Episode One: British Female Post Punk Icons

Don't create, don't rebel. Have intuition. Don't drive well.

It's been said (by who?, as wikipedia would say - answer: can't remember) that the last three years of the 1970s produced more great music than the average decade. Post punk is central to the Sombrero Fallout agenda, and is the main reason for the fertile seam of that period. But this episode double filters the data. First, female artists. Then, British. What sort of sample does that leave us?

Typical girls get upset too quickly. Typical girls can't control themselves.

One that is 'highly robust', in market research terminology. The anger of punk paradoxically liberated women to create a new voice within alternative music. That voice was not monolithic or proscribed. There was no canonical template, no Jessie J on The Voice, to explain what would sell. It was a brief moment in time when everyone had license to do their own thing and women to go their own way.

Typical girls don't think too clearly. Typical girls are unpredictable.

Of course, not much of this music did sell, which was a problem. The groups featured in the British Female Post Punk Icons came together for a few singles, an album or two, and then generally faded from view. Not all of them. Siouxsie and the Banshees had a long and varied career. But what wouldn't we give for a ten-album box set from Young Marble Giants or X Ray Spex? Imagine that.

Typical girls feel like hell. Typical girls worry about spots, fat and natural smells.

In these diverse times, its easy to forget how patronised women must have felt in the late 1970s, in a Britain where it was OK to joke about rape on sitcoms. On this podcast you can hear groups like The Raincoats and The Slits slyly, amusedly fighting back against the male orthodoxies of the day.

Can't decide what clothes to wear...typical girls are cruel and bewitching.

It must have taken some chutzpah to inhabit this new identity. Their fellow male punk travellers were generally supportive, but in this version of Britain men didn't change nappies, couldn't cook, prevented their daughters from attending university. A Britain closer to The Handmaid's Tale than The Female Eunuch.  

And there's another marketing ploy. Typical girls gets the typical boy.

It would be a mistake to think nothing has changed in the last forty years. And some of that is down to the influence of the female bands in this podcast episode, raising feminist consciousness via their novel take on what punk rock could mean to the disenfranchised women of Britain.

"(The Raincoats) seemed like ordinary people playing extraordinary music. They had enough confidence to be vulnerable and to be themselves without having to take on the mantle of male rock/punk rock aggression...or the typical female as sex symbol avec irony or sensationalism." (Kim Gordon, Sonic Youth).

 

Tracklist

Hong Kong Garden, Siouxsie and the Banshees

C30, C60, C90 Go, Bow Wow Wow

Getting Nowhere Fast, Girls At Our Best

Germ Free Adolescents, X-Ray Spex

It's Obvious, the Au Pairs

Typical Girls, The Slits

German Film Star, The Passions

Anticipation, Delta 5

On My Radio, The Selecter

No Side To Fall In, The Raincoats

Nature Intended The Abstract, Young Marble Giants

Song to the Siren, This Mortal Coil

Knife Slits Water, A Certain Ratio

Dead Pop Stars, Altered Images