Mar 20, 2013

RhoDeo 1311 Aetix

Hello, officially spring is starting today not that tempertures look anything like it, in fact it's getting colder again. Those silly Cypriots really don't understand their position, they sold out to Russian (mob) money and now they expect Europe to balance their crooked books. I say go away and enjoy your sunshine and leave us.  Meanwhile Aetix continues with females in the lead, and today as promised continuing from last week as well as...  Music historian Gillian G. Gaar noted in her history of women in rock that the band mingled male and female musicians in a revolutionary collaborative way, as part of its outspoken explorations of sexual politics......  N'Joy

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Vi Subversa real name Frances Sokolov Sansom (born 20 June 1935, London) was the singer and guitarist of UK anarcho-punk band Poison Girls. She was born of East-European Jewish parents. In 1979, at 44 years old and a mother of two, Vi Subversa released the first single with the Poison Girls.

The Poison Girls were an English punk band. The female singer and guitarist, Vi Subversa, was forty one years old and a mother of two children at the band’s inception in 1976, and she wrote songs that explored sexuality and gender roles, usually from an anarchist perspective. The original Poison Girls line-up also included: Lance D’Boyle on drums; Richard Famous on guitar and vocals and Bernhardt Rebours on bass, synthesizer and piano.

Poison Girls formed in Brighton in 1976, before moving to Burleigh House in Essex, near to Dial House, the home of fellow anarchist band Crass, with whom they worked closely for a number of years, playing over one hundered gigs with the band. In 1979 the band contributed to the revival of the peace movement by playing a number of benefit gigs with Crass and paying for the production of the first CND badges since CND’s heyday in the late 1960’s.

The band released two slabs of vinyl in 1979 firstly ‘Closed Shop / Piano Lessons’ on Small Wonder Records which was a split 12″ single with Fatal Microbes, a band that contained two of Vi Subversa’s children, Pete and Gemma. The absolutely brilliant ‘Hex’, a 45 rpm LP was also put out on the Small Wonder Record label in 1979 and through it’s popularity was re-released on Crass Records in 1981. Hex, was produced by Crass drummer Penny Rimbaud, as was the following year's Chappaquiddick Bridge

‘Chappaquiddick Bridge’ the debut 33 rpm LP was also released on Crass Records in 1980 plus ‘A Statement’ flexi disc was slipped into the gatefold sleeve packaging. While the guitar-based music on both records was fairly subtle, Subversa's lyrics were anything but, tackling issues of politics, normalcy, romance, and feminism with fury and intelligence.

Their song ‘Bully Boys / Pretty Polly’ (flexi disc given away free with In The City magazine) was an attack on violent machismo that led to the band being blacklisted by the left wing Socialist Workers Party and attacked by members of the right wing National Front both these political movements were convinced it was an attack on there organisations. Of course it was!

The band went on to set up the label Xntrix alongside a publishing arm for the Impossible Dream magazine and recording studios for other artists. The ‘All Systems Go’ 7” was the bands last Crass Records release and came out in 1981. Poison Girls stopped touring with Crass toward the end of that year. After releasing Total Exposure, a stopgap live album recorded in Scotland in mid-1981, the Poison Girls returned in 1982 with a newly skilled and sophisticated sound on Where's the Pleasure, which found Subversa streamlining her material to focus solely on the subject of sex.

By the 1983 EP I'm Not a Real Woman, the band had virtually abandoned its punk roots in favor of Celtic folk singing and cabaret-styled pop; 1985's Songs of Praise even found elements of funk creeping into the mix.
In the late '80s, the Poison Girls called it quits. A four-CD retrospective, Statement: The Complete Recordings 1977-1989, was issued in 1996,  their songs also frequently appear on punk anthologies.

Poison Girls were involved with the production of Aids — The Musical, through a company called The Lenya Hobnoobs Theatre Company. They did another show called Mother Russia was a Lesbian in 1992, and reunited for a show at the London Astoria II in 1995, celebrating the 60th birthday of Vi Subversa. Currently, Richard Famous works as a painter and decorator. Vi Subversa lives in Spain. The pair have performed as That Famous Subversa, a cabaret act they did together before the Poison Girls.

