L.A. club circuit in 1978, and by 1980 had their first single on record store shelves.
That first recording, "Tell That Girl to Shut Up," immediately defined Holly's snarl-lipped tough-girl persona and remains her most well-known song. A full album, The Right To Be Italian, followed in 1981 and remains an impressive slab of vinyl. Coming across like Blondie's brunette counterparts from the other coast, the band churns through the album's tracks with gusto, but never loses their sense of strong melody or pop hooks.
The following year, the band split up and Holly released a solo record, confusingly titled Holly & The Italians. She was beginning to explore new territory musically; her cover of The Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" is simply stunning and is worth the price of admission alone. Shortly thereafter she recorded a duet with Joey Ramone, covering Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe"...and then she disappeared.
The forever enigmatic Vincent resurfaced in 1994 with a new band, The Oblivious, again releasing one album and disbanding. A year later she teamed up with Concrete Blonde's lead singer, Johnette Napolitano, to form Vowel Movement. Guess how many albums they released before fading to obscurity? A nifty two-disc set of demo recordings from the Holly & The Italians days (both the band and the album) appeared a few years back, and a new solo work, Super Rocket Star, in 2007.
With the variety of styles she's tried and the limited catalog of releases she's been involved with, it's difficult to suggest to a new listener where to start - other than to say, start at the beginning! So, this week's New Wave for the New Week is that first single, the excellent "Tell That Girl To Shut Up." Sadly, no video exists for the song, so, as a bonus, I'm also including a clip of Holly & The Italians performing two songs, "Youth Coup" and "Rock Against Romance," from The Old Grey Whistle Test. Enjoy!