Somewhere in the early to mid-eighties, (no one knows exactly when) four dizzy schoolgirls got together and decided to make something of their lives in Birmingham rather than being destined to adorn the boxes at their local Tesco. Sisters Jo and Maggie Dunne (four years older) were eagerly learning to play guitar and bass respectively, while Vickie Perks only had eyes to be a microphone-in-hand singer and petite blonde Tina O’Neill already had drumsticks in their tiny grip ready for their first lesson. Not having a great idea for a band name, one of them came up with the idea of playing on one of the instruments they were now rehearsing with. A ‘Fuzzbox’, to describe it in its entirety, is a guitar pedal that is used to create a distorted sound. It was first used by Jimi Hendrix and was an essential element in creating surround sound from fuzzy or “fuzzy” noises predominantly in rock music. It was also and still is a certain equipment used by many punk groups of the time to give the very essence to a punk rock sound. Thus was born ‘We have a Fuzzbox and we are going to use it’ …
Though with their brightly colored rags and market-cut image that was more Barbie than pure punk, they were attractive, but dated. Recording the Indie charts was the best they could get in their early days. Too clean and well-groomed for anything alongside The Slits, they took their place alongside fellow extreme makeup applicators Strawberry Switchblade on the hunt for pouts, powders, ribbons, and empty expressions. Now well equipped and with all the lessons of their respective instruments, they were ready to release their first single.
Upon signing up for Vindaloo’s records (they were the first and only record label willing to take a chance on the colorblind quartet), they released AA’s record “XX Sex / Rules And Regulations” in April 1986. It was Toni Basil’s Mickey record. . ‘all over again. It was racy, very feminine, and pumped to the hilt with too low, and certainly not glamorous enough to tame the record-buying public. Their promo video was an embarrassing arrangement of little abandoned street scenes and all the impressive gravitation shots of a younger brother in Too Tizer. The single itself, flopped at number 41 and failed to climb further, but took the number 1 spot on the Indie chart. With their shrill chant ‘There must be more to life …’ it seemed like Fuzzbox was going to have to get something better out of his hat if they really wanted to stay away from the food islands. However, it is one of those clues that, since its fame quickly acquired a couple of years later, we sit down now and analyze for deeper hidden meanings. ‘XX Sex’ will just turn into a shitty song. Their overuse of yelling and screaming was certainly not going to put them firmly in the punk hall of fame, but it seemed like for a brief moment, they managed to achieve something of a retro teddy boy feel with ‘Rockin With Rita. Teaming up with the mediocre ‘where are they now?’ Fellow nerds from the same label, there’s a strong Duane Eddy feel that should definitely appeal to the ’70s Teddy Boy ravers, even if they were all out of work by now. , potato. Once again the timing was bad and once again it’s a track that we fondly remember and remember the days when we liked the guy who worked with the Dodgems in Blackpool …
‘Love Is The Slug’ was actually her second chart single and brought out all the chic of girls in white stilettos dancing around handbags reluctantly at a cheap disco on a Saturday night (probably Kidderminster ). exhausting voices and lacked real imagination. However, it was typical of the time. It sounded sad and almost to the point that the band was being held hostage while recording it. It wasn’t until the bubblegum “What’s The Point” that we felt a definite change in the way they reflected the music scene around them. Released in February 1987, the time had come for the punk image to disappear and they struggled to start dulling its look without making it too shocking to the last remaining punk buyers. Strangely, but this time around, they were creating an alternative to the ever-popular ‘The Bangles’, who were happily having fun amid the road charts. Meanwhile, Fuzzbox was rising through the ranks through the Inidie scene. It is not an achievement of any of the women so far. Surprisingly, this rockabilly up beat track failed to make anything higher than number 51. Although they were Indie Queens, they were actually the commercial pop charts they were looking for …
At the time, they knew it wasn’t just their alternative, working-class, fighter handwriting that would have to change. They could no longer sing about making out at the disco, having a pint with the guys, and doing the dishes. The green net had to disappear, as well as the tights and the pink and blue hair.
After hitting the hits with the Vindaloo label, they switched to the British section of WEA for their next single, and ‘International Rescue’ hit the charts in February 1989 after a fairly silent hiatus of two years.
It was even more apparent on this track that Fuzzbox had a definite humorous side. We had all been aware of his antics, as his video performances until now had always been a bit sassy and teasing. With this particular track, we see two of them dressed up as Thunderbirds alongside the villain played by Adrian Edmundson. Quite an incredible pee but we wonder which is stronger, the pee of the Thunderbirds or themselves. Either way, the trick had worked, they’d hit number 11, and now they were on their way to creating another angle for ’80s pop music. We are already regulars on certain shows like The Tube on CH4 and (who could forget?) The Old Gray Whistle Test! They were certainly about to have their most explosive 15 minutes of fame.