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Poison Girls - Statement (Box Set)

Poison Girls were more akin to Brechtian punk cabaret acts, such as the highly talented Dresden Dolls or Nina Hagen; like such acts, Poison Girls were multi-faceted - displaying far too much personality to be accurately categorised under same label as Crass. Like the Dresden Dolls, Poison Girls expressed tender feelings as well as more violent ones. They sang about personal intimate thing as much as about greater political issues. Vi Subversa was a vivid, versatile performer - well-adapted to playing many different roles; in 'Old Tart's Song' she plays a prostitute, in 'Bremen Song' she is a witch, in 'Whiskey Voice' she is an aging alcoholic, in 'Idealogically Unsound' she is playfully flirtatious and wonderfully girly, whilst in 'Velvet Launderette' she plays a sinister Johnny-Depp-style Willy Wonka. Fantastic stuff. Dramatic, theatrical and highly entertaining. Great tracks all of them.

A mosaic of sound effects is interwoven into many of these songs; On the first album 'Hex' (German for 'Witch') - 'Bremen Song' begins with bird song and mantra-like harmonics, whilst 'Reality Attack' begins with the sound of supermarket tills etc. On the second album (Chappaquiddick Bridge) vocal sounds are played around with and tweaked more - ie on 'Underbitch' the word 'bitch' mutates into 'Spitz', whilst in 'Hole in the Wall' the words 'Seek and Hide' become 'Seig und Heil' etc. 'Chappaquiddick Bridge' conjures up a film-noir world of criminal mobsters, cold war espionage and nervous breakdown, whilst the third album 'Where's the Pleasure' has a maturer, world-weary vibe and is even more musically divergent - the opening track, has echoing reggae-rifts. Other songs seem closer to folk music than to traditional rock and roll.

The final LP - 'Songs of Praise' - has a more commercial feel to it - as if geared for the bland mass market, rather than the authentic underground from which it had emerged. This box set comprises of four albums plus singles and EPs - 72 tracks in all. Anyone who appreciates intelligent music will find some track of appeal and interest amongst this box set.

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Songs of Praise is even more skillful and attractive. Having long since proven herself a talented and unique singer, Vi is in fine voice; the band stretches further into areas of sublime, suave rock and funk scarcely imaginable at the group's outset. Lyrics are likewise subtler and more intriguing.

Poison Girls - Songs of Praise + Later Recordings  (flac 430mb)

01 Real Woman 3:44
02 Hot For Love 3:33
03 Riot In My Mind 3:54
04 Feeling The Pinch 2:09
05 Desperate Days 6:21
06 Voodoo Papadolla 4:33
07 Too Close For Comfort 4:13
08 Rockface 3:35
09 No More Lies 2:46
10 Too Proud 4:18
11 Price Of Grain 2:45
12 Stonehenge 2:56
13 Jenny 3:36
14 Girls Over There 4:01
15 Let It Go 3:46
16 Cupid 3:45
17 Mirrors And Glass 2:10
18 Abort The System 3:41
19 All The Way 4:56
20 State Banjo 0:22
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Blasting into the post-punk consciousness with a tremendous debut album, the Au Pairs, fronted by lesbian-feminist Lesley Woods, played brittle, dissonant, guitar-based rock that shared political and musical kinship with the Mekons and (especially) the Gang of Four. The music was danceable, imbued with an almost petulant irony, and for a while, very hip and well-liked by critics. Unlike many bands of the day, however, the Au Pairs (at least initially) backed it up with searing, confrontational songs celebrating sexuality from a woman's perspective. Also, they took swipes at the conservative political climate sweeping England after Margaret Thatcher's election as Prime Minister. Occasionally, Woods' commitments to sexual and social politics made her sound inflexible, doctrinaire, and hectoring (especially on their OK second album). But, at first blush, the Au Pairs were a mighty intimidating proposition, able to take on so much and deliver great music in the process.

