The unsung heroines of Punk/Post-Punk/No Wave/New Wave

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 13, 2009 05:46pm | Post a Comment
Since its beginning, rock music has been a male dominated affair. Women, such as Wanda Jackson, were not just anomalies but curiosities. By the '60s there were plenty of girl groups, female soul singers and a few female-fronted rock bands, but the few actually female-dominated rock bands like Ace of Cups, Fanny, The Girls, Goldie & the Gingerbreads (the first all female rock band to sign to a major label) and even the Shaggs aren't exactly household names. That seemed to change in the '70s, when Suzi Quattro and The Runaways seemed to lessen the shock of seeing girls wielding instruments. Whether he was joking or not, Roger Ebert took credit for the girl rock revolution by creating the Carrie Nations in his screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Things really began to change with onset of the new wave of the late '70s. Not only were there female-fronted bands like Siouxise & the Banshees and Blondie, but there were also bands integrated in various ways, like Talking Heads and later The Mekons, Gang of Four, &c. Now, although you could still listen to the radio for a year without hearing an all-female rock band, it's not entirely out of the question. These bands aren't all entirely comprised of women, but they definitely broke the mold.

The Au Pairs "Come Again"

The Bloods "Button Up" (audio only)

Bush Tetras "Too Many Creeps"

Delta 5 "Anticipation"

Dolly Mixture "Been Teen"

Edith Nylon "Edith Nylon"

ESG "Moody" (audio only)

Fatal Microbes "Violence Grows" (audio only)

Flying Lizards "Money"

Girls At Our Best "Warm Girls" (audio only)

Lizzy Mercier Descloux "Fire" and "Torso Corso" (audio only)

Malaria! "Geld"

Marine Girls "A Place in the Sun"

Martha and the Muffins "Echo Beach"

"White Mice" 

Penetration "Don't Dictate"

Pusallama "Devil Lives in My Husband's Body"

Pylon "Crazy" (slideshow)

Romeo Void "Never Say Never"

The Slits "Typical Girls"

Stinky Toys "Birthday Party"

Suburban Lawns "Janitor"

Tappi Tíkarrass "Dúkkulísur"

UT "Sham Shack" (audio only)

Y Pants "Favorite Sweater" (audio only)

Young Marble Giants "Colossal Youth" (audio only)

Apologies to Cambridge Apostles, Dominatrix, Kleenex/Liliput, The Raincoats, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and Uknown Gender, whose fans have sadly chosen to disable embedding...

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking paid writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in generating advertorials, cranking out clickbait, or laboring away in a listicle mill “for exposure.”
Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft ContemporaryForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRWWhich Way, LA?, at Emerson College, and the University of Southern California.
Brightwell is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaDuolingoFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubiand Twitter.

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1980s (52), Post-punk (11), 1970s (45), New Wave (19), Punk (72), Rock Music (3), Women's History Month (41), No Wave (5)