Space to play
The sound of British female punk music and its engagement with reggae in the 1970s
Keywords:punk, Rastafarianism, women instrumentalists, bass playing, gender and popular music
British punk in the 1970s gave young women in the subculture the opportunity to play rock instruments that had previously been played by young men. They often learned to play through using reggae records, because the defined production made it easy to hear individual instruments. Much of 1970s reggae underlined Rastafarian principles regarding women’s behaviour, but these women ignored this aspect of the music and listened out for the sonic qualities of reggae. This article examines this apparent anomaly, noting a common purpose in the resistant musical activities of (especially women) punks and Rastas despite differences in culture and privilege between the two communities. New interviews by the author with Gina Birch from the Raincoats, and Tessa Pollitt from the Slits, are included to provide a retrospective viewpoint on this phenomenon.
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