The Return of Pansy Smith and Violet Jones
The Utne Reader: “The find of the year and perhaps beyond…an album that is magical.”
Minnesota Public Radio: “…intricate vocal harmonies, and lyrics with a strong flavor of Edgar Allen Poe…”
Dirty Linen: “…a pleasing album that concentrates on the excellent vocals of Emma Bull and the energetic fiddling of Lorraine Garland…”
Relix: “Highly recommended to anyone with an inkling of interest in music of the British Isles.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune: “The pure, sweet and simple vocals, lovely odes, vivid tales, and a fair share of traditional takes are more than enough to satiate any fan of the Waterboys or Chieftains.”
City Pages: “The weird charms of the Flash Girls’ modern-traditional songwriting and vocal harmonies are growing on me with each listen to their CD.”
Folk Roots: “It’s acoustic, bold and like all things a touch wicked, delicious.”
St. Paul Pioneer Press: “Awash in strains of traditional Celtic, Hungarian and Norwegian guitar/fiddle/mandolin arrangements, and the tortured-to- beatific vocals (but never overwrought, unlike so many modern minstrel wannabes) of Bull and Garland…(an) exquisite CD.”
Maurice and I
Rambles: “…everything folk-rock should be: lively and fresh, bold innovations built atop thick veins of tradition. The songwriting is clever, the musicianship is tight and the scattering of familiar tunes are arranged in distinctive, original sets. The vocals are the strongest piece of the album — their’s is an odd mix of voices which grow on the listener a little more each time the music is played. There is no good reason not to own this album.”
City Pages: “The Flash Girls have created a wide-open creative space for all manner of quality material, be it humorous, haunting, or homey. The musical variety and lyrical veracity makes Maurice and I endlessly interesting.”
Mostly Folk: “talented and innovative…for enthusiasts of unusual and innovative acoustic and Celtic music.”
Amazon.com’s Editorial Reviews: “Haunting, humorous, irreverent, and infectious.”
Dirty Linen: “…fine originals by Bull…excellent instrumentals by Lorraine…this is not an album for those who hold folk to be a sacred, unlaughable matter… a delightful album.”
Play Each Morning Wild Queen
Green Man Review: “…unique, fascinating, esoteric, and just plain fun.”
“Bite on Hollywood” in NoHo LA: “…filled with sensational Gothic, Celtic folk music, with famed artist Neil Gaiman (Sandman) writing some of the songs. One of the highlights is “Lily of the West.”
“CD Picks” in NoHo LA: “The Flash Girls kick off this CD with some vigorous Mediterranean fiddling, making an abrupt leap into Celtic folk close-harmony singing. Congas, mandolin, acoustics, spoons, tin whistle, accordion, washboard, whew!…where is the kitchen sink? Sandwiched in is “A Meaningful Dialogue,” a sugar-frosted 50s pop/folk ditty. Notes on the inner sleeve allude to Hawaiian ghosts as an enigmatic source of inspiration for this collection of flutteringly melodic songs. “All Purpose Folk Song (Child’s Ballad #1)” is delivered a cappella in a deadpan manner covering such black humor subjects as dead wives in the larder and the like. Lorraine Garland & Emma Bull have set about braiding their lovely voices together to whisk you along tapping & whirling amidst the ether. Stay tuned after “Nottingham Ale” for a lurking bonus track. Oops! I’ve spilled the barley!”
Rambles: “Diversity is the watchword when dealing with these formidable ladies…Cunning musicianship sets traditional roots on end for a unique package sure to find a home in the hearts of fey folkies everywhere.”
I noticed it in the Pratie Heads’ cover of the traditional tune, “Knickerbocker Line,” and thought I might use it in a book. But when Emma and Lorraine were talking about possible band names in an Irish bar in St. Paul, I heard the phrase again: Martz and Menton were singing another traditional song, “House-husband’s Lament (Rocking the Cradle)”, and when they got to the line, “Come all you young men with a notion to marry/Oh, pray, won’t you leave those flash girls alone,” I realized Emma and Lorraine needed the phrase more than I did. And they agreed.
“Flash” is an old bit of British slang. According to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence, it means “knowing” or “ostentatious.” In context, it suggests one knows a little more than is socially appropriate, and one has a tendency to dress and behave in ways that suggest that’s so. In other words, a flash girl is one who is no better than she should be.
“Flash girls” as a phrase is first found in “The Pills of White Mercury,” the pitiful lamentation of a dying man done wrong by some disease-ridden flash girls. The text of this song was taken from Thomas D’Urfey’s Wit and Mirth: or, Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719-20). D’Urfey is also the author of “Blowzabella My Bouncing Doxie” — the origin of the name of the English group, Blowzabella.
The Pills of Mercury
(Recorded on ‘Half Ower, Half Ower tae Aberdour’ by Jack Beck. The Tradition Bearers – Scots Songs and Ballads Series LTCD1006)
As I was a walking by the banks of the Ugie,
listen, dear friends, what I have to relate,
who should I spy there but one of my comrades,
wrapped up in white linen, and hard was his fate.
O the mercury was beating and the limestone was reeking,
his tongue all in flames hanging over his chin,
a hole in his bosom, his teeth were a closing,
bad luck to the girlie that ga’ed him the glim
chorus: And had she but told me when she disordered me,
had she but told me of it in time,
I might have been cured by the pills of white mercury,
but now I am a young man cut down in his prime
Down at the street corner, those flash girls were talking,
and one to the other these words she did say,
O there goes that young man who once was so jolly,
but now for his sins his poor body it must pay.
O my parents they warned me, and oft times they chided,
with those young lassies do not sport and play,
but I never heeded and scarce ever listened,
but just carried on in my own wicked way.
O doctor dear doctor, before your departure,
you’ll throw all these bottles of mercury away,
you’ll send for the minister to say a prayer over me,
before that they lower my poor body to the clay.
You’ll get six fine young fellows to carry my coffin,
and six pretty fair maids to bear up my pall,
and you will give each one a bunch of red roses,
so that as they pass by me, they won’t know the smell.