Strawberry Switchblade

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Strawberry Switchblade
Strawberry Switchblade: Rose McDowall (left) and Jill Bryson (right).
Strawberry Switchblade:
Rose McDowall (left) and Jill Bryson (right).
Background information
OriginGlasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Years active1981–1986
LabelsWEA, Korova
Past membersJill Bryson
Rose McDowall

Strawberry Switchblade were a Scottish new wave/pop duo formed in Glasgow in 1981 by Jill Bryson and Rose McDowall, best known for their song "Since Yesterday" from 1985, and their flamboyant clothing with bows and polka-dots.[3]


Before being signed[edit]

The punk movement expanded rapidly in the United Kingdom in 1976. At the time, Rose McDowall and Jill Bryson were part of the bohemian art scene who adored the New York Dolls and who followed Scottish punk band Nu-Sonics (later Orange Juice) during their career, with McDowall playing and recording with Paisley punk band The Poems.[4]

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 was later given the name by James Kirk.

The band's very first incarnation, an all-female 4 piece, recorded one demo at Glasgow's Hellfire Club and played a handful of gigs. Friends Janice Goodlett and Carole McGowan completed the line up on bass and drums respectively.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

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,[7] and sold over 10,000 copies. It was featured at number 47 in John Peel's 1983 Festive 50.[6] "Trees and Flowers" was written by Bryson about her anxiety disorder, agoraphobia.[4]

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.[8]

"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 the third movement of Sibelius's Symphony No. 5.

Later records[edit]

Jill Bryson in 2012

In March 1985 they released their next single, "Let Her Go".

Following the release of their eponymous album in April, in May 1985 they released a further single, the ballad "Who Knows What Love Is",[9] one of two tracks on the album produced by Phil Thornalley of The Cure.[10]

Their fifth single, an electro-pop cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene", was issued in September 1985 in the UK and Japan.[9]

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.[9] 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.[11]

Solo work[edit]

McDowall continued in music, playing with many neofolk bands and performing in and around Glasgow, alongside old and new friends associated with her current representation, Night School Records – such as Michael Kasparis; Proficient Celloist Jo Quail and her son, Bobi Lee.

In July 2013, after a break of almost 30 years from music, Bryson returned to songwriting in a new band called The Shapists (named after the fictitious art movement in the film The Rebel), that includes her daughter Jessie Frost.[12][13]


Strawberry Switchblade discography
Studio albums1
Compilation albums2
Music videos4

The discography of Strawberry Switchblade consists of one studio album, two compilation albums, one extended play, seven singles, thirteen b-sides and four music videos.

Studio albums[edit]

Year Album details Chart positions
UK[14][15] JP
1985 Strawberry Switchblade
  • Released: April 1985 (expanded edition released in Japan, 1997)
  • Label: Korova / WEA
25 39

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Album details
1985 The 12" Album
  • Released: 28 November 1985 (originally Japan only, Issued on CD in Canada, 1995)
  • Label: Warner-Pioneer Corporation
2005 The Platinum Collection
  • Released: 12 December 2005
  • Label: Warner Platinum

Extended plays[edit]

  • 1982 4-Piece Demo (2017, Night School)


Year Title Album Chart positions
UK Indie
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) The 12" Album 71
"Jolene" 53 90
1986 "I Can Feel" (released in Japan only)
"–" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  • "Go Away" (1983) (B-side of "Trees and Flowers")
  • "Trees and Flowers (Just Music)" (1983) (B-side of "Trees and Flowers")
  • "By the Sea" (1984) (B-side of "Since Yesterday")
  • "Sunday Morning" (1984) (B-side of "Since Yesterday")
  • "Beautiful End" (1985) (B-side of "Let Her Go")
  • "Michael Who Walks By Night" (1985) (B-side of "Let Her Go")
  • "Poor Hearts" (1985) (B-side of "Who Knows What Love Is?")
  • "Let Her Go (Kitchensynch Mix-Up)" (1985) (B-side of "Who Knows What Love Is?")
  • "Being Cold" (1985) (B-side of "Jolene" and "Ecstasy (Apple Of My Eye)")
  • "Black Taxi" (1985) (B-side of "Jolene")
  • "Jolene (Extended Mix)" (1985) (B-side of "Jolene")
  • "Since Yesterday (Extended Mix)" (1986) (B-side of "I Can Feel")

Music videos[edit]

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

Compilation appearances[edit]

  • Scared to Get Happy (A Story of Indie-Pop 1980-1989) (2013, Cherry Red Records) - "Dark 7"


  1. ^ "Strawberry Switchblade's Rose McDowall Unveils Long-Lost New Wave Gem". The FADER.
  2. ^ Strawberry Switchblade Album review AllMusic.
  3. ^ Paul Lester, "Cult heroes: Strawberry Switchblade – the clue was in the name". The Guardian, Tuesday 14 April 2015 [1]
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 January 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "1982 4 Piece Demo". Rough Trade. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  6. ^ a b "BBC – Radio 1 – Keeping It Peel – Strawberry Switchblade". BBC. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Strawberry Switchblade – Bill Drummond interview". Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Strawberry Switchblade – complete interviews, by subject: Recording the album". Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  9. ^ a b c "Strawberry Switchblade – singles discography". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  10. ^ "Strawberry Switchblade – complete interviews, by subject: Recording the album iv". Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  11. ^ "Strawberry Switchblade – albums discography". Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  12. ^ "New music - Jill Bryson's blog and news". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  13. ^ "THE SHAPISTS HOME". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  14. ^ a b "The Official Charts Company – Strawberry Switchblade". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  15. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 535. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  16. ^ "Indie Hits "S"". Cherry Red Records. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  17. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". IRMA 2006 – 2008. Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  18. ^ " – Strawberry Switchblade – Since Yesterday". 2006-2009 Hung Medien / Retrieved 10 November 2009.