Listening now to their debut single, Tell Me Your Plans, it’s hard to see (or hear) how The Shirts were ever considered a punk band. Yet they were staples at CBGBs in that golden era of the mid-Seventies that spawned The Ramones, Television, Talking Heads and Blondie.
The owner, Hilly Kristel, originally hired them to support those bands, but in time they became headliners in their own right. Perhaps he wanted someone in reserve in case Blondie ever pulled out of a gig.
Because if The Shirts are anything it’s a poor man’s Blondie. But without the tunes, or the compelling fusion of garage punk and girl group pop. Or – crucially – Debbie Harry.
Annie Golden might have chewed gum for America, and worked hard on her sullen stare at the camera, but she was no Debbie. What she actually was is an actress.
The Shirts first appeared on record on the Live At CBGBs compilation and went on to be signed to EMI subsidiary Harvest by the man who signed The Sex Pistols, Nick Mobbs.
When she recorded their debut album with Pistols producer Mike Thorne, the singer had to fly back and forth from recording sessions in London to America, where she was simultaneously filming the movie Hair with Milos Forman.
She had high-profile recurring roles in Cheers and Miami Vice and, more recently, Orange Is The New Black. Seeing her in the celebrated scene where ‘Norma’ sings, we find she’s one of those lucky people who looks pretty much exactly the same in her seventies as she did back then in her twenties.