Strawberry Switchblade

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Strawberry Switchblade
Strawberry Switchblade.JPG
Strawberry Switchblade:
Rose McDowall (left) and Jill Bryson (right).
Background information
Genres Pop rock, new wave,[1] bubblegum[1]
Years active 1981–1986
Labels WEA, Korova
Website Fan Website
Past members Jill Bryson
Rose McDowall

Strawberry Switchblade was a female pop rock/new wave band formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1981 by Jill Bryson and Rose McDowall, best known for their song "Since Yesterday" in 1985.

History[edit]

Before being signed[edit]

The punk movement expanded rapidly in the United Kingdom in 1976. At the time, Rose McDowall and Jill Bryson were classic[vague] Glasgow punks. As the punk rock scene electrified Glasgow in the late '70s, they were a part of the bohemian art scene who adored the New York Dolls and who followed Scottish punk band Nu-Sonics during their career, with McDowall playing and recording with Paisley punk band The Poems.[2]

Bryson studied for four years at the Glasgow School of Art where she achieved a BA honours degree in mixed media.

As friends, McDowall and Bryson socialised in Glasgow pubs, catching many local bands at the time. One of these bands was Orange Juice, fronted by Edwyn Collins. Members of New Pop and Orange Juice had recorded a live version of "Felicity" as a flexi-disc and intended to release it. A fanzine, to be titled Strawberry Switchblade after a James Kirk song, was planned to promote the flexi-disc but never materialised. The "Felicity" flexi-disc was eventually released in conjunction with the debut Orange Juice single, "Falling and Laughing". McDowall and Bryson adopted the fanzine title as their band name.

Strawberry Switchblade played at a John Peel gig in Scotland, and he invited them to record a session for his BBC Radio 1 show in October 1982.[3] They also recorded a session for David Jensen's Radio 1 show three days later. On both sessions the band were augmented by James Kirk from Orange Juice on bass and Shahid Sarwar from The Recognitions on drums.

Early days making records[edit]

The sessions were heard by Bill Drummond (a Scottish musician who went on to form The KLF) and David Balfe, respectively manager and keyboard player with the recently defunct The Teardrop Explodes, who became the group's managers.[4]

The band's first single, "Trees and Flowers", was released in July 1983 through 92 Happy Customers, an independent record label run by Will Sergeant from Echo & The Bunnymen,[4] and sold over 10,000 copies. It was featured at number 47 in John Peel's 1983 Festive 50.[3] "Trees and Flowers" was written by Bryson about her medical condition agoraphobia.[2]

Drummond signed the band to Warner Music Group subsidiary Korova in 1983. They got a full backing band with whom they toured and began recording an album with producer Robin Millar. However, at the record company's behest, they reverted to the duo of Bryson and McDowall and for production duties they hired David Motion, who would soon go on to produce hits for Red Box.[5]

Since Yesterday[edit]

In late 1984 their second single, "Since Yesterday", was released. Having been given a large marketing push over the festive period, it became a UK top ten hit in early 1985, peaking at number 5, and also met with success in Europe and Japan.

Their cover version of "Sunday Morning" (originally by Velvet Underground) was released as an extra track on the 12" of "Since Yesterday". It was not included on any of the Strawberry Switchblade albums.

The track's opening fanfare came from Sibelius' Symphony No. 5, which had also featured prominently in the coda section of the earlier hit "Beach Baby" by The First Class. The band's' strikingly contrasting black and white wardrobe, including the polka dot rah-rah skirts worn for the sleeve of "Since Yesterday", attracted coverage at the time.[citation needed] Their somewhat 'gothic' appearance was also of note.[citation needed]

Later records[edit]

Jill Bryson in 2012

In March 1985 they released their next single, "Let Her Go", a tune in a similar vein to "Since Yesterday".

Following the release of their eponymous album in April, in May 1985 they released a further single, the ballad "Who Knows What Love Is",[6] one of two tracks on the album produced by Phil Thornalley of The Cure.[7]

Their fifth single, an electro-pop cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene", was issued in September 1985 in the UK and Japan.[6]

Although their commercial success had waned in the UK they remained popular in Japan and two later singles, "Ecstasy (Apple of My Eye)" and "I Can Feel", were only issued in that country.[6] The second of these only featured McDowall as by this time the partnership had irreparably fractured. By early 1986, the group had disbanded.

In December 2005, Warner Bros. Platinum Records released a career retrospective of the band, made up of sixteen different tracks from various recordings on one compact disc.[8]

Solo work[edit]

Rose McDowall continued in music, playing with many industrial folk music bands.

In July 2013, after a break of almost 30 years from music, Bryson returned to songwriting in a new band called The Shapists.[citation needed]

Discography[edit]

Strawberry Switchblade discography
Releases
Studio albums 1
Compilation albums 2
Singles 7
B-sides 11
Music videos 4

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Chart positions
U.K. [9][10]
1985 Strawberry Switchblade
  • Released: April 1985 (expanded edition released in Japan, 1997)
  • Label: Korova / WEA
25

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album details
1985 The 12" Album
  • Released: 1985 (originally Japan only, Issued on CD in Canada, 1995)
  • Label: Warner-Pioneer Corporation
2005 The Platinum Collection
  • Released: December 2005
  • Label: Warner Platinum

Singles[edit]

Year Title Album Chart positions
U.K.
[9][10]
U.K. Indie
[11]
IRL
[12]
NL
[13]
1983 "Trees and Flowers" 3
1984 "Since Yesterday" Strawberry Switchblade 5 6 24
1985 "Let Her Go" 59
"Who Knows What Love Is?" 84
"Ecstasy (Apple of My Eye)" (released in Japan only)
"Jolene" 53
1986 "I Can Feel" (released in Japan only)
"–" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

B-sides[edit]

  • "Go Away" (1983)
  • "Trees and Flowers (Just Music)" (1983)
  • "By the Sea" (1984)
  • "Sunday Morning" (1984)
  • "Beautiful End" (1985)
  • "Michael Who Walks By Night" (1985)
  • "Poor Hearts" (1985)
  • "Let Her Go (Kitchensynch Mix-Up)" (1985)
  • "Black Taxi" (1985)
  • "Jolene (Extended Mix)" (1985)
  • "Being Cold" (1985)

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Director
1984 "Since Yesterday" Tim Pope
1985 "Let Her Go"
"Who Knows What Love Is?"
"Jolene"

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Strawberry Switchblade Album review Allmusic
  2. ^ a b Strawberry Switchblade essay by Alistair Fitchett
  3. ^ a b "BBC - Radio 1 - Keeping It Peel - Strawberry Switchblade". BBC. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Strawberry Switchblade - Bill Drummond interview". StrawberrySwitchblade.net. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "Strawberry Switchblade - complete interviews, by subject: Recording the album". StrawberrySwitchblade.net. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c "Strawberry Switchblade - singles discography". StrawberrySwitchblade.net. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Strawberry Switchblade - complete interviews, by subject: Recording the album iv". StrawberrySwitchblade.net. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  8. ^ "Strawberry Switchblade - albums discography". StrawberrySwitchblade.net. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "Chart Stats - Strawberry Switchblade". chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  10. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 535. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  11. ^ "Indie Hits "S"". Cherry Red Records. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  12. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". © IRMA 2006 - 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  13. ^ "dutchcharts.nl - Strawberry Switchblade - Since Yesterday". © 2006-2009 Hung Medien / hitparade.ch. Retrieved 2009-11-10.