"The bratty nature of some of the music gives it a real edge; there are no cock-heavy, male hang-ups present at all. I couldn't imagine a contemporary male group making a good fist of Bow Wow Wow's C30 C60 C90 Anda! for example, (or rather, I could imagine an extremely surly, humourless and self-pitying version). "
Girlz – Women ahead of their time
What a cracking disc!
Girlz is a truly marvelous compilation. Fun, inventive, over-flowing with purpose wit and colour; this is a simply must-have CD. I am well aware that my over-effusive ramblings could be dismissed as another instance of "pop-scribe champions yet another obscure artist compilation" syndrome here, but what the hell. I'll counter that by saying that this CD is in mortal danger of being unfairly dismissed as a cynical cash-in on a desire (by an already recumbent and over-stimulated music-buying audience) to run down pop history's more elusive white harts. For once, the thrill is in the capture not the chase, so I will allow myself a show of unfettered enthusiasm here.
Girlz is the story of a – for want of a better description – feminine pop scene, based resolutely underground, that sprang up in the late 1970s. Taking its musical succour from seemingly anything, from punk's energy, early rap, traditional African rhythms, jazz and reggae to name but a few sources – the music created by girl bands such as Rip Pig Panic, Slits and Bow Wow Wow sounds in retrospect daring and artistic, broad-minded, indeed so much fun; especially when compared to their laddish contemporaries. The CD reflects both the inherent excitement within and eclectic nature of this canon, right from the opening track; Maximum Joy's Stretch – past Dorothy's hippy dippy whispering on Softness right through to the Dietrich-isms of Nicolene Meyer. Indeed, I defy anyone to scowl or whinge or show the remotest trace of apathy through JaJaJa's Katz Rap. How can you? It's just so exciting, funny and inventive. Delta 5's Mind Your Own Business is a classic girlie "fuck off" anthem (seemingly aimed at other girls) which has been enthusiastically appropriated by my girlfriend whenever she's in the mood to throw a strop. The bratty nature of some of the music gives it a real edge; there are no cock-heavy, male hang-ups present at all. I couldn't imagine a contemporary male group making a good fist of Bow Wow Wow's C30 C60 C90 Anda! for example, (or rather, I could imagine an extremely surly, humourless and self-pitying version). Nor could I imagine anyone other than an artist of the calibre of (say) Captain Beefheart or Can pulling off a credible take of Ludus's Broken Rules ( a falsetto, harpy-ridden screech-athon, if you are wondering what it sounds like). As I said before, this is extremely imaginative, risk-taking, forward-thinking music.
Most of the bands lasted 2 or 3 years before imploding, testament to how hard and how thoroughly they worked on their respective visions I suppose. Some people, most notably Neneh Cherry and Ari Up became stars. Most didn't. But that's really not the point here. If playing this CD doesn't at the very least give you a rush of excitement; well, I would have to wonder at why you are listening to pop music in the first place. In fact, I really wouldn't want to know you. This is my record of the month. Buy it, oppressed male motherfuckers.
Words: Richard Foster.
Girlz – Women ahead of their time is on Crippled Dick Hotwax,