Monday, 20 June 2011

Dolly Mixture - Remember This: The Singles Collection 1980-1984

Jane stays cool, the other girls dance,
Kisses her cigarette, waits for her chance
The boys are moving in she’s ready to go
With all the information that they wanna know...

How come you're a hit with the boys, Jane?
You know you put all the rest of the girls to shame

Dolly Mixture is one of the most underrated bands of the late Seventies/early Eighties, without a doubt. A musical case of 'always the bridesmaid, never the bride' rang true for them, as despite having chart success as backing singers for Captain Sensible, their own post-punk pop songs were kept slightly more hidden from Top 40 fame.

Cambridge-based school friends Debsey Wykes (bass/vocals), Rachel Bor (guitar/vocals), and Hester Smith (drums) started up Dolly Mixture in 1978, encouraged by a mutual love of the Shangri-La's and The Undertones (who they supported on one of their first tours). Pop fact - they were once supported by a little known band called U2, and also played with The Fall and The Transmitters in '79.

It's thanks to John Peel that the girls were given their first big break after moving to the Big Smoke - the ultimate tastemaker (who still stands unrivalled for his impeccable taste in new music) played them on his radio show and fawned over them in his Sounds column, and they briefly signed to Chrysalis, before disowning their Shirelles cover of 'Baby It's You' for fear of being marketed as a girl group. Releasing their Captain Sensible-produced single 'Been Teen' on Paul Weller's label in '81, the trio ended up recording backing vocals for his hit single 'Happy Talk' and appeared on Top Of The Pops.

Determined to be seen as a separate entity to CS, they released the Demonstration Tapes album on their own Dead Good Dolly Platters label in 1983, which featured Dolly Mixture songs at their best - bopping pop gems that sparkle with cheekiness and sass (listen to 'He's So Frisky' and 'How Come You're Such a Hit With the Boys, Jane?' for an introduction to their very British harmonies and humour). The heavily instrumental EP Fireside followed the year after, before the band called it quits.

Last year they released a very limited box set that sold out before I could gather together some record-buying funds, but luckily another collection has just been released - Remember This : The Singles Collection 1980-1984. I made sure this one didn't pass me by, and spent this afternoon spinning the beautiful white LP as I did a little DIY in the house. The collection spans the bulk of their catalogue; Side A compiles their early poppier numbers (inc. 'New Look Baby', 'Been Teen' and 'Everything And More') and Side B leans on the more classically-inspired piano and cello tracks - the different styles they experimented with further go to show why their were named 'Dolly Mixture'. Tracking down Demonstration Tapes as an accompaniment is also highly recommended.

You can learn more about Dolly Mixture here.

How Come You're Such A Hit With The Boys, Jane?:

Been Teen:

On TOTP with Captain Sensible:

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