The Raincoats: The Raincoats (We Three/Southbound)

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The Raincoats: In Love
The Raincoats: The Raincoats (We Three/Southbound)

I'm pretty sure I shared an elevator with some of the Raincoats at a hotel in New York in the mid Nineties, but I may be wrong. And that's the end of my anecdote.

This is a reissue (The second? Third?) of their important '79 debut album when this London group of Ana da Silva, Gina Birch, Palmolive and Vicky Aspinall were hailed as the first all female post-punk band.

Owing a little to the staccato style of Talking Heads and the energy of the Clash as well as the more experimental bands on the post-punk spectrum, this debut still sounds wickedly fresh and driven by an internal need, has a powerfully untutored quality about it (the primitive percussion, the slightly wobbly vocals) and delivers a series of low punches rather than a knock-out blow.

At the time there was a lot of attention paid to their cover of Ray Davies' Lola but that wasn't what impressed Kurt Cobain who was such a fan that he wrote the liner notes for a reissue (reproduced here, how he feels he's eavesdropping on them) and invited them to open in a Nirvana tour. Unfortunately something happened to him the previous week.

The violin of Aspinall is a key and disturbing ingredient, but also the art of darkness that is throughout (The Void, Fairytale in the Supermarket) which comes with colourings of the pains and uncertainties of love -- which is perhaps why Cobain spoke of feeling like he's hiding in the attic and the band is playing out its music for their own cathartic effect.

Of course the raw footage from the crowd at a show in Poland which comes with the disc shows how they took this noise to the world with unconstrained energy and tight pants. 

This won't be to everyone's taste (you have to like that ragged and anxious end of lo-fi punk) but it certainly reminds you of how inspiration rather than a career move makes for much more interesting music.

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