Following the departure of Jane Munro in 1983, she was replaced by Nick O'Connor (who also played piano / synthesizers in the group). At this time the group were further augmented by Jayne Morris (percussion and backing vocals) and Graeme Hamilton (trumpet). The band broke up in 1983, just before they were about to go into the studio to record an album with producer Steve Lillywhite.

Woods formed an all woman band called the Darlings in the late 1980s, but then left the music industry. She now works as a lawyer in London. Guitarist Paul Foad remains an active musician, playing with Andy Hamilton and the Blue Notes, a Jamaican jazz band, and teaching guitar in and around Birmingham. Bass player Jane Munro works as an alternative therapist (aromatherapy, reflexology and Indian head massage) in Birmingham. Pete Hammond also remains an active musician and teaches percussion in Birmingham.

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Opening with the tongue in cheek "We're So Cool," the Au Pairs' debut record is a stunner, from Lesley Woods' scratchy guitar and declamatory vocals to lead guitarist Paul Foad's brittle soloing. This is an uncompromising, defiant record that asks no quarter; gender roles are turned upside down, hetero- and homosexual relationships put under a microscope, and theories about sex and sexuality turned inside out. Similarly, the tense political situation in Northern Ireland is harrowingly addressed in "Armagh," which details Tory-sanctioned torture and sexual abuse of wrongly imprisoned Irish women. An unflinching look at the world, Playing with a Different Sex is one of the great, and perhaps forgotten, post-punk records. This remaster adds ten significant bonus cuts from 1979-1981 singles, which include different versions of tracks from the album and some songs which didn't make it onto the LP in any form.

Au Pairs - Playing With A Different Sex (flac 504mb)

01 We're So Cool 3:29
02 Love Song 2:50
03 Set Up 3:21
04 Repetition 3:49
05 Headache For Michelle 6:55
06 Come Again 3:54
07 Armagh 3:37
08 Unfinished Business 3:28
09 Dear John 2:56
10 It's Obvious 6:19
Bonus Tracks
11 Pretty Boys (BBC Session) 4:01
12 Monogamy (BBC Session) 2:56
13 Ideal Woman (BBC Session) 3:56
14 You (E.P. Track) 2:51
15 Domestic Departure (E.P. Track) 2:22
16 Kerb Crawler (E.P. Track) 2:47
17 Diet (Single B-Side) 4:18
18 It's Obvious (Single A-Side) 5:46
19 Inconvenience (12" Version) 2:56
20 Pretty Boys (12" Version) 3:39

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On their second album, the Au Pairs were very much in tune with the growth pangs of the punk/new wave scene as a whole in the early '80s. In stripping their music to a funkier, more rhythmic essence, and shifting the focus of their lyrics to the personal rather than the political, they lost some of the direct impact (and critical acclaim) of their debut. Musically, however, things were actually more interesting. The addition of horns and imaginative synthesizers allowed for more satisfying sonic diversity. The words were still confrontational, but more obscure in their intent. Although occasionally political (as in the blunt anti-Reagan screed "America"), they were far more concerned with questioning sex/relationship roles .The record didn't get as much attention as their first LP, but it's just as much a touchstone of post-punk. This remaster adds seven significant bonus cuts .

Au Pairs - Sense And Sensuality (flac 503mb)

01 Stepping Out Of Line 6:02
02 Sex Without Stress 4:31
03 Instant Touch 3:00
04 That's When It's Worth It 4:07
05 Shakedown 4:23
06 Tongue In Cheek 3:02
07 Intact 3:16
08 Don't Lie Back 4:50
09 America 5:20
10 Fiasco 3:52
Bonus Tracks
11 No More Secret Lives (1983 Demo) 5:16
12 Runs With Honey (1983 Demo) 6:20
13 Hokka He Ha (1983 Demo) 5:32
14 Taking Care Of Him (1983 Demo) 5:12
15 What Kind Of Girl (Previously Unreleased) 3:36
16 Piece Of My Heart (Live: Berlin Tempodrome 20/6/81) 3:50
17 Headache For Michelle (12" Version) 6:38

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Paul C said...

Chance of a reup Rho?

Paul C said...

Nice one Rho.