Pauline Black, The Selecter and Siouxsie Sioux, Siouxsie and the Banshees
Punk had swept away all that had gone before and it was a time of reinvention really for women. There’s a very, very famous photograph that has myself, Debbie Harry, Chrissie Hynde, Viv Albertine, Siouxsie Sioux and Poly Styrene all collected together for the front cover of an NME and those were the women who did change the pop landscape.
Pauline Black, The Selecter
I think the first time I would have seen Siouxsie and the Banshees would have been Top of the Pops, 1980, when they were on there doing Happy House. It stayed with me and I could tell that, you know, there was a lot of depth to what Siouxsie was doing.
She, as an icon, was never a sex symbol. Her entire career was about refusing the male gaze, refusing to be sexualised in that way, refusing to be submissive to the male leer. In rock and roll terms that was a real first. She’s quite a kind of forbidding presence, really. There was a real toughness to Siouxsie, this refusal to compromise. And, I think fans, whether male or female, respected that. I got it completely.
I was really shy, cripplingly shy, at the time. I loved the idea that I could walk down the street looking quite alien and quite freakish and people would look at me, they’d stare, but they’d keep their distance. And I think Siouxsie inspired that in a way, because you cannot take your eyes off her. But you don’t want to get too close, because she is, frankly, terrifying.
She’s on the western side looking at the Jersey skyline. She’s in a real bad mood so she couldn’t write back to you. She’s had the longest day and it’s a gridlocked highway. She’s in a real bad mood so she couldn’t write back to you. That poke at every bruise. Is she gonna write back to you? You’re an exhausted kid of fractured relationships. You wanna crush that gloom. Is she gonna write back to you? “Hey Allison! This city’s a total disaster without you around.” You spent the days inside avoiding social landmines “Hey Allison! This sudden detachment from friendship is making me ache.”
While you were asleep On the couch, watching a movie, smoking weed Rummaging through the utensils in the kitchen counter, In the drainer, which one’s sharper. When the light creeps in loosen my grip and crawl back into my bed. Your alarm is set to go off in a half an hour. Eyes closed. Fake snore. None the wiser.
On this day in music history: December 10, 1985 - “Fine Young Cannibals”, the debut album by Fine Young Cannibals is released. Produced by Robin Millar, it is recorded at The Power Plant Studios in Willesden, North London and Sound Suite Studios in Camden, London, UK from May - August 1985. Following the break up of The (English) Beat in 1983, co-founding members David Steele and Andy Cox set about forming a new band. Going through more than five hundred demo tapes and spending eight months looking for a lead singer to front their band, Steele and Cox find singer Roland Gift, originally a member of the Hull based ska band The Akrylykz. Blessed with a uniquely soulful and distinctive voice, natural charisma and stage presence, Gift proves to be the perfect front man. The trio name themselves Fine Young Cannibals after the 1960 film “All The Fine Young Cannibals” starring Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. Writing more than enough material to a record a full album, FYC go in search of a record deal. Surprisingly, in spite of Steele and Cox’s past track record of success with The Beat, they have great difficulty in getting a record company interested in signing the new unproven band. While still unsigned, Fine Young Cannibals make an appearance on the long running music show “The Tube” in late 1984, performing three original songs. Almost immediately, offers from the very record labels that had previously rejected FYC come pouring in, following the positive response to their debut television performance. Signing with London Records in the UK and IRS Records in the US, the band enter the studio with producer Robin Millar, fresh off of having produced Sade’s hugely successful debut album “Diamond Life”. Featuring nearly all original material, Fine Young Cannibals’ unique blend of ska, new wave, pop and R&B does take long to find favor with the public. Their debut single “Johnny Come Home” (#8 UK Pop, #76 US Pop, #8 US Club Play), quickly becomes a hit in the UK and gains the band a foothold in the US. It spins off three singles including a cover of Elvis Presley’s classic “Suspicious Minds” (#8 UK Pop), featuring Jimmy Somerville (Bronski Beat, The Communards) on backing vocals. The album is reissued on CD in 1999, and then remastered and reissued again in 2013 as two CD deluxe edition. The first disc features the original ten track album with three additional bonus tracks. The second disc contains the 12" dance mixes of “Johnny” and “Suspicious”. “Fine Young Cannibals” peaks number eleven on the UK album chart and number forty nine on the Billboard Top 200.
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