Friday, August 21, 2020

Song of the Day: 'It's Obvious' by the Au Pairs

The Au Pairs were one of those out-of-reach artists I grew up hearing about in the British press, along with A Certain Ratio, the Monochrome Set and Cabaret Voltaire. Their names constantly appeared on the pages of NME and Melody Maker and in my Rock Yearbooks. But with no songs on U.S. radio or videos on MTV -- and no allowance and babysitting jobs that paid $1 an hour -- it was virtually impossible to know what they sounded like. Perhaps this is part of the reason why I have virtually no space in  my brain for actually new music -- too busy playing catch up from the the post-punk era on.

The closest I came to the Au Pairs was during their brief performance of "Come Again" in "Urgh! A Music War." Although my brother Bill brought home a review copy of the soundtrack during his summer internship at the Phoenix Gazette, no further Au Pairs purchases followed. (With songs by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Magazine, the Go-Go's, Toyah Willcox, the Fleshtones, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, X, XTC, Devo, the Cramps, Oingo Boingo, Dead Kennedys, Gary Numan, Klaus Nomi, Wall of Voodoo, Pere Ubu, Steel Pulse, Surf Punks, 999, the Alley Cats, UB40, Echo & the Bunnymen and the Police, there was a lot to unpack there!)

But the Au Pairs were definitely a band I would have enjoyed contemporaneously. Formed in Birmingham in 1978 and fronted by the gifted feminist Lesley Woods, the Guardian said their songs have "contempt for the cliches of contemporary sexual politics" while the New York Times compared their sound to Gang of Four and the Young Marble Giants.

Today's pick is "It's Obvious," a 1980 single that actually hit No. 37 on the U,S, Billboard Club Play Singles charts It's just one of several songs that I am kicking myself over for not including on my list of forgotten gems by women-led new wave bands.


Patrick said...

I think the lead singer is now a judge in the UK

tmpr said...

Love it! Thanks! I’ve downloaded the album and I know exactly what you mean about catching up.