Ruth Miller of PO! and Polly Hancock Of The Popinjays Are Bringing A Woman’s Perspective To Punk

We welcome a new link to the sidebar today with PunkGirlDiaries getting the attention that they quite frankly have merited for months now, but I am so behind in writing posts. I first encountered them when Punkgirldiarist linked to a post I had written about The Invaders and Soo Catwoman. When I followed the link back to the source I was amazed to discover that Punkgirldiarist was Polly Hancock, the guitarist for The Popinjays, a band whom I seriously purchased after seeing their fantastic video for “Vote Elvis!” on 120 Minutes back in 1991 at the tail end of my TV viewing days. I loved The Popinjays and have all three of their fine albums and as many singles as came near my grasp. Intrigued, I dove into the PunkGirlDiaries world and discovered that they are virtually alone in providing an important look at how the catalyst of Punk Rock effected the world of young women of the era.

That’s right! The web is positively awash in music obsessed men reliving the glory of the Punk Rock [or Post-Punk, harrumph!] to their almost 100% male blog audience, but here were two women, of close to my age [I’m guessing here they are a little younger] discussing what it was like to be two young girls who were present when the freight train of Punk Rock came barreling through, disrupting the carefully stratified Rock Hegemony®. The blog was began as a daily exercise by Ruth Miller of the indie band PO! and Polly Hancock of The Popinjays. I was not familiar with the music of Ms. Miller, but I need to rectify that soon. Polly Hancock I had three albums by. They trade off on posting and they have apparently begun the exercise as a project to last all of this year, but I hope to see them persist a while longer.

L-R: Ruth Miller in a rare meeting with Polly Hancock

It’s exciting to see the blog not only specifically discuss women who were central to Punk, but the larger culture of the time in Britain that was pitched to young women by the patriarchy of the day. A world of Jackie Magazine [analogous to Seventeen Magazine in the US] where makeup tips rubbed elbows with the latest pin up idols. All very much past its sell-by date as of 1977 and a world of gobbing, squatting, and personal empowerment as women joined with men in picking up guitars and having a go at making their own music and tearing down the star system.

What I especially love about the blog is the detail about items peripheral to music but nevertheless informed by it. How it was like to dress defiantly and try to leave the home without getting stopped by one’s parents. What is was like coloring their hair any shade of the spectrum once girls could see a future beyond blonde. If this is indeed only a blog that lasts a year, one hopes that they will compile and edit the postings into a wonderful book which will hopefully inform and inspire young women to forge their own way in music and anything else!

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About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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8 Responses to Ruth Miller of PO! and Polly Hancock Of The Popinjays Are Bringing A Woman’s Perspective To Punk

  1. Tim says:

    Tracy Thorne’s book “Bedsit Disco Queen” is a must read for similar territory.

    There’s also a history of disco in the US, I believe it is called “Hot Stuff,” great read, written by a woman who DJ’ed in Ann Arbor (IIRC) in the 1970’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim says:

    I think she has written two, I’ve only read BDQ and it is great. It’s pretty warts and all and does a good job describing the world of Hull, life as a teenager and breaking into the record industry as lived in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Ben has one, too, which I haven’t read, I think it is mostly about his near terminal illness, which Tracey ably covers in her own tome.

    It even cleared up a mystery for me, I remember not long after I bought my first computer and was exploring pretty much everything on line and finding their site, there was times when the forum was down and I don’t remember how they phrased it but it basically had to do with civility. Apparently there was a point in her career arc where she really wanted to have children and they went that route and some of the fanbase thought that her husband was running her life and things must have gotten out of hand on the comment boards.

    I’ve read in the past year probably half a dozen books by musicians that I like and hers is head and shoulders above the rest and was an absolute pleasure to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – The OMD forum [recently tabled from the site revamp, but it still works and is out there] had a stretch near the end where trolls [using a false identity] were ragging on OMD for playing nostalgia shows at Butlins Resorts. Not very cool, yeah… but yow. That one I linked to has Heaven 17, Altered Images, and The Blow Monkeys playing the same weekend! Tempting, though yes, it’s uncool as gigs go. One can always decline to attend but some trolls were unceasing in their barrage of negativity and truth be told, that was when the OMD forum died. I stopped going there because of that. I used to go their daily. It was a fun place. Andy was as patient and compassionate as possible with the arch troll [he was very mature about it] but the damage was done. When OMD rebooted their site for the new album there was no forum. Why should they pay to maintain one [it’s certainly not free] only to have trolls insult them on their dime? I would never heap negativity on an artist even if I strongly disagreed with their artistic direction in their home. Certainly not their website either. Trolling sucks and is just a side effect of the deeper psychological issues that cause people to troll in any case.

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  3. It should be noted that Tracey is not completely lost to EDM like Ben, though she worked with him through EBTG’s dance era and continues to work with him on occasion. Her most recent solo album (Record, released just this past March) and earlier solo works are mostly still interesting if you like her low-key style.

    I always thought she would have made an interesting partner to the fellows from The Beautiful South or just Paul Heaton (though his recent work with Jacqui Abbott, one of several female vocalists for TBS) is also very good if you like that sort of thing.

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    • Tim says:

      I love me some Beautiful South/Paul Heaton but have found them wanting since Painting It Red. Do you have any endorsements for material by them after that point? (you can disinclude the first Biscuit Boy lp from that range, have it already).

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  4. Oops, I meant to add a PS expressing my strong support for any and all love given to the Popinjays! I’m a sucker for ScotPop™ bands, especially those with female singers (see also; Camera Obscura), so I’m excited to hear of this project and yes, I’m sure they are aiming to turn that into a book.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvoctoria – Yeah. I’m a sucker for ScotPop™ as well, but Wendy Robinson [accent aside] was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. [Formed in London in 1988 by songwriters Wendy Robinson (b. 6 April 1964, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England; vocals), Polly Hancock (b. 16 July 1964, Berkshire, England; guitar/vocals) and a drum machine]

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