If I had been really clever when putting together Skimming Stones, the special issue of Your Heart Out which can be downloaded for free here,I would have right at the heart of it the 1984 Sue Steward/Sheryl Garratt book, Signed Sealed And Delivered: True Life Stories of Women in Pop. Alas, I only stumbled across a copy after I'd published that edition of YHO, and only then it was pure chance after taking a wrong-turning down a library aisle of forgotten stock while looking for something else completely different. I haven't stopped kicking myself yet, because (ironically) I do recall borrowing a copy from a library when it was first published. I, however, haven't seen a copy in 25-odd years nor have I seen it mentioned in the big boys' bibliographies.
With the benefit of hindsight, SS&D actually comes across now as one of the greatest pop books ever. It tells its stories well, and the discography is remarkable and probably the coolest ever. So many of the people referred to in YHO's ackpages are mentioned: Ranking Ann, Betty Carter, Adele Bertei, Delta 5, ESG, Viv Goldman, Marcia Griffiths, Nazia Hassan, Annette Peacock, Flora Purim, Sylvia Robinson, Caroll Thompson, Weekend, Lotti Golden & Warp 9. Such great taste is to be expected given its authors. Sue Steward, for example, has special importance in British popular culture for her determined work in broadening musical horizons. And I'm wincing slightly at the description of Collusion as an "irregular music magazine". Oh well.
It has to be said SS&D also looks fantastic. It contains many great photos, from the likes of Val Wilmer and David Corio, and in particular Kerstin Rodgers and Annie (Anna) Arnone. The shots included of the Raincoats and Slits are among the best that have been published. But more pertinently for YHO there are brilliant live pictures of and references to the reggae outfits Abacush and African Woman (aka Akabu). Grrr. What a missed opportunity. Could've looked really clever there. And the cover star is Annie Whitehead, who around the time of publication was playing with Working Week: "It's going to get harder the papers say ..."
Great work! "Signed Sealed and Delivered" is a gem. What a loss if it were never written. During a search, I noticed that this highly respected book is used in Women's Studies programs.ReplyDelete
Sounds like a great book. And surprisingly (and happily), easy to find; just ordered myself a £3 copy off Amazon.ReplyDelete
Yes, this is an amazing book. There is a fabulous photo of Lotti Golden, working as an electro hip hop producer in the early 80's and a wonderful photos of Nina Cherry, Annie Lennox, Patti Smith and list goes on.ReplyDelete
Yr Heartout--thanks for this fab and thoughtful post. "Signed Sealed and Delivered" is a gem of a book, and we are so much the richer for it. The books documents the careers of women pop music pioneers, and artists who took charge, becoming writer/producers like Lotti Golden, at a time when few women worked in this field. It's a legacy we can celebrate, that's rarely discussed in depth. Fortunately this book "got" published, thanks to the dedication of authors Steward and Garrett. And there are the priceless photos by Patricia Bates. Kudos for posting! A must read.ReplyDelete
The 1984 Sue Steward/Sheryl Garratt book, "Signed Sealed And Delivered: True Life Stories of Women in Pop" is among the best (arguably *the* best) book on women in music written in the last 30 years.ReplyDelete