Quirk Your Enthusiasm (15)

By: Mimi Lipson
August 15, 2016

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One of 25 installments in a series of posts analyzing and celebrating a few of our favorite New Wave songs from c. 1977–1982. Josh Glenn’s series introduction is here, and you can listen to the QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM playlist here. Enjoy!

“HOW COME YOU’RE SUCH A HIT WITH THE BOYS, JANE?” | DOLLY MIXTURE | 1980–1981

What is dolly mixture, besides (according to Wikipedia) “a British confection, consisting of a variety of multi-coloured fondant shapes, such as cubes and cylinders?” What are the “subtle flavourings” of these “small soft sweets and sugar-coated jellies?”

What of our Dolly Mixture, the English pop trio? What of Debsey Wykes, Rachel Bor, and Hester Smith, who met as teenagers in Cambridge in 1978? How could it be that they made the scene for six years with that deep, deep catalog of dreamy, hooky songs, each one a fondant of subtle flavourings, and yet failed to grab the brass ring? Were they New Wave? Is it enough to say that they had attitude, and sometimes menace? Does it matter, given that they could blend their voices into ethereal ribbon candy or oceanic sadness?

“How Come You’re Such A Hit With The Boys, Jane?”

Was this song a toss-off about Jane Crockford, bass player for the Mo-Dettes? Is it the cutest? After the sulky, provocative question, do the guitar and drums go bam bam bam like the Undertones? Do the voices chime and echo? Does even the bass line chime? Is the sweetness a rebuke to Jane, that phony, who’s on the make with her little girl voice? Are Debsey’s warm, melancholy round-the-way vocals reminiscent of Mary Weiss, and is the talk-in-the-middle pure Shangri-Las?

— Make no mistake, she’ll spread it around.

— Whoa!

Can you be kittenish and tough at once? Is this song twee? Well, have you seen Crockford’s actual eyebrows, and considered that “the boys” presumably included her onetime roommate Sid Vicious?

Now will you please go listen to “Everything and More,” and all of Dolly Mixture’s other criminally overlooked songs?

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QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Mark Kingwell on Soft Cell’s TAINTED LOVE | Joanne McNeil on Gary Numan’s METAL | Devin McKinney on Suicide’s FRANKIE TEARDROP | Douglas Wolk on Family Fodder’s SAVOIR FAIRE | Elina Shatkin on Marianne Faithfull’s BROKEN ENGLISH | Steph Burt on Altered Images’ HAPPY BIRTHDAY | Greg Rowland on Jilted John’s JILTED JOHN | Gordon Dahlquist on XTC’s RESPECTABLE STREET | Adrienne Crew on D-Day’s TOO YOUNG TO DATE | Jonathan Lethem on The Blue Nile’s I LOVE THIS LIFE | Josh Glenn on Tim Curry’s I DO THE ROCK | Molly Wright Steenson on Missing Persons’ WORDS | Anthony Miller on The Nails’ 88 LINES ABOUT 44 WOMEN | Luc Sante on The Normal’s WARM LEATHERETTE | Mimi Lipson on Dolly Mixture’s HOW COME YOU’RE SUCH A HIT WITH THE BOYS, JANE? | Tim Carmody on Talking Heads’ LIFE DURING WARTIME | Ingrid Schorr on Ian Dury’s CLEVOR TREVER | Adam McGovern on Lene Lovich’s LUCKY NUMBER | Deb Chachra on Rough Trade’s HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL | Tor Aarestad on Oingo Boingo’s LITTLE GIRLS | David Smay on The B-52’s’ DANCE THIS MESS AROUND | Jessamyn West on Blondie’s HANGING ON THE TELEPHONE | Drew Daniel on The Human League’s MARIANNE | Erik Davis on Tuxedomoon’s TIME TO LOSE | Dan Fox on Thomas Dolby’s EUROPA & THE PIRATE TWINS.

NEW WAVE HILO HEROES: Debbie Harry | Marianne Faithfull | Grace Jones | Ian Dury | Mark Mothersbaugh | Plastic Bertrand | Tim Curry | Kate Pierson | Green Gartside | David Byrne.

MORE ENTHUSIASM SERIES at HILOBROW

KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): TBD | #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other new wave songs. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other fantasy novels from 1934–43. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other old-school hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.

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Enthusiasms, Music, Pop Music

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