I consider Heather Augustyn to be the premier author/scholar on ska, so her writing this book makes all the sense in the world. Other works by her would include Ska: An Oral History and Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist (reviewed here by me several years ago) among others and all are fascinating reads by virtue of the extensive, tireless and precise research she has done on each targeted subject in the ska realm.
This book may be her finest and most detailed offering yet; a complete, comprehensive history – in detail – of women who have contributed and elevated the world of ska in ways most casual fans or, at best, passing listeners, wouldn’t even begin to think of. BUT – it doesn’t just remain limited to ska. With the advent of the punk/post-punk, etc. movements in the late ’70’s/early ’80’s, there were several other female musicians and (subsequently) bands that helped forge and shape the musical spheres around them.
Rude Girls: Women In 2-Tone And One Step Beyond is something of a field guide to help expand our knowledge and musical palates. And the joy of this book is that it takes us through in-depth profiles of a multitude of performers/bands from (expectedly) The Selecter to The Bodysnatchers (who morphed into the poppier Belle Stars); the oft-overlooked and brilliant Mo-dettes and, yes, The Go-Go’s, who toured the U.K. with Madness in 1980. Each story is told by the various singers, musicians and personalities who played their pivotal roles so well.
This is not a book to be passed or overlooked. For a fresh perspective on a musical style that is frequently seen as limited, this work by Heather Augustyn will open your eyes and – more importantly – give you something different to take an interest in and listen to.
Rude Girls: Women In 2-Tone And One Step Beyond is currently available