Thursday, August 30, 2007

Delta 5: Making Feminism Funkier Than Socialism

Not too long ago I made another attempt (this was my third) at putting together a post punk/new wave mix comprised of nothing but funky dance songs. As with my previous attempts, I hit a wall after I picked from the usual suspects (Gang of Four, PiL, The Jam, etc.) and was left wondering if maybe there weren't enough groups from that era to fill out a 60-80 minute playlist (unless I picked multiple songs from every artist, but I try to stay away from that). Of course after using my trusty friend, I quickly learned there were at least several bands I was overlooking simply because I wasn't very familiar with them or I had outright never heard of them before. Delta 5 was one of the bands who fell into the latter category.

Formed in 1979 in Leeds, England, Delta 5 comprised of vocalist/guitarist Julz Sale, vocalist/bassist Ros Allen, vocalist/bassist Bethan Peters, guitarist Alan Briggs and drummer Kelvin Knight. While they stayed together for barely two years, Delta 5 was still able to leave their mark on the Leeds New Wave scene, even if they are often overshadowed by the more distinguished Gang of Four and the Mekons.

Like their Leeds brethren, Delta 5 were a fiercely political outfit, often singing in support of feminist issues and against racism. Songs such as their debut single "Mind Your Own Business" and "Colour" served as announcements that female artists should be taken every bit as serious as their male counterparts. What made them so unique was how undeniably fun their music was to listen to, despite the serious issues they sang about. This was due mostly to the emphasis on heavy bass rhythms found in their songs and the tendency of Sale and Allen to sing in unison. For many fans, this meant not only could they exhibit their solidarity at any of Delta 5's various political benefits and rallies, but they could also dace their asses off.

Since their tenure was so brief Delta 5 was only able to release one album, See The Whirl (long since out of print), before disbanding in 1981. Luckily in 2006 Kill Rock Stars released Singles & Sessions, which collected the band's best singles, B sides, BBC radio sessions and other live performances. I suggest any fan of Gang of Four, the Au Pairs or even more recent dance/pop punk bands like the Pipettes or the Rapture give Delta 5 a listen. I guarantee it is totally up your alley.

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