The Pandoras circa 1985. Left to right, Kim Shattuck, Karen Blankfield, Paula Pierce
and Melanie Vammen. This was the lineup that recorded "Stop Pretending," released
on Rhino (and now available on CD as a limited release).
Photograph by Dianne Carter

If you like The Donnas, you need to check out this band, which predated them by almost 20 years. Likewise if you like garage rock bands like the Standells.

Like the band
Love, I discovered the Pandoras only recently, in early 2006. I was checking out the iTunes Essentials Garage Rock collection, which is broken down into three sections: Classic Garage, 2nd Generation, and Garage Now. The song "It's About Time" was included in the 2nd Generation set. I listened to the 30-second sample, then laid down my 99 cents to buy the whole song. I listened to it over and over and over (people who have known me over the years have been forced to endure this every time I have a new favorite song - I don't seem to have progressed much in this regard since I was 12). Had I not known otherwise, I would have thought the song was right out of the mid-1960s. I knew I had to get more from this band. And I also decided to make my own meager effort, via this website, at telling people about the Pandoras.

This is yet another story of a band done wrong by a major label. It's also a reminder that we don't know how long we're going to be around on this earth -- Paula Pierce, the Pandoras' lead singer/songwriter, was a fitness fan and seemingly in great physical condition, yet died at age 31 of a brain aneurism (no drugs or alcohol involved). This is also a warning to young bands out there: Don't place much reliance on -- much less sacrifice your principles for -- that deal with a big record company. You may create your best music only to see it shelved forever. After the band got its big record deal with Elektra, they spent two years recording their record, but then Electra pulled the plug on it less than a month before its scheduled release date.

The Pandoras Discography
In addition to the releases listed below, a lot of the Pandoras' music can be purchased from iTunes.

The Pandoras (1984)

The Pandoras first record was a 7-inch 4-song EP on the Moxie label, catalogue number 1044. The songs were "That's Your Way Out," "Why," "I'm Here I'm Gone," and "It's About Time." This record regularly appears on eBay, if you're the collecting-type, but the songs are also included on "It's About Time" (I don't know if they're the same mixes or versions, though). At this point, the band consisted of Paula Pierce (guitar, vocals), Gwynne Kahn (keyboards, vocals), Debbie Mendy (bass), Casey Gomez (drums).

It's About Time (1984)

Their first album, "It's About Time," was released in 1984, on Voxx Records. The band for this recording was Paula Pierce (guitar, vocals), Gwynne Kahn (keyboards, vocals), Bambi Lee Conway (bass), Casey Gomez (drums). The best song by far is "It's About Time" which, if you didn't know otherwise, would swear was something from circa 1966. Other good songs are "You Lie," "I Live My Life," and "That's Your Way Out." PURCHASE

Hot Generation/You Can't Satisfy (1984)

This is a 45 from the sessions that were to be their second album on the Voxx label. These two songs also are included on the CD release of "It's About Time." Yet another line up for this release: Paula Pierce (guitar, vocals), Julie Patchouli (bass), Melanie Vammen (keyboards), Karen Blankfeld (drums).

Stop Pretending (1985)

Regarded by many as their best album. Still another lineup: Paula Pierce (guitar, vocals), Kim Shattuck (bass), Melanie Vammen (keyboards), Karen Blankfeld (drums). There still may be limited quantities of the re-release of the CD on Rhino Records, otherwise you can pick it up on eBay or download the songs on iTunes. "Stop Pretending" is by far the best song, but other standout songs are "In and Out of My Life in a Day," "I Didn't Cry," and "You Don't Satisfy." PURCHASE

Psychedelic Sluts! (recorded 1986-1987)
An "unofficial" release, i.e., a bootleg, this is the best approximation available of what the unreleased Electra album "Come Inside" might have been. I picked this up on eBay for $20, and am very happy I made the purchase. It has some good songs that should have seen the light of day. Hopefully some industrious employee of Electra will push the label to release this, or copy all the tapes and post them on the web.

Rock Hard (1988)

An EP of mainly hard rock songs (hence the title). Although widely derided, this record is at least as good as any of the boy hair bands that got heavy rotation on MTV in the late 80s (e.g. Poison, Slaughter). I can't help but think the lack of promotion, like Electra's decision to shelve their album, was a gender issue. The lineup on this release was Paula Pierce (lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitars), Rita D'Albert (rhythm guitars, backing vocals), Melanie Vammen (keyboards, backing vocals), Kim Shattuck (bass, backing vocals), Sheri Kaplan (drums, backing vocals).

Live Nymphomania (1989)


Their last record, a live album, again hard rock. Supposedly a different recording had originally been planned for the live record, from a concert in Tijuana, but this recording was used instead after the departure of the band's second guitarist. If anyone has a copy of the Tijuana recording, I'd love to hear it.

Currently, you can buy these last two releases by the Pandoras as a single CD. PURCHASE

Links for the Pandoras

The Pandoras Source. A site maintained by Julie Patchouli, the Pandoras' bass player on Hot Generation. The best Pandoras site on the web.

Bambi Conway's website, The Pandoras' first bass player, who played on the album It's About Time and the band's first single. It includes her story on the bifurcated Pandoras, and info. on her later bands.

Action Now. Paula Pierce's band before the Pandoras.

A Russian site. Includes photos and info on the band (in Russian, of course), as well as pictures of the 60's group of the same name.

A MySpace page for the Pandoras, also maintained by Julie Patchouli.

email me if you're aware of any other Pandoras-related sites or if you have any content that you think should be added.