Last week both myself and photographer Svenja Block were invited to attend an event on behalf of Mudkiss, as the revised third edition book of Lucy O' Brian's 'SHE BOP: The Definitive History Of Women In Popular Music' (Jawbone) was being launched at the Society. Lucy has been writing since the early '80s, growing up in Southampton, with a background which includes performing with all-girl punk band The Catholic Girls, and writing for the NME, Sunday Times, Marie Claire, The Guardian, Q and Mojo. She also has other music biography titles in her back catalogue such as Madonna: Like An Icon, and biographies of Dusty Springfield and Annie Lennox. When she isn't writing she can be found teaching Media & Communications at London's Goldmith's College and Westminster University.
In attendance was the author herself and various writers and artists I was familiar with over the years like journalist Caroline Coon (infamous from the punk era) and Skin from the band 'Skunk Anansie'. Both the author and Skin gave a brief informative chat about the ideas behind the book and women in music!
The book cover features the late Ari Up from The Slits, which is a great start, and is an excellent reference book for anyone interested in women and in the music industry, it makes for a very interesting read. As a kid I came in with the likes of Suzi Quatro and then Patti Smith / The Runaways and then Punk / Post Punk generation like Siouxsie Sue / Poly Styrene / The Slits / Debbie Harry / Chrissie Hynde / Kate Bush etc. Then there was also the great Disco stuff by the likes of Donna Summer and Diana Ross/ Chaka Khan. In my twenties I started looking back at the likes of Aretha Franklin / Dusty Springfield and Sandi Shaw. This book takes us back to even pre the Golden years of pop/rock to remember great artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday. Later on in the book you will find women's role in Rap and Reggae, and the importance of artists like Madonna in the early MTV years. Also covered are women and protest pop which includes Joan Baez/ Nina Simone and through to the Raincoats/Tracy Chapman/ Sinead O' Conner and PJ Harvey and finally to the Riot girl movement. The book has a variety of chapters, covering the entire musical history throughout the ages:
Riffin' The Scotch: From Blues To The Jazz Age
Stupid Cupid: Dream Babes In 1950s Pop
The Real Thing: Motown, Spector And 1960s Svengalis
Can The Can: Whatever Happened To The Rock Chick?
Final Girls: Punk, Performance Art And PMT Pop
Ladies Of The Canyon: Female Singer/Songwriters Of The Grand Hotel
Lipstick Traces: Madonna, Manipulation And MTV
She Wears The Trousers: Artistry, Androgyny And The Lesbian Question
I Wanna Dance With Somebody: Deconstructing The Disco Diva
In Search Of Our Mothers' Gardens: The True Story Of Women In Rap/Reggae
Oye Mi Canto: Hear My Voice - Women In World Music
Talkin' Tough: The Enemy Within - Women And Protest Pop
Talkin' Business: Nuts `N' Bolts And All The Necessaries
Girlpower: The New Generation
The book ends with with a chapter on the global pop scene as in Lady Gaga / Rhianna / Adele etc But things don't end all bright and cheery - lets not forget the plight of Pussy Riot in Russia. The Society club in Ingeltrie st in Soho is always worth checking out and so is Lucy's book 'She Bop' and many others from her back catalouge. This book is well worth the £14.00 tag and can be bought here:
Report by Jeffrey Munday
Photos by Svenga Block (1st photo: Lucy and her children with Skin, 2nd photo: Lucy & Jeff, 3rd photo: Caroline Coon with Jeff)