Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Rash Treatment

The reinvention of the Poison Girls came with the release of this transitional album from 1984.
They tied up the loose ends of their past by dedicating part one of this release to a retrospective collection of previously unreleased tracks, various single releases and a couple of previous album tracks.
Part two, in contrast, introduced their new sound, with a live performance of songs old and new recorded in Manchester in 1983.

The album begins where the band began, in 1977.
And the almost thrash-like 'Revenge' gets an airing for the first time.
Harsh, vitriolic and full to the brim with anger and energy, Richard Famous gobs the lyric right into the establishment's ears.
He really means it, man; and he did.

Richard's other great song from the early days, 'Dirty Work', is also included, but in the main Frances (Vi Subversa) leads the rallying cry.

She can be totally scary ('Reality Attack'), scathing ('Statement'), tender ('Cry No More') and downright bloody-minded, best exemplified in the venomous Dworkin-like, misandry-fuelled 'Offending Article', accusing the male of the species for all the terrible problems of the world and wonders whether a neutering programme may be of benefit.

Radical feminism meets fascism?
But sometimes it's quite easy to find yourself empathising with her point of view.

The new Line up included a prominent keyboard sound and the addition of an extra female voice, creating a radical change in the band's dynamic and tone.
Much of the harshness and spikiness that can be heard on their earlier material has fallen away, and softer textures are created; sounding almost progy in places.
Well it was the mid-eighties.

Their goal was to achieve a greater audience - after all, they had been preaching to the converted for years; it was time to turn some heads:

'It is now for us to take ideas that can release imagination, out of the ghetto which has raised and inspired us, into the wider world.'

For a while Poison Girls did broaden their appeal, gaining some interest from beyond the regular clique of the anarcho-punk set.
They played at Glastonbury, went down a storm, and no doubt had a boost in sales as a consequence.
They may even have got a review in Sounds.

The last time I saw them, it was just Richard and Frances, playing as a duo under another name (I can't remember if they were called Snakes and Ladders or Oranges and Lemons [!] although it could have been Apples and Pears, but it was something like that...) in the depths of Cornwall at The Elephant Fair (1986?).

They were still doing it. Richard played a mean guitar and Vi, still in wicked voice, told us how it was while pounding out the beat with a club hammer she struck against a scaffold pole.

Where they are now I don't know.
I used to know Frances' kids, Gemma and Dan, but we all lost touch years ago.
But hey; if you've Googled the Poisons, ended up here, and you're in touch with anyone from the Poisons' camp, say hello from me.

And in some way or other, I hope it's still going on, I hope they're still doing it: still banging away.

Hey, some of us will always listen.

Poison Girls - 7 Year Scratch (1984)

Part 1:

Revenge (Mono, Not Previously Released, 1977)
Reality Attack (4 Track Recording, NPR, 78)
Alienation (4 Track Recording, NPR, 78)
Piano Lessons (12" Version, 79)
I Wanted the Moon (NPR, 79)
Jump Mama Jump (From Hex, 79)
Statement (Released as Flexi with Chappaquiddick, 80)
Promenade Immortelle (7" Version, 81)
Dirty Work (7" Version, 81)
Cry No More (From Where's the Pleasure, 82)
Offending Article (NPR, 83)

Part 2:

Live Recording: Gilly's, Manchester, October, 83.

Fear of Freedom
Where's the Pleasure
Too Close for Comfort
Real Woman
Are You Happy now?
Too Proud
Tell the Children
White Cream Dream
State Control and Rock n Roll
I've Done It All Before

Decent vinyl rip @320kbs

Poison yourself with Part 1 here
Poison yourself with Part 2 here


'Richard' said...

Still sticking it right up the arse of the system!

roy rocket said...

God Bless Ya

devotionalhooligan said...

perfect roy... i've only ever had a dodgy cass copy of this.i still remember the shock of seeing them play in the early eighties and VI was probably about the same age as my ma... totally blew me away & they were always more of an influence on me than crass.my daughters great grandma was in a PG Video,ironing crumpled clothes... can't remember which song though.
love 'n' hugs.gary x

roy rocket said...

Yeah, much more important than Crass I think (have you heard Jeffrey Lewis's '12 Crass Songs'? That's pretty good).
Very Genuine people as well.
Interesting that you have a connection... 'Great Grandma', jeepers, makes me feel rather infirm...

Notice there was a comment from 'Richard'; don't know if it is Richard Famous; I'd like to think it was...

Still, life is good, and I hope it is with you
Shanti, roy

gclot said...

Everytime I look at your blog you it amazes me how similar our tastes are. Baroque Zappa covers to Poison Girls makes perfect sense to me but not many others I bet. As always another really great post. I loved the poison girls and the do you know how painful it is to give birth ban the bomb politics. Soft Touch was very popular in my house.
take care of yourself


devotionalhooligan said...

the jeff lewis album is great...a whole new generation picking up crass,i really like the whole antifolk scene... reminds me a lot of the anarcho-punk scene/idealism.

life is pretty good with me too.x

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Wow! Getting here 1 year late (1 year scratch?) but no less gladfully surprised. When I got the Statement box some 15 years ago I knew it wasnt at all a "complete" edition as the cover stated - "One Good Reason" was missing, as well as most of "Total Exposure". But little did I know that this 1984 comp had such a collection of rarities apart from the ones included in the box (Revenge, I Wanted the Moon, etc). Can't wait to hear it! Thanks a lot,
Fernando :)