Coming Up Roses

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This unit was formed in 1986 by the songwriting partnership of ex-Dolly Mixture members Deborah Wykes (b. 21 December 1960, Hammersmith, London, England; guitar, vocals) and Hester Smith (b. 28 October…
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This unit was formed in 1986 by the songwriting partnership of ex-Dolly Mixture members Deborah Wykes (b. 21 December 1960, Hammersmith, London, England; guitar, vocals) and Hester Smith (b. 28 October 1960, West Africa; drums), along with Nicky Brodie (vocals, percussion), Patricia O’Flynn (saxophone, ex-Shillelagh Sisters), Leigh Luscious (guitar) and Claire Kenny (bass, ex-Amazulu), later replaced by bass player Sophie Cherry. Their melodic pop/dance style, described by the band as ‘ballroom soul’, mixed witty and caustic lyrics - in ‘I Could Have Been Your Girlfriend (If You’d Asked Me To)’ Wykes sang: ‘She’s so dumb, she’s so sweet/I didn’t think she’d last a week... She’s so pretty she’s so fine, she is such a waste of time/Well so she’s cute, well I don’t care, she’s got stinking underwear!’. They signed to Billy Bragg’s Utility Records label releasing one album in 1989. The band had already toured the UK as part of the pop-socialist collective Red Wedge troupe in 1987. After various personnel changes, but retaining the nucleus of Wykes and Smith along with Brodie, the band settled on a more stable line-up in 1990 with Tony Watts (lead guitar), Midus (bass) and Jane Keay (saxophone). However, disillusion with the music business’ preoccupation with current trends prompted the band’s demise in March 1991, leaving behind a legacy of timeless pop songs. Wykes later worked with Saint Etienne and formed Birdie with their guitarist Paul Kelly.