I discovered that this morning while reading a link to the Birmingham Mail that Jo Dunne, the guitarist for We’ve Got A Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It! has just died after a shockingly brief bout of cancer at the age of 43. Apparently, she went to her physician complaining about back pain and six weeks later she died! She and her sister Maggie were half of the band who burst on the C-86 scene like a technicolor burst of snotty punk attitude. Their early records on Vindaloo were pretty amazing!
I had read about the band and their name was so evocative, that I blind ordered their 7″ers from a mail order record catalog of imports that was how we got things done in the pre-internet era. Heck, That even predated my usage of Goldmine Magazine and their vision-destroying display ads of the same. When I played the record I wasn’t disappointed! They offered miles of punk attitude, liberally laced with feminist ideals, and yes, Jo played the buzzpunk guitar lines that were thoroughly fuzzed to the max! Their debut album, “Bostin’ Steve Austin” remains criminally unissued on the compact disc medium. I suppose it remains for me to do the dirty work.
A massive sea change in the band came with their second album, “Big Bang.” It remains perhaps the largest volte-face I’ve ever heard a band make as they traded in their gleeful [if barbed] teenaged anarchy for buttoned down “professional” music that was made for them by other hands. Then the image goons got ahold of them and tried to turn them into a product. Even then, Jo retained her dignity on the sleeve of their cover of Yoko Ono’s “Walking On Thin Ice.”
That record sold, but the process split the band apart, with the group rupturing by 1990, four years later. Vickie Perks, having been groomed for stardom, maintained a solo career. I’ve heard that Jo’s sister Maggie Dunne was active in a lineup of Babes In Toyland [!] but I’m having trouble corroborating this meme. The group had reconvened sans drummer Tina O’Neill in recent years, but the only output has been a cover of M’s “Pop Muzik” as a download on iTunes. I’m surprised to see that it’s available in America. If you have it, pull out your etched 12″ of “Rules + Regulations” and play it tonight and think of Jo.
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