Betty Davis


One of the best things about working in a library is that even the most tedious projects, like changing the labeling system of the entire CD collection, include the potential to unearth really interesting items.

While lost in the repetitive task of relabeling the D section of our pop collection, I was jolted form the monotony by the cover of this Betty Davis album. Who is this sassy woman in the platform boots?! Why haven’t I heard of her? I had to borrow the CD and find out.

Who she is– Um, probably the funkiest, sexiest woman in rock history! Her lyrics are smart and confrontational;  she’s not afraid to do crazy things with her voice; her grooves are SO funky.  What is most striking about the music is its fearlessly and unapologetically unladylike quality.

It turns out that she’s also the ex-wife of Miles Davis.  (She wrote an amazing, though not particularly flattering, song about him called “He Was a Big Freak” which is not on this album, but is a must-listen.)

Why I hadn’t heard of her– Although I’m embarrassed by this hole in my musical education, I gather that her overt sexuality kept her from having mainstream success. She was a woman ahead of her time.

My record collector friends tell me that crate diggers are always on the lookout for her albums.. Until I can get my hands on an LP for myself, I am thankful to have the library’s CD to borrow!

-Lauren Moore

Alexis Brown


This is one of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken at a show. I feel so lucky to have gotten it ♥

Tina Turner


Amalie R Rothschild took this picture of Tina Turner in 1970 at NYCs Filmore East. “I was rarely satisfied with single frames as I feel the energy comes through better in sequences,” she says. “This picture is a triple composition I put together in Photoshop and which I think captures something of her amazing stage presence.”

Poly Styrene


Weird and Wonderful Women Musicians

(Who Eat Lady Gaga For Breakfast)

Poly Styrene

Bands & Projects: X Ray Spex

Time and Place:1970s London

Genres: Punk

Quote: If anybody tried to make me [a sex symbol] I’d shave my head tomorrow.

Poly Styrene was barely twenty-one when her band, X Ray Spex, released their only album, Germfree Adolescents. The lyrics, written by Styrene, confronted consumerism, ageism, human relationships and “the sales machine.”

Sartorial Style: Poly Styrene ran her own, eponymous fashion label in her late teens. It failed to break even or get off the ground; however, she had a lot of fun with it and created very interesting clothes. From an interview:

I would go to the DIY store and buy sink chain, which doesn’t tarnish and is quite shiny and chrome plated. I would also buy plastic tubing and then I would run the sink through the plastic tubing, and turn them into chokers and ankle and arm bracelets. It was funny, because I had people like Marianne Faithfull, Amanda Donohoe and Paula Yates coming in and buying them. I am sure that they didn’t know that I had bought it at the DIY store…

One of my friends, Sophie Horgan, was at fashion school. I designed some things and she made them for me. There was an eggs and bacon dress, which we did just for a laugh. We went down to Peter Jones and I bought some vinyl table cloth fabric. I then asked Sophie to applique an eggs and bacon design like a working man’s greasy fry up on it. I thought that it would be funny to put it on a dress, especially as I was a vegetarian and I didn’t eat stuff like that. (source)

Styrene closed down the boutique, since the band was taking off and she had to choose one or the other. But her fashion sense didn’t just stop on a dime once she took up with the band. Press photos and videos from that time show Styrene wearing proto-Ghost World outfits, such as a bright blue pantsuit, army helmets, black leather soldier’s caps, and handmade, A-Line dresses in interesting patterned and shiny fabrics.

Styrene had an afro, which she accessorized with hats, helmets, head wraps and ribbons.

Styrene’s most famous accessories were doubtless her braces. Though in her late teens and early twenties, Styrene’s braces made her look much younger and, somehow, more threatening.

Quote from “Where are the Black Female Rock Stars?”

To that effect, black female artists exhibiting more rebellious styles are consequently shunned by black audiences for being “too weird,” and ignored by other audiences as not being authentic rock musicians. This is where the Afro-punk movement comes in: a blindingly boisterous collection of musicians whose general style makes them “misfits of society.” However, in the eyes of many, their style of dress and sound simply makes them copycats of white musicians. In other words, with the argument that rock music originated with people of color, some believe that black females choosing to go the Afro-punk route are ultimately suppressing their African-American roots. This has created a Catch-22 of sorts, with black female artists wondering how to be seen as true rock musicians if their work is constantly pigeon-holed into other categories.

Where Are the Black Female Rock Stars? – Associated Content

This article is very well written, and thought provoking. It bluntly addresses a lot of the issues with being not only female, but also a Black person in the world of rock music.

(via blackwomenwhorock)

(via oddityofcommodity)

Poly Styrene


Day 53: Continuing from yesterday, X-ray Spex were also on this mysterious punk mix. Fronted by Poly Styrene, the band also had a sax player! Up Yours Bondage is probably their best known song.