The Dolly Mixture was a British trio that formed in 1979, put out a handful of brilliant singles and one of the most obscure and collectible records of the punk era. The Dolly Mixture was like the Shangri-La's or the Go-Go's if they had any class. Or the Raincoats without the weirdness and electric violins.

Purportedly the girlfriends of the Damned, the Dolly Mixture never took on the studied attitude of the U.K. punk scene. They depicted themselves in cartoons knitting and bike riding--hardly activities any self-respecting punk would be caught dead at. With zest and finesse instead of bray and holler, they resisted the three-chord bash of their contemporaries. They were musically adept and unafraid to haul out the occasional piano or cello accompaniment. They sang about independence long before it was an acknowledged practice. The full-on sass of "How Come You're Such a Hit with the Boys, Jane?" pre-dated riot grrl by a decade.

Dolly Mixture released one album, "Demonstration Tapes - A Double Album", on their own Dead Good Dolly Platters label. Originally released in 1984 as a double album, and packaged in a down-market version of the The Beatles White Album, with autographed and numbered sleeves (mine's 0487), complete with an anonymous white label (but endearingly furnished with a photocopied handwritten and illustrated set list).

Prior to the Demonstration Tapes, the band had released four singles on three labels. Chrysalis had tried to turn them into a bubblegum girlie group, with an almost paedophiliac cover art for their debut single (in retrospect, it was lucky they didn't choose Dead Rainbow as the a-side...). The song, a cover of the Betty Everett hit “Baby, It's You” (CHS2459), was backed by an original, “New Look Baby”. They then released the inaugural single on Paul Weller's Respond label with “Been Teen” (RESP1), produced by the Damned’s Captain Sensible and Paul Gray, with “Honky Honda” and “Ernie Ball” on the b-side. Their second single for Respond was a classic piece of pop, “Everything And More” (RESP4) – again produced by Sensible and Gray.With the b-side to this minor classic displaying the influences of the Shangri-La's (“You And Me And The Seashore”), coupled with the a-side’s exuberant breezy pop, this release encapsulated the quintessential Dolly Mixture sound.

Sticking to their own Dead Good Dollys Platters label, for the time being, and with time running out, they released “Remember This” in 1983. The a-side was a popular choice, pretty much in the same vein as “Everything And More”, but the b-side was a bizarre little piece entitled “Listening Pleasure/Borinda’s Lament” which involved dialogue, (à la Home Service British Force's Radio DJ), a half-finished song (or was that it?) and an instrumental chamber piece with Debsey on piano and Rachel on cello.

Sticking to their own Dead Good Dollys Platters label, for the time being, and with time running out, they released “Remember This” in 1983. The a-side was a popular choice, pretty much in the same vein as “Everything And More”, but the b-side was a bizarre little piece entitled “Listening Pleasure/Borinda’s Lament” which involved dialogue, (à la Home Service British Force's Radio DJ), a half-finished song (or was that it?) and an instrumental chamber piece with Debsey on piano and Rachel on cello.

The latter piece would reappear, and form the basis for the Dolly’s final record. The Fireside EP was released in 1984 on the 12-inch vinyl format on Alan ‘Deep Freeze Mice’ Jenkins', Cordelia label. The six-track ep contained understated little tunes full of warmth and with a gentle quietness evoking a very English evening in the parlour, playing (mostly) instrumental pieces. Interesting (and amusingly) they perform Dolly Medley which is a Stars On 45-style attempt at running through the high-spots of the Dolly’s repertoire. (“Dead Rainbow” is finally committed to vinyl, albeit not in an immediately recognisable form.) To my knowledge, none of these tracks, in this form, were ever performed live. From there, largely and sadly, ignored by the masses, Dolly Mixture disbanded.

After the demise of Dolly Mixture, Debsey and Hester formed Coming Up Roses.


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