THE DONNAS styled themselves like a female Ramones, but with a scruffier, some would say snottier attitude. Their music, as you might guess if you don’t already know, is on the punk/hard rock side, and this compilation is a good way to see if they’re your kind of thing.
Early Singles 1995-1999 brings together 14 sides they did in their pre-major label life. Strangely, this collection doesn’t include a few of the A-sides (perhaps because those are available on albums), but you do get a lot of rockin’ cuts that you would have missed if you’re not a 7″ collector. I tend to gravitate toward the B-sides anyway because that’s usually where the cool cover versions are. Outstanding in that field are “Wig Wam Bam” (The Sweet), “School’s Out” (Alice Cooper) and “Keep On Loving You” (REO Speedwagon). Sometimes it’s a piss-take on something like the latter that makes that song tolerable; The Donnas’ sarcasm stands out nicely on that one! “Strutter” is their killer version of the great Kiss tune, the B-side of a split single they actually did with those guys – it was part of the soundtrack of the hilarious movie, Detroit Rock City, in which four youths try to make it to Detroit to see their heroes in concert. The Donnas do a nice job with that one, as they do on lots of these cuts. “Da Doo Ron Ron” was an A-side of a single that also featured two Ramones-ily titled tunes, “I Don’t Wanna Go to School” and my favorite, “I Don’t Wanna Rock ’N’ Roll Tonight.”
It’s a short album (30:05) – at times quite lo-fi – but Early Singles 1995-1999 is a snappy lil’ disc that you’ll put on when you feel like rockin’ out with your sock out. Did I just say that? I did, I did. Incidentally, this one’s available on CD and limited edition metallic gold vinyl (for Record Store Day 2023). – Marsh Gooch
3/5 (Real Gone Music RGM-1570, 2023)