Music Monday: X-Ray Spex “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!”

Egged on by the criminally overlooked sub-reddit ‘atheist music‘, I’ve decided to do these weekly posts. I’m starting with a short-lived first wave punk, and chaotic feminist voice – the late great Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex. She was vehemently opposed to bondage in all forms, and playfully used thematic elements of BDSM to apply to women’s struggle for equality, against government oppression and against religion.

www.youtube.com/embed/b6BHh_0pX_4?

Sadly, later she went on to become intensely religious as a Hare Krishna. It’s difficult to tell, but she seemed to break out of that bondage too. By the end of her life she was using her punk rock notoriety to attack racism and capitalist greed over musician’s royalties. Her breast cancer had metastasized by the time it was discovered.

www.youtube.com/embed/0ux0vCswrDU?

After watching a very early gig by the Sex Pistols in an empty hall on Hastings Pier, playing a set of cover songs, she thought that anyone could do what they were doing and so decided to put an ad in the paper for ‘young punx who want to stick it together’ to form a band. So it was that, as Poly Styrene, the singer with X-Ray Spex, she was described by Billboard as the “archetype for the modern-day feminist punk”; because she wore dental braces, stood against the typical sex object female of 1970s rock star, sported a gaudy Dayglo wardrobe, and was of mixed race, she was “one of the least conventional front-persons in rock history, male or female”.

Oh Cancer, up yours!

Poly Styrene – aka Marianne Joan Elliott-Said (1957 – 2011)

(Lyrics below the fold)

Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard

But i think…

Oh Bondage Up Yours!

One, Two, Three, FOUR!

Bind me tie me

Chain me to the wall I wanna be a slave

For you all

Oh bondage up yours

Oh bondage no more

Oh bondage up yours

Oh bondage no more

Chain-store chain-smoke

I consume you all

Chain-gang chain-mail

I don’t think at all

Oh bondage up yours

Oh bondage no more

Oh bondage up yours

Oh bondage no more

Thrash me crash me

Beat me till I fall

I wanna be a victim

For you all

Oh bondage up yours

Oh bondage no more

About Justin Griffith
  • http://www.facebook.com/UnWhollyOne timbrent

    Thanks Justin. I’d never heard of her, but I knew the song as covered by Heavens to Betsy in the early 90s. I can definitely see where Corin Tucker (later of Sleater-Kinney fame) got her vocal inspiration.

  • Justin Griffith

    Sleater-Kinney is one of my all-time faves. I learned entry-level feminism from SK and Bikini Kill. Mad props.

  • Justin Griffith

    Also worth perusing, Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) side project, Free Kitten covering this song.

  • GMM

    Awesome, I love Poly.

  • Emburii

    Justin:

    Thank you for your cool links, your passion, and your activism. Thanks for being an awesome voice, especially here at FTB. Your efforts and you are appreciated, and I hope letting you know this brightens your day up at least a little.

  • julian

    So…I said I wouldn’t apologize for my trolling and abusive behavior in The Pit thread… but half a bottle of Bacardi later and I still feel like an ass for sabotaging a great conversation you were trying to have.

    My bad, and I’ll limit my activity on your blog should another topic pop up (which I understand is unlikely thanks to, partly, the way I acted there.)

    Hope you have a good 4th of July, Sgt.

  • julian

    As you were. Disregard my last.

    Just had a visit to ERV. Meant to apologize. Remembered why I hate everyone there.

    I’d love to keep ‘conversing’ with them. But scienceblogs keeps eating my comments. So yeah.

    I no longer feel like ass or as if I have anything to apologize over.

    Place just kinda has that effect on people.

  • tealviolence

    Ah, and I know what Sleater-kinney may refer to. Also the early day of Subpop and seeing a Buthole Surfers video on TV. Yes, Seattle in the early ’80′s.

  • Justin Griffith

    LOL Julian “As you were”…

    That post was indeed a plea for peace. The comment section, however, was never supposed to be a spot for that peace to be worked out – it should’ve been posted with comments disabled.

    See you at RBB2.

  • Chris

    Nice. I still have the 7″ of this. X-Ray Spex aren’t as well known as they should be.


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