Still just as loud, but now everyone wearing the same color, they seemed to be somewhat tame and only admitted squirming on the floor during video sessions and concerts. Now they were even bigger, more glamorous and professional, miles from their amateurish, ill-styled but energetic theme. The music was more rocker now than indie. He was sharp, leggy, and wonderfully aggressive. The Spice Girls were a group of children in cabbage plots still growing as babies compared to Fuzzbox. These girls were certainly in favor of girl power. Instead of a cozy night and maybe a goodnight kiss; Fuzzbox would have exhausted you and then fired you after ordering you to serve them breakfast in bed.
‘Pink Sunshine’ followed and sat quite ecstatic at number 14 in May 1989. One thing that could be said about this band that they were songwriters, producers and masters of their own mix, they knew exactly how to control their market. Without pitching too many singles at once in a desperate attempt to win over the crowd, they would instead sit and watch carefully, delegating which to pitch first. This particular track, ‘Pink Sunshine’, was, by its own personal standards, a track that should be released during the summer. A joyful track and a true summer theme of bright sunshine and fun, they felt it would have been a better hit if it had been released a month or two later. They were probably right, but we would never know.
Perhaps his biggest track was his last standout single, although a couple more followed. A quick solo, and also not credited by Queen’s legendary Brian May, ‘Self’, was definitely Fuzzbox coming out just as the album this track came from suggests, with a ‘Big Bang’. Angrily grabbing No.24 in August 1989, it was the summer that all the girls learned to successfully tease. It was significant as well as petty. We hated everything that moved while listening to this track. The men cowered in fear at a thousand young teenagers who were growling with the force of a hundred PMTs. It was an awakening for both listeners and Fuzzbox, but bitter resentments and disagreements between the label and the band members meant that any additional work would be limited.
Notably, the most poignant title, ‘Walking On Thin Ice’, which was originally by Yoko Ono, was released somewhere around 1990 as the band embarked on an epic tour of the Far East. It was a desperate clue not only on its subject, but it failed dramatically and the bitterness became too much. The band decided to cut their losses and continue the tour, despite being aware that Vickie was yearning for a break to examine a solo career. Something, even today, is still trying to find.
They returned home, recharged and quite flat in their sense of the now dubious direction of the band. Work on a new album was supposed to take place, but reconciliations between the band and the label proved they were not worth it. From the unfinished album ‘Out Of This World’, a final single was released just as the band decided to part ways. The significantly titled, ‘Your Loss, My Gain’, heralding the second line of ‘… and you know things will never be the same again …’ seemed to be the band’s swan song. It was time to put everything together and follow more personal plans. The Fuzzbox enigma had come to a sad end and the four of them literally went their separate ways. Tina is now an art teacher, while sisters Mags and Jo have gone on to write for other artists, as well as DJing in the underground scene. (Must be really tight maneuvering the turntables on those escalators …)
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Looking back at this band, we wonder if it could have been possible that this band had moved on. Leaving the scene on such a creative level, it always seems a shame that the band’s company is leaving when it seems like they could have had so much more to say. We had watched Fuzzbox grow and we grew up with them, from their messy, shameful and colored version of punk (almost an insult to true punk rockers), they were, only briefly, to punk what the Cheeky Girls were to pop music; It’s a petty insult, but they parted, quite glamorously, from all of that and became the most feminine group after the eighties, if only for a couple of years, hence the idea that they had literally 15 minutes of each other. fame.
With no actual melodious notes in their heads, they had certainly learned to play their instruments well considering they couldn’t play a note at first. They were so bad, it was great. They looked horrible, they couldn’t sing and their arrangements were as professional as the Mini Pops, but they still stick in our heads and the world of Indie pop is a very boring and uninteresting place without them even today. It’s been 16 years since we were made to touch the remote to turn up the volume knob or the kettle in the kitchen. An attempt to come back appeared once somewhere in 1998, but quickly fizzled out the same year.
It was time to ditch the sequins and hairspray and go back to listening to a terrible ‘Best Of 2006’ album. Somehow it doesn’t have the same feeling….
Fuzzbox was and will continue to be that way;
Vickie Perks – voice
Tina O’Neill – drums
Jo Dunne – lead guitar
Maggie Dunne – bass
Albums for running and elbowing the old ladies;
‘Big Bang’, 1989
‘BBC Sessions’, 2002
‘Look at the successes in that!’ 2004
Vindaloo / WEA Record Labels
© Michelle Hatcher (sam1942 on ciao and dooyoo) 2006