For a band that released a few singles, a posthumous EP and only 1000 copies of their only album, a three disc box set might seem like overkill for an obscure all girl band from the UK. Dolly Mixture may have been better known at the time of their existence as Captain Sensible‘s back up singers. Captain Sensible of the Damned had two hit singles in the early 80’s away from the Damned. Both (Happy Talk & Wot) were campy, nudging in on Ian Dury territory and of course over the top, but more importantly employed the backing vocals of the Dolly Mixture.
mp3: Captain Sensible – Wot (from Captain Sensible The Collection)
mp3: Captain Sensible – Happy Talk (from Captain Sensible The Collection)
Dolly Mixture were a force to be rekoned with in their own right, mixing the pure pop of 60’s girls groups with a bit of glam, mod and punk. They were a precursor to indiepop and can claim a direct influence on the Riot Grrrl movement. They were an all girl band who stuck to their guns, not caving to major label males’ demands that they let men play the music on their records leaving them to just be pretty faces. It’s sad to think that this is one of the reasons they were forced to self-release their debut album the double record Demonstration Tapes which actually only contained demos. Listening to it today, it sounds perfect as ‘just’ demos though maybe a little warbled because of less then pristine storing of the masters. Their voices still shine through and are pure as the driven snow, the guitars, strings and percussion evoke a Tamala/Motown sound that probably would have been lost if they had been produced. One of the three discs in the box set contains the Demonstration Tapes double LP (the album was also reissued on vinyl as an extremely limited edition of 300 copies as well). The second disc compiles their singles and the third disc contains a few covers, some demos and tracks that fell between the cracks.
mp3: Dolly Mixture -Everything and More (from the box set Everything and More)
mp3: Dolly Mixture – How Come Your Such A Hit With the Boys, Jane? (from the box set Everything and More)
The liner notes were written by Bob Stanley of St. Etienne. Stanley is a long-time fan and even counted Debsey Wykes at one time as a member of the St. Etienne’s touring band. There Wykes met Paul Kelly who compiled the songs for this box set restored them from crusty old tapes and did the layout for the release. You may remember Wykes and Kelly were in Birdie together in the late 90’s and early 00’s. Birdie put out two rather nice records that kind of continued along the Dolly Mixture path but added in a little Free Design and not surprisingly some of the mellow dance vibe of St. Etienne.
mp3: Birdie – One Two Five (from Some Dusty)
So you may ask, what kind of influence does a band that existed for a few fleeting moments 30 years ago have on today’s bands. You need look no further than Sweden’s Liechtenstein. Yeah, there are quite a few bands out there today that you could tag with a Dolly Mixture influence, but Liechtenstein, besides being a trio of women who play their own instruments, harmonize and make pop songs that can sound sweet and innocent on one side and then on the next cop a punk attitude. Their debut CD Survival Strategies in a Modern World came out last year on Slumberland, but not ones to rest, have just released a new 7″ single on Swedish label Fraction Discs.