Pickwick Records is probably better known to readers in the UK- a budget label in the manner of Ronco and K-Tel, they released a flood of product from the sixties onward and seemed to hit their stride in the late seventies/early eighties with sleazy compilations such as the not at all sexistly titled ‘Hot Ladies of Rock.’
At the risk of perpetuating the misogyny I would have to agree that this LP certainly does a fair job of reflecting the ‘hot’ female artists of the period- at least in terms of quality, cultural relevance, and/or chart action. You couldn’t ask for a better roster actually. The only criticism is that Pickwick could have had a wider selection of artists with less doubling-up, but I’m sure that was done for budget reasons. The only stinker in the bunch is the inclusion of ‘Paying the Price of Love’ by Crush, a group so obscure that I’ve never heard of them. And I specialize in the genre.
I have a thing for kitschy bottom-of-the-barrel vinyl compilations. You can keep your expensive high-profile cover art by The Police and Madonna; if you want to see the REAL design aesthetic of the eighties you’ve got to dig down to the level of ‘Hot Ladies of Rock.’ The uncredited model used for the cover was most probably a randomly chosen secretary working at Pickwick Records, dolled up on a moving bus while rushing to a hasty photo shoot with the promise of extra £5 in her pay, immortalized like some second-rate Toyah clone forevermore. Fantastic.
Hazel O’Connor- D Days
Pat Benatar- Heartbreaker
Toyah- I Want To Be Free
Crush- Paying The Price Of Love
Rachel Sweet- B-A-B-Y
Runaways- Queens Of Noise
Blondie- (I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear
‘Rebel Run’ was the first single released from Toyah’s fifth studio album, 1983’s ‘Love is the Law.’ It reached #24 on the UK charts but failed to register elsewhere. It is her seventh highest-charting single to date.
I give Toyah props for having the creativity to constantly reinvent herself. This post-apocalyptic skater look wasn’t one of her more memorable guises, however. The term ‘only in the eighties’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but seriously, only in the eighties could someone get away with such non-ironic post-punk neon kitsch without their head exploding in a cloud of bloody camp confetti-
The sleeve art is nearly identical to the 7″ version, with the inclusion of info on the 12″ bonus track ‘Baptised in Fire.’ The imagery is of Toyah wearing the outfit that appears in the video for the single. Simple, understated, Toyah.
Author: Liz Thompson (editor)
Publisher: Delilah/Putnam/Omnibus Press
Location purchased: 1/2 Price Book Warehouse, Syracuse NY
If you don’t know by now female vocalists are my thing. British groups/artists in particular. No one text has had a greater impact on my musical tastes and education than this book- flipping through it now I’m STILL amazed by the sheer amount of obscure data it contains…
‘New Women in Rock’ covers (not surprisingly) female artists that were hot in 1982. So tight is its focus though it could have been easily been called ‘Women in New Wave’ or even- and more accurately- ‘British Women in New Wave’ were it not for the inclusion of a few odd ducks such as Bette Midler and Joan Armatrading.
The biggies you’d expect to find are all here- Lene Lovich, Blondie, and Siouxsie to name a few. Where the book really shines though is the inclusion and equal treatment of all but unknown artists today such as Wendy Wu and the Photos, The Mo-Dettes, and Cherry Vanilla.The book assumes that you- a contemporary 1982 music lover- have at least a working knowledge of the artists covered; the write-ups are more of a ‘slice of life’ than an in-depth history.
Eleven different authors contribute, each with their own approach to their chosen subject. It is unclear if the article-format essays were written exclusively for this book (I assume they are), but the inclusion of writers such as Vivien Goldman hints at a deeper level of commitment to the subject since many are prominent reviewers of the day.
The book itself is gorgeous. Oversized and full-color, it contains many photographs of the artists I haven’t seen anywhere else. The layout is tight and stylish, dripping with top-notch 80’s class right down to the font choices- the slick presentation you’d expect from 80’s Omnibus Press offerings. There’s a rather comprehensive discography included as well; I’m sure hardcore completeness will snigger at the inevitable omissions, but it should keep the layman happy and busy attempting to track down its contents for quite a while.
Copies can still be found rather easily and cheaply today. Highly recommended.