Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: Sacred Bones
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Punk/New Wave, New Wave
As her band Strawberry Switchblade began to fall apart in 1985, Rose McDowall was left in limbo. Not sure that she wanted to be part of the music industry she despised, yet not willing to give up on making music, she kept recording songs between 1986 and 1988. Some were meant for a second Strawberry Switchblade album that never appeared, some were solo efforts, but none of them were released at the time.
Strawberry Switchblade’s Rose McDowall penned songs for their second album, but the group split before they could be recorded. Instead, the material worked its way into this cache of demos for McDowall’s planned solo album, recorded in the late 80s but unavailable until a limited 2004 CD run on her own Bad Fairy label (now out of print and startlingly expensive). The UK Night School and American Sacred Bones labels have got together to do it justice, with bonus tracks from the Don’t Fear The Reaper single and all manner of souped-up packages available.
Everything you need to know about Strawberry Switchblade, the Scottish duo of Rose McDowall and Jill Bryson, is right there in the name. The group, who grew out of the late '70s Glasgow punk scene paired brightly-colored, synth-driven new wave melodies with lyrics that often spoke of sadness and loss. That polarity between light and darkness became even more apparent in the group’s acrimonious dissolution in 1986, just five years after they started.
The prospect of a revival of interest in the work of pop star turned underground artist Rose McDowall was something rather like that of a Jeremy Corbyn Labour leadership campaign – too much to hope for, then suddenly a gleaming reality. The timeless glory of the Strawberry Switchblade hit 'Since Yesterday' has ensured that McDowall has never quite been forgotten (it even appeared on a Ministry Of Sound Alternative 80s box set), but also never quite celebrated. At a time when more established artists endlessly their over-familiar work – Cut With The Cake Knife is a glorious resurrection brought forth by Night School and Sacred Bones, and the opening chapter of an extensive Rose McDowall reissue campaign.