Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: Can't Stop the Madness
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Country/State: Glendale, California
Comments: ring wear; writing on cover; white label promo cover
Catalog ID: 5881
Produced by Christopher Houston, Birtha's 1973 follow up "Can't Stop the Madness" was actually better than their debut. Perhaps because they were feeling more comfortable in the studio, or simply didn't care what people thought, this time out the emphasis wasn't as singularly focused on out-rocking the male competition. That gave the band space and a willingness to try a more diversified attack with several songs reflecting a much more open and commercial feel. Mind you tracks like 'Freedom', 'My Pants Are Too Short' and 'Rock Me' underscored their ability to handle a hard rock tune with ease, but those rockers were balanced out by the pop-flavored 'Let Us Sing'. Of course being blessed with three talented writers in Rosemary Butler, Olivia Favela and Shele Pinizzotto certainly didn't hurt the proceedings, nor did the fact all three were good vocalists. Drummer Favela in particular distinguished herself in the vocal department. The first time out she seemed to confuse Joplin-styled shrieking with power. This time out her performances were much more deft - check out the 'All This Love' or '(When Will Ya) Understand'.
- 'Freedom' opened the album with a rocker than had a distinctive gospel-ish edge. Imagine something Delaney and Bonnie might have recorded. Nice melody, great vocal and tasteful lead guitar from Pinizzotto, and classic harmony vocals. rating: **** stars
- 'My Man Told Me' was simply a fun rocker. For her part, Favela showed a surprisingly deft touch on vocals - the song rocked, but without the shrillness that she brought to much of the debut album. Great tune and one of the album highlights. Easy to imagine The Bangles covering it. rating: **** stars
- One of the prettiest songs in their repertoire (and a highlight for Favela), the ballad 'Don't Let It Get You Down' had an instantly hum able melody, a simply killer bass line from Butler, and some angelic harmony vocals. This one would have made a nice single. rating: *** stars
- With Butler and Pinizzotto sharing lead vocals, Sun' started out as a take-no-prisoners rocker before opening into an appealing acapella segment and the cutting lose with one of Pinizzotto's best solos. rating: *** stars
- Very different than anything they'd done before, the acoustic ballad 'Let Us Sing' served to showcase their harmony vocals. Pretty and highly commercial, this one probably drove their hard rock fans insane. rating: *** stars
- Side two started out with a slinky rocker in the form of 'Rock Me' (even though the liner notes showed the lead of song as being '(When Will Ya) Understand'. The track saw Butler turn in her best vocal, while Pinizzotto responded with a killer solo. rating: *** stars
- 'All This Love' was the kind of commercial tune they never would have dared record on the debut. Kicked along by Hagler's keyboards it rocked, but had a radio friendly vibe, including a super catchy chorus. rating: *** stars
- My pick for standout performance, '(When Will Ya) Understand' had it all - a dark, and ominous melody, fantastic lead vocal from Favela, and those amazing group harmonies - The Bangles should bow in recognition and gratitude to Birtha. rating: ***** stars
- 'My Pants Are Too Short' was the one track where Favela fell back on her old habits, shrieking her way through the song. The funny thing is that this one had such a strong swamp rock rhythm you really didn't notice her vocal that much. rating: *** stars
- A mid-tempo ballad that could have given the Wilson sisters a run for their money, the title track opened up with one of Pinizzotto's most melodic solos. Very atmospheric (okay I'd suggest the orgasmic panting wasn't necessary) and commercial, this one would have sounded great on FM radio. rating: **** stars
In the UK the album was tapped for a single:
- 1973's 'My Man Told Me' b/w '???' (Probe PRO 598)
One of those albums that's grown on me every time I've played it. Sadly they're largely forgotten in this day and age, but they really were ground breakers. Shame they didn't come to the market five years later.
Naturally, in terms of demographics and public taste the album was about five years ahead of itself, and like the debut failed to set the charts ablaze.
"Can't Stop the Madness" track listing:
1.) Freedom (Olivia Favela - Shele Pinizzotto) - 3:07
2.) My Man Told Me (Rosemary Butler - Olivia Favela - Gabriel Mekler - Shelee Pinizzotto) - 3:19
3.) Don't Let It Get You Down (Rosemary Butler)- 6:03
4.) Sun (Olivia Favela - Shele Pinizzotto) - 3:20
5.) Let Us Sing (Rosemary Butler - Dumont - Shele Pinizzotto - Shinohofen) - 4:46
1.) Rock Me (Rosemary Butler - Mark Wickham) - 3:36
2.) All This Love (G. Belisle - D. Garlend) - 3:30
3.) (When Will Ya) Understand (Rosemary Butler - Mark Wickham) - 4:53
4.) My Pants Are Too Short (Olivia Favela - Shele Pinizzotto) - 3:29
5.) Can't Stop the Madness (Rosemary Butler - Shele Pinizzotto) - 5:22
Later in the year the band managed to release a cover of Steely Dan's 'Dirty Work' as a non-LP single before falling apart in 1975:
When the single tanked Dunhill dropped Birtha from its recording roster. Over the next two years the band toured extensively opening for a never ending stream of first tier bands, but by 1975 they'd run out of energy and called it quits.
Butler reappeared as an in-demand studio singer and has a web presence at:
In 1997 the See for Miles label reissued the two albums in twofer CD format 9catalog number SEECD 474).