The Raincoats - S/T
(Kill Rock Stars)
The self-titled, 1979 debut by the Raincoats is perhaps the defining record in the aftermath of the first wave of punk. It ushered in a new brand of punk more focused on DIY nature and experimental sounds and less about aggression and bravado. You can certainly argue that this was the beginning of indie rock as well.
But let’s talk about just how good The Raincoats LP was and is, remaining as fresh today as it was when it hit the English shops in November of 1979. Though they initially were a co-ed group during their first fledgling gigs in 1977, they became a group comprised of women after ex-Slits drummer Palmolive and violinist Vicky Aspinall joined the group at the end of 1978. Helmed by Gina Birch (bass / vocals) and Ana Da Silva (guitar / vocals), The Raincoats released their debut EP in April 1979, Fairytale In The Supermarket, which features the trashy, absolutely perfect title track (that was not included on the original LP by the way). The success of that release led to the self-titled LP from Rough Trade and produced by Mayo Thompson. At that point, The Raincoats were squatting in London with barely a morsel of food to eat or money to speak of. They poured all of their energy into their craft; learning and perfecting their songs and essentially learning the ins and outs of their instruments too. Their rudimentary and crude approach is what makes The Raincoats so unique and singular. The use of Aspinall’s violin, saxophone, Birch’s dubby punk basslines, Da Silva’s angular and scraping guitar and Palmolive’s eccentric approach to drumming put it in another universe. Imagine the English punks witnessing this live? A seemingly passe cover of The Kinks “Lola”? Their choices then, while uncharacteristic, are what make this record standout and it needs to be heard and yes, owned, by anyone looking for an outsiders perspective of punk.
The Raincoats would release another ESSENTIAL record in 1981; the increasingly unusual and experimental Odyshape which went further towards dub, free jazz and the avant-garde with contributions by Robert Wyatt and This Heat’s Charles Hayward. Before you get there, digest and live in the chaotic and homespun joy of The Raincoats. Best thing about this Kill Rock Stars reissue is the inclusion of, and now lead-off cut, “Fairytale In The Supermarket” which deserves to be heard along with all the other incredible cuts such as “Life On The Line”, “Off Duty Trip” and “No Side To Fall In.” Absolute 10 / 10 and ESSENTIAL for people who like music. (Dom)
Check out a track here.