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Au Pairs

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Biography

Birmingham, United Kingdom (1979 – 1983)

The Au Pairs were a post-punk band who formed in Birmingham, UK in 1979. Musically they were very similar to bands such as Ludus, Gang of Four and Delta 5. That is, the rhythm section was tight and funky (obvious influences were James Brown and Funkadelic), but the guitars were light and “scratchy” (like Subway Sect). All these bands shared a strongly left wing social outlook, but the Au Pairs stood out due to their frontwoman, Lesley Woods, being an outspoken feminist and lesbian: the band were greatly influential in this respect on the riot grrrl movement a decade later. Music historian Gillian G. Gaar noted in her history of women in rock that the band mingled male and female musicians in a revolutionary collaborative way as part of its outspoken explorations of sexual politics.

Their first album Playing With a Different Sex is considered a post-punk classic with strong, sarcastic songs like “It’s Obvious” and “We’re So Cool” taking a dry look at gender relations. Other songs, such as “Armagh” with its refrain,”we don’t torture” took a pro-republican look at the then ongoing “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, which caused some controversy at the time.

The band’s second album, Sense And Sensuality, showed an even greater influence of jazz, soul, funk and disco on the band’s sound, but was less well received. The band broke up in 1983 just before they were about to go into the studio to record an album with producer Steve Lillywhite. Woods formed an all woman band called the Darlings in the late ’80s, but then left the music industry.

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  • MuseumsAreDead

    Really, really love this band. Drastic Plastic's vinyl reissue of Playing With A Different Sex is amazing.

    2 Jan 10:32pm Reply
  • wiseblood-

    DAT GROOVE

    17 Aug 2014 Reply
  • scatteredshadow

    Even as a huge fan of Wire, Mekons and Gang of Four, somehow I'd missed out on Au Pairs until I bought 'Stepping Out of Line' as a blind purchase. It's turned out to be my favorite music pick up of the year so far. It's hard to believe they aren't better known, considering they are accessible, energetic, technically proficient, have a strong lead singer, but still have a distinct style and point of view. Now that I know their music, I wouldn't mistake them for any other band. Thirty years on, they sound fresh. TL;DR - Fucking bad ass, get it!

    1 Jun 2014 Reply
  • Amrabart

    lovely stuff

    11 Mar 2014 Reply
  • wwemmi

    playing with a different sex has pretty much the coolest basslines i've ever heard

    18 Feb 2014 Reply
  • RussellChap

    No fun

    11 Feb 2014 Reply
  • rhinowing

    this is really fucking good

    6 Jan 2014 Reply
  • Skygazer1

    Fucking need their vinyl.

    2 Feb 2013 Reply
  • xAquinoNetox

    ♡Au Pairs

    27 Oct 2012 Reply
  • gutterdancer

    @super-chicken your avatar works perfect with "It's Obvious".

    19 Jan 2012 Reply
  • super-chicken

    this really was a love at first listen [2]

    14 Jan 2012 Reply
  • siandoll

    Love Song! ''Send me an orchid on Valentines daaaaaaay...what more need you to say?'' lush band.

    24 Dec 2011 Reply
  • Sonicjr01

    Set Up ! ... (Reserved) Up set ...

    6 Dec 2011 Reply
  • hookbags

    Bonza!

    13 Sep 2011 Reply
  • I928

    ♡.♡

    19 Apr 2011 Reply
  • Nastya-Pop

    20 Mar 2011 Reply
  • HartC0F

    Epic, really epic.

    7 Jan 2011 Reply
  • SOLOMUSIKA

    indeed ... ♥ ))

    15 Dec 2010 Reply
  • lizvelrene

    I'm like obsessed.

    14 Dec 2010 Reply
  • lizvelrene

    Jane = most underrated bass player ever. One of the best.

    2 Dec 2010 Reply
  • All 82 shouts

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