|Label||Faulty Products (1982)|
I.R.S. Records (1983)
Illegal Records (1987 French reissue)
|The Bangles chronology|
|Singles from Bangles|
Bangles is the eponymous first EP by The Bangles. It was released in 1982 by Faulty Products and reissued in 1983 by I.R.S. Records when Faulty Products went out of business. The songs remained widely unavailable thereafter, with only occasional rereleases of individual songs. The whole five-song EP was eventually reissued as part of the Bangles' 2014 compilation, Ladies and Gentlemen... The Bangles!.
This would be the group's only release to feature original bassist Annette Zilinskas, who left in early 1983 and was replaced by Michael Steele, and did not record with them again until the 2018 multigroup album 3 x 4.
The Bangles began in Los Angeles as a garage rock band, popularly associated with similar bands from the area in the Paisley Underground music scene. After self-releasing a well-received debut single, "Getting out of Hand" (1981), the group was signed by music industry executive Miles Copeland to his new record label Faulty Products, an independent U.S.-based subsidiary of I.R.S. Records. The band quickly recorded a five-song mini-album which was released in June 1982.
The band's full musical credits are listed on the EP's back cover:
Vocals are credited to Vicki and Debbie Peterson and Susanna Hoffs on every track. Vicki Peterson sings the lead vocal on "Want You" and "How Is the Air Up There?" while Debbie Peterson sings "I'm In Line"; Susanna Hoffs sings "The Real World", and she and Vicki Peterson share the lead on "Mary Street". Annette Zilinskas provides vocals only once, as one of the backing harmonists on "Want You".
Music industry veteran Craig Leon served as the record producer. Leon was already well known in rock and indie circles for his production work with the Ramones and Blondie. Leon also played piano on "Mary Street" and "The Real World", and the latter song includes additional piano work by Ethan James. The album cover art was designed by Ewa Wojciak with photography by Bob Seideman.
The Bangles' early years were informed by a 1960s garage rock sensibility, and the 1982 EP maintains a stylistic link between the "Getting out of Hand" debut single and the band's first full-length album, the critically acclaimed All Over the Place (1984). Music critics often note the irony of their subsequent rise from guitar-based rock devotees to "one of the most successful chart groups of the '80s with their slickly produced synth pop". In his book Music: What Happened?, Scott Miller names "The Real World" as one of the top songs of the 1980s, and remarks of the EP: "Those who know only 'Eternal Flame' might be amazed at how inventive and together they were in their relative infancy". The Bangles themselves consider the early material, lesser-known though it was, to be vital to their own story: as Susanna Hoffs told Billboard in 2014, "I think it's as representative of who we really are and as authentic as anything the Bangles have ever done. There's a kind of architecture to those songs - three-part harmonies, guitar-driven, jangly over a kind of garage rock rhythm is who we are now, still, as much as we were back then."
The original EP was released on vinyl in 1982 by Faulty Products (catalog #FEP 1302). The label folded at the end of the year, and Copeland's major label, I.R.S. Records, rereleased it again in 1983 (catalog #SP-70506).
The full five-song set, however, remained out of print since its initial vinyl release until 2014, when it was included on the album Ladies and Gentlemen... The Bangles!. Featuring numerous early Bangles rarities, this compilation also includes a previously unreleased demo version of "The Real World", shorter and sung in a different key.