Lesley Woods of The Au Pairs

Lesley Woods of The Au Pairs - breaking through gender barriers in 1981.

Au Pairs – Live In Berlin – 1981 – Past Daily Soundbooth

Lesley Woods of The Au Pairs
Lesley Woods of The Au Pairs – breaking through gender barriers in 1981.

The Au Pairs – live in Berlin – Recorded at Tempodrom, Berlin – June 19, 1981 – North German Radio –

The Au Pairs in concert to kick off the week. Recorded live at the Tempodrom in Berlin on June 19, 1981, and preserved faithfully by North German Radio.

The Au Pairs were formed in Birmingham in 1978 and continued until 1983. They produced two studio albums and three singles. Their songs were said to have “contempt for the cliches of contemporary sexual politics” and their music has been compared to the Gang of Four and the Young Marble Giants. The band was led by Lesley Woods, who was once described as “one of the most striking women in British rock”.

In a review of the band’s debut show at the Whisky a Go Go, critic Richard Cromelin said: “When the crowd at the Whisky kept calling Au Pairs back to the stage for encores Wednesday night, it was as if they were trying to tell the group’s singer Lesley Woods that her band had done just fine and she could go ahead and loosen up a little.” (Los Angeles Times, 1981)

Writing about their show at The Ritz, John Rockwell said “The Au Pairs blend political lyrics, a tough, funk-dance-rock idiom and an at least initially dispassionate vocal style, rather like the Gang of Four meeting the Young Marble Giants” and suggested that Lesley Woods “and the band were able to build the insinuating monotones of the songs early in the set through street taunts into a rousing rock-and-roll climax.” (The New York Times, 1981)

Music historian Gillian G. Gaar noted in her 2002 She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll (Live Girls) that the band mingled male and female musicians in a revolutionary collaborative way, as part of its outspoken explorations of sexual politics.

For further proof, here is an extended excerpt from the live show they did in Berlin in 1981 – crank it up and give it a listen.

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