Thursday, November 20, 2014

the raincoats

The Raincoats turned punk inside out with this fractured avante-garde psych-folk fairytale.  Ana da Silva and Gina Birch started the band in 1977 while they were studying at Hornsey College of Art in London.  A revolving cast of characters that included Ross Crighton, Nick Turner, Kate Korus, Jeremie Frank. Richard Dudanski, and Patrick Keiller before they settled on an all-female lineup with Vicky Aspinall and Palmolive (Paloma Romero).  They signed with Rough Trade Records and released the single "Fairytale in the Supermarket" before making their eponymous debut.  

'The Raincoats' was recorded at Berry St. Studio, London with Geoff Travis and Mayo Thompson co-producing with the band.  The sessions featured Ana da Silva on vocals, keyboards, and guitar;   Gina Birch on vocals and bass guitar;  Palmolive on drums;   Vicky Aspinall on vocals, guitar, bass guitar, and violin;   and Lora Logic providing saxophone on "Black and White".  

da Silva remembers:   "The first one we had just finished a tour, went into the studio and just played it live, pretty much. It took us two weeks to record it—hardly any overdubs and we just did the vocals afterwards, like many people do so it was a very direct thing...Gina felt very inspired by seeing The Slits, as did I. That made Gina want to be in a band. I already played a little guitar so when people said "you didn't really have to play amazing to be in a band" I started thinking like we could do it. That's how we decided...When we started the band it was only me and Gina. At some point, we had Richard Dudanski on drums and Palmolive came up from The Slits. Richard said, "Why don't you ask her to join you?" So we did and Palmolive joined us but we still needed another person. Palmolive put an ad in a bookshop saying "Violin or Keyboard Player Required. Strength not style." Vicky snatched the ad, phoned us up and she joined. So that was a good thing." 

Birch looks back:   "I think basically...neither of us would have dreamt in a million years that we would be doing anything like that if it hadn't been for punk.  So I think the major kind of focus and kind of landscape in which we operated was really to do with punk.  By the time we went to record, I was really into what the Slits were doing.  And in a way, one gets secondary influences from that.  Ana was totally into what Patti Smith was doing.  And I really liked what ATV were doing.  I suppose I liked the punk bands that actually had that influence from dub stuff, maybe because I was playing the bass--I was really into the bass carrying the melody...I think [we were different from other bands due to] the fact that we let ourselves be very vulnerable in a way.  I think we really, really believed in a kind of punk ethos.  I think it became quite clear to us quite quickly that lots of people seemed to believe in it, but they didn't really practice it.  We didn't realize that so many of those musicians were actually fantastic musicians.  We really believed the press, you know, that you just pick up an instrument and learn three chords and see what happens.  There's an awful lot of people practicing [that] were already really sharp musicians.  But I think what happened with us was...we really learned in public, and we were never really into a kind of idea of show business.  And we were quite shy, really.  Groups like the Slits, Ari Upp and Palm Olive, they really liked to show off.  I really like that, I'm not saying this is a bad thing.  But we were never like that.  We were like a kind was like watching a process, which the audience kind of felt they were privileged to kind of spy in on.  I don't know--it was odd...I suppose the fact that we were women, and the fact that we had some inkling about what we wanted as women, I suppose.  We wanted things to be different.  We didn't want to have to wear short skirts and have fab legs in order to have people think what we did was great.  Not that I've got anything against that either, but we wanted to be what we wanted to be."

"Fairytale in the Supermarket"

'The Raincoats' 
full album:

All songs written by The Raincoats, except where noted.

"Fairytale in the Supermarket" - 2:57
"No Side to Fall In" – 1:47
"Adventures Close to Home" – 1:54
"Off Duty Trip" – 3:14
"Black and White" – 2:29
"Lola" (Ray Davies) – 4:03
"The Void" – 3:51
"Life on the Line" – 4:22 (lyrics by Ross Crighton and The Raincoats)
"You're a Million" – 3:53
"In Love" – 3:05
"No Looking" – 3:05 (lyrics translated and adapted from a poem by Jacques Prévert)

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