I always thought the Go-GO's were pretty good for their time
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Most of the most famous and best women performers have tended to be solo artists,of course bands,musicians etc. have played a large part but they don't make your criteria-Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega,Joni Mitchell etc..
So the best is easily for me....
The Patti Smith Group
and more recently
Both awesome live,both can rock and write songs on a level miles better than anybody mentioned so far...........
Ross & Derrick, you guys crack me up !!!! : )
My first thoughts were Chrissie & the Pretenders. As to being a "female rock group", you could change the entire cast of male members and nobody would notice. So long as Chrissie was still there, it's still the Pretenders.
The other "rock chick" that came to mind was Patti Smith of "Easter" fame. Anyone that was immortalized as she was in the Saturday Night Live skit that they did about her ( aka Candy Slice ) deserves to be mentioned in this thread. Gilda nailed her to a "T" : ) Sean
I'd like to throw Ani DiFranco into the mix. She's an angry lesbian singer/songwriter that rocks and can play the hell out of a guitar. Equally, there's Aimee Mann, also a kick-ass singer/songwriter (from the 80's band 'Til Tuesday). Her music was the inspiration for the film "Magnolia", according to the director. Oh, Glen, the lead singer from 4 Non Blondes (Linda Perry?) is now a successful songwriter (most recently a song for pop/r&b artist Pink - "I'm Coming Up").
Have to admit, got a friend who's also a freak for women singing (who I don't see but once every few years these days, the bum moved to Chile) but for near on ten years going, one of the first things we clear up whenever we talk is whether we've heard anything better than Tanya Donnelly screaching like a cat on track 9 ("Not too Soon") from Throwing Muses's Hunkapappa. Pretty ho-hum recording, but still at the top of my list.
If you're looking for a purely angelic voice with some hard-edged instrumentation, gotta check out Heather Nova (the first album, Oyster, and some of the live ones, her second isn't all that special). I'm on board for ALL of the above, but also have to throw in Tori Amos (especially her earlier stuff). Shoot, there are more, but they escape me at the moment. 2a.m., July 4, still at work, no wonder I can't think....