The Fabulous Dirt Sisters released two full length albums on their record label, Spinaround, during the 1980s.
The first album, Flapping Out, was released in 1986. The art work claims the washing line, a stage prop often used as a backdrop to their live performances, as a symbol of women’s everyday creativity.
The songs typically draw upon the life experiences of its members: ‘Didn’t affect me’ takes a humourous approach to personal survival ‘I was sixteen when I knew it would difficult’ the song confesses, at the same time as we hear about the man cleaning the window ‘who saw me’.
‘Deb is a Roofer’ uses Deb’s experiences in manual trades as a roofer and is a euphoric, galloping ditty that refuses to settle, promising no ending because ‘Stella’s learning welding!’.
‘Army Song’, ‘Tree Planting’ and ‘Wood Song’ are all coloured by the experiences of the band in the peace movement and protests at Greenham Common in particular.
While ‘Buskininthesun’, ‘Street Song’ and ‘Women on the Streets’ bring the flavour of playing on the street onto the record.
The enduring sense of playful protest ends the album with ‘Dip a Toe’, a song inspired by the Bhopal disaster in 1984.
Their second album, Five Strong Swimmers, was released in 1988.
Again, the songs on the album delve into the politics of women’s lives. Songs like ‘Knots’ create a picture of the under appreciated work of women weaving their destiny, ‘she made her lot by her knots/ but not a lot, not a lot.’ ‘Susie’s Wedding’ tells the story of a woman rejecting the conventions of heterosexuality to love herself, delivered in a doo wop style.
‘Resistance Tango’ promotes unity and solidarity in the face of a society divided by Thatcherism while ‘T’aint necessarily our fault’ playfully relays the political interventions of feminists on the streets of Nottingham.
‘Microbe’ is a humourous tale that delves into Kaffe Mathew’s recovery battle after standing on the spine of a sting ray, complete with a mournful honky tonk breakdown in the middle, as ‘no one would listen to me’ about the pain she was suffering.
Both albums capture the Dirt Sisters’ unique, expressive style, their ability to write songs that were innovative in song structure and arrangement, while presenting music that was politically literate and joyful.
All songs written and copyright The Fabulous Dirt Sisters and appear with permission.