Three teenage girls: ages 15-16.
Hometown: Victoria, British Columbia.
The Dishrags featured two incarnations that managed to produce some killer slabs of Punk Rock and Pop that even got features on the fledgling MuchMusic video station at the time.
Jade Blade (whose real name I once saw on TV during an interview about Canadian Punk Rock but now forget) was the cousin of Chris Arnett, of Vancouver's first punk band, the Furies. She hooked up with Dale Powers and a drummer named Scout. Since they were unable to make the Ramones debut gig in Van City in 1977 (being underage, and all), they made their Vancouver debut that year by backing up Arnett's Furies. Referring to their favorite Ramone brudder, the girls called themselves, Dee Dee and The Dishrags for that inaugural performance.
June, 1978: Battle Of The Bands at The Body Shop. Sandwiched between the Hardcore of DOA and the New Wave of Tim Ray and The AV were The Dishrags (having by now jettisoned the "Dee Dee" prefix). They weren't part of the "official" lineup, not having contestant status. Didn't matter. They proved themselves that night that they belonged on the stage.
Shortly after that, the band laid down their first studio track, which was a contribution to the Vancouver Complication compilation: a document of that city's New Music scene. "I Don't Love You" and "Bullshit" were the Dishrags songs. "Bullshit" was the first original song the girls wrote. However, they eventually moved away from the short, sharp blasts of fury to write more complex tunes.
Still, they became something of a sensation, in Punk Rock circles; The Clash specifically asked for them to be their openers for their Vancouver show. Of course, the girls made the most of the situation, by playing "London's Burning" for their encore. Joe Strummer et al were reportedly so taken aback, that they dedicated their own original to "Madames Dishrags".
Apparently, even Bo Diddley was a fan: he's reported to have invited The Dishrags down to his Miami home for "some recordin' and some partyin'." However, the girls never took up ol' Ellas Bates on his offer, so we may never know how the Dishrags may have sounded with that Bo Diddley beat.
Triangle Studios, Summer of '79
While the girls never made it down to Florida, they did manage to record their next disc, in the United States. They entered Seattle, Washington's Triangle Studios in the summer of 1979 (where, years later, another trio named Nirvana also recorded their first EP). Seattle had taken The Dishrags to heart: the girls opened for The Avengers and The Clash once more. They started headlining gigs in their own right and eventually releasing their Past Is Past EP.
The record did well, quickly quickly selling out its initial pressing. Constant gigging also did them some good: Scout and Dale became a crack rhythm section in the process. But all things must pass, and Dale Powers left the band. Enter bassist Kim Henriksen and Sue MacGillivray on guitar.
Fresh from the just-imploded Devices -- another all-girl group making a name for itself in Vancouver -- Sue and Kim were an uneasy fit, at first. But they eventually found their footing in the lineup. Not only were Devices songs added to the band's repertoire...Sue's new compositions made their way into set lists, as well. Meanwhile, Jade Blade herself was writing more complex material.
Songs by The Dishrags Mark II could now feature the interplay of two guitars, not to mention the vocals of four strong singers. Any reticence between two separate units was eventually quashed: their three-sets-per-night at The Calgarian -- a former Country & Western bar -- grounded the new group.
In 1980, the girls recorded the Death In The Family EP. And there are some questions as to the origins of its release: sold as an import in North America with a white RCA England label on it. But doing so accomplished two things: it instantly raised The Dishrags' profile, as Vancouver groups -- in the wake of The Pointed Sticks' signing to the UK's Stiff Records -- shifted from DIY to visions of a deal with a big British major label. But more importantly, it convinced those who had never taken the band seriously to actually have a listen. In other words: "if it's on RCA England, it must be good."
Death In The Family featured three songs, including "All The Pain", featuring the double-guitar interplay of its Television-like coda. Reportedly, they had also recorded a cover version of The Animals' "It's My Life". But it apparently was never mixed and is seemingly now lost to the ages.
However, as happens in these sort of things, personality clashes would get the best of the group. It's not known if The Dishrags broke up immediately after or during the recording of Death In The Family. Nonetheless, it was released posthumously (irony, anyone?).
Years later, the songs, including demos were released on a collection called Love/Hate.
You can download it below.
The Dishrags - Love/Hate:
|1||Dishrags||I Don't Love You||1:42|
|3||Dishrags||Past Is Past||2:23|
|5||Dishrags||Love Is Shit||1:18|
|8||Dishrags||You Fit The Picture||1:56|
|13||Dishrags||Quiet Little Table||2:39|
|14||Dishrags||Nowhere To Hide||4:08|
|15||Dishrags||Death In The Family||2:29|
|16||Dishrags||Beware Of Dog||2:33|
|17||Dishrags||All The Pain||3:29|
|18||Dishrags||I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You||1:23|
|22||Dishrags||Friday Night Date||2:11|
|24||Dishrags||High Society Snob||1:32|