The Au Pairs were a British post-punk band that formed in Birmingham in 1978 Music historian Gillian G. Gaar noted in her history of women in rock that the band mingled male and female musicians in a revolutionary collaborative way, as part of its outspoken explorations of sexual politics.

Career[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Their first album Playing with a Different Sex is considered a post-punk classic with strong, sarcastic songs like "It's Obvious" and "We're So Cool" taking a dry look at gender relations. Other songs, such as "Armagh" with its refrain, "we don't torture" criticized the British government's treatment of Irish Republican prisoners in the then ongoing Troubles in Northern Ireland, which caused some controversy at the time.[citation needed] The band performed in 1980 for the concert film Urgh! A Music War.

The band's second album, Sense and Sensuality (1982), showed an even greater influence of jazzsoulfunk and disco on the band's sound, but was less well received.[citation needed]

Following the departure of Jane Munro in 1983, she was replaced by Nick O'Connor (who also played piano / synthesizers in the group). At this time the group were further augmented by Jayne Morris (percussion and backing vocals) and Graeme Hamilton (trumpet). The band broke up in 1983, just before they were about to go into the studio to record an album with producer Steve Lillywhite.

Woods formed an all woman band called the Darlings in the late 1980s, but then left the music industry. She now works as a lawyer in London.[2] Guitarist Paul Foad remains an active musician, playing with Andy Hamilton and the Blue Notes, a Jamaican jazz band, and teaching guitar in and around Birmingham. He has also published a guitar technique book, co-written with Stuart Ritchie, titled The Caged Guitarist (2000). Bass player Jane Munro works as an alternative therapist (aromatherapy, reflexology and Indian head massage) in Birmingham. Pete Hammond also remains an active musician and teaches percussion in Birmingham.

Discography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Singles[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • "You" / "Domestic Departure" / "Kerb Crawler" (021 Records, OTO 2, 1979)
  • "It's Obvious" / "Diet" (021 Records, OTO 4, 1980)
  • "Inconvenience" / "Pretty Boys" (Human Records, HUM 8, 1981)
  • "Inconvenience" / "Pretty Boys" / "Headache For Michelle" (remix) (Human Records, HUM 8/12, 1981)

Albums[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Playing with a Different Sex (Human Records, HUMAN 1, 1981) (No. 33 UK)[3]
  • Sense and Sensuality (Kamera Records, KAM 010, 1982) (No. 79 UK)[3]
  • Live in Berlin (AKA Records, AKA6, recorded 1982, released 1983)
  • Shocks to the System: The Very Best of the Au Pairs (Cherry Red, CDMRED161, 1999)
  • Equal But Different - BBC Sessions 79-81 (RPM, RPM139)
  • Sense and Sensuality (Remastered) (Castle Music, CMRCD 470, 2002)
The Castle version corrects severe errors on the original version, including the too-fast speed of the Kamera Records release.[citation needed]

Original members[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Lesley Woods - guitar/vocals
  • Paul Foad - guitar/vocals
  • Jane Munro - bass
  • Pete Hammond - drums
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