I love new music from 1978, which is what we have from the Dolly Mixtures. Rachel Bor, Hester Smith and Debsey Wykes formed The Dolly Mixtures in 1978 as one of the first all women guitar forward punk pop bands. In fact, they are one of the first all women bands full stop. The Go Gos are largely seen as one fo the first all women bands; however, hey formed in 1978 as well, so it is at best a push with The Dolly Mixtures. Even though the Go Gos had a far more successful career, The Dolly Mixtures were ahead of their time. Having said that, their music has long been hidden and released under smaller record labels under limited numbers. However, we have been blessed with a brand new 2021 reissue of Other Music, which consists of 11 tracks.
Now, there have been some vinyl releases of Dolly Mixtures music on records like Other Music and Demonstration Tapes in 2010 and 2019. Demonstration Tapes even got a digital release back in 2010, but went largely unnoticed. Now, we have a new re-issue on iTunes / Apple Music, which has been promoted on their front page. So, this is probably the first time a lot of people have heard the band’s music. Interestingly, from their alternative punk look to their 60s pop / punk vibe you would be forgiven for thinking that they are an up and coming indie band. Due to my favourite new music loophole, the re-issue of a long forgotten band loophole, I am counting this record in the 2021 new music category. This is great news, because this record is a banger.
There are a lot of killer tracks on this record, but the one that best encapsulates the band’s brilliance is How Come You’re Such a Hit with The Boys Jane. Bor, Smith and Wykes create this hypnotic fusion between a Kinks style punk vibe with a 60s surfer pop effervescence that is difficult to resist. Hester Smith on the drums has a Meg White style, which really snaps against Debsey’s raw piercing guitar. Bor fills out the sound and helps the band hit more pop notes, but the track is really driven by the interplay between Debsey and Hester. The track has a raw bubblegum quality that is difficult to describe. As soon as you are lulled into a false sense of pop security, Hester snaps that drum and Debsey rips a killer guitar riff. How Come You’re Such a Hit With the Boys Jane has a raw energy to it that lies at the core of all great punk music of its time and still today.
When you listen to The Dolly Mixtures, you hear the seeds for such bands as Sleater Kinney, Bikini Kill and even L7. There is nothing safe about The Dolly Mixtures. From their short hair and suspenders to their determination to break through in a male dominated punk / pop UK scene, the Dolly Mixtures were trailblazers. Moreover, they adopted a raw sound that still rings true for music today. I am so happy that they have this new re-issue in a prominent place on iTunes, so people can appreciate their music. However, it’s great that during Women’s History Month we can appreciate how they broke through gender barriers in the music history. In interviews Hester talked about how she wanted to play the drums after seeing Karen Carpenter play the drums, most likely in 1976. Who knows how many women Hester, Debsey and Rachel inspired by taking the stage as proud punk women throwing down some punk with fearless abandon.