Taking their name from the word for a decorative handbag favored by women in the Klaipeda region of Lithuania, British garage pop girl group, the Delmonas began life as the Milkboilers. If that moniker sounds suspiciously similar to that of the Billy Childish-led Milkshakes, it's no coincidence: The trio got its start by singing backup on the lads' recordings (and dating the boys in the band). Sarah (who went with Mickey Hampshire), Hilary (with Russ Wilkins), and Louise (with Bruce Brand) took the lead on a rendition of the Beatles' "Boys" before striking out on their own with a couple of four-song EPs in 1984: Comin' Home Baby (popularized by Mel Tormé) and Hello, We Love You (actually the Doors' "Hello, I Love You.") In both cases, the Milkshakes served as their backing band and Childish and Hampshire wrote most of the originals. The following year, the Delmonas released their first full-length recording, Dangerous Charms, which rounded up the EP tracks, three outtakes, and five numbers from a radio broadcast (it was later released as Delmonas Plus Delmonas with additional material from another BBC session). Interpersonal tensions resulted in a recording gap of several years and a revamped lineup for 1988's follow-up, Delmonas 5!. Louise had since left the group and Hilary and Sarah had renamed themselves Miss Ida Red and Ludella Black (the latter possibly in tribute to British chanteuse Cilla Black). They were backed by the first lineup of Thee Mighty Caesars (Childish, Wilkins, and John Agnew). The new combo cranked out a louder, harder-hitting sound. The Delmonas hit the streets in 1989 and continued in the same brassy vein. It featured Dangerous Charms' lost title-track and a couple of earlier numbers redone in French (Delmonas 5! and The Delmonas were later combined onto one CD). Do the Uncle Willy, released later the same year, was the band's final musical document. It compiled material from previous releases, a couple of alternate takes, and a new version of the Milkshakes' "Lie Detector." On all of their recordings, the Delmonas mixed cover versions from the '50s and '60s with original compositions that sounded as if they came from that era -- upbeat ravers in the spirit of the Shangri-Las, Lesley Gore, Nancy Sinatra, and other tough-but-tender girl acts. If they didn't quite have the vocal range of those artists, they made up for it in attitude and enthusiasm. This spirit was carried over into the Headcoatees, which included Black and Holly Golightly (now Brand's main squeeze), and would fulfill the same function: as backup to Thee Headcoats and as a band backed by them. In 2000, after both groups had called it quits, Black released her first solo album She's Out There (backed, not too surprisingly, by Hampshire and Brand, with whom she had begun her musical career).
The Delmonas Biography
by Kathleen C. Fennessy