The Face

Issue 31, November 1982

Even if you didn't know them, Rose and Jill soon became familiar figures around apres-punk Glasgow. Out alarming the citizens, looking then as now like little girls lost and grown up in the forest with only a trunk full of gaudy frocks, the third Velvets album, and perhaps a meat cleaver for cannibalising stray waifs; wild-haired in luminous make-up, they were hard to miss.

It was only the mildest of surprises to see them suddenly appear on a stage, shyly clutching guitars and singing sweetly. More unexpected, but completely apt, was the sound they made: scary folk songs with delicate, haunted melodies. Strawberry Switchblade had located the hitherto unsuspected middle-ground between Judy Collins and the Velvet Underground. If anything, the Switchblade mode - bad fairies in polka-dots, braids and daisy chains - was their normal appearance toned down. Such a striking, uncontrived combination won the hearts of many before too long.

Success in fact came so quickly that it hasn't yet been necessary for them to do so much as ask anyone for a gig, never mind court the media. Their first demo was recently recorded in order to stop A&R departments from pestering them for tapes. Ideally, Strawberry Switchblade would have preferred to hide away a while longer; take time to develop, write songs, sew dresses, practice smooth chord changes, paint more polka-dots on everything. And also to grow accustomed to a reduction from a quartet to a duo (with tapes).

Instead, other people's economics force them to make plans now rather than develop at a natural pace. But that's OK. They can cope. They're going to be terrific. Just stop shoving back there, OK?

Glenn Gibson