gullbuy music review

Au Pairs


Equal But Different - BBC Sessions 79-81


RPM Records


Equal But Different - BBC Sessions 79-81 CD coverAnyone interested in Au Pairs or the late 1970s/early 1980s British music scene could do a lot worse than checking out this tremendous RPM disc which collects just about all of their BBC sessions. Like many of the great bands who were exploding on the British scene, Au Pairs were given the chance to record these live in the studio sessions by John Peel, David Jensen, and Richard Skinner. Some of these recordings were recorded even before they had released their first single, and many of the recordings were intended to spotlight their amazing live sound. Au Pairs live sound coupled with the un-orthodox lyrical approach (which had a female empowerment element to it, but really stemmed from an equal but different mentality, something you don't find everyday really) comes across loud and clear on this disc. Often these versions beat out the album versions of the same songs, and thanks to the BBC engineers, they sound amazing.

Things get off the an incredible one-two punch with songs like Monogamy and Ideal Woman. These two songs were never even released on album or single. In fact the song Monogamy is the biggest reason to own this disc, because not only is this song a thrilling example of the Au Pairs live and lyrical power, it is also an amazing song. Apparently, it was a show stopper because they played it in their shows until 1982. It sounds amazing to hear this unreleased gem finally. Another awesome and unreleased gem is Ideal Woman which includes a powerful riff and makes fun of what we all think of as the ideal woman with lyrics like "She Loves the smell of her Body Mist....she's got a razor for her hairy legs" and "Oh God, she's so beautiful, she smells so nice...."

Other highlights for me include the pulsing It's Obvious, with it's scratching guitars and memorizing bass and vocals. This is also a great example of the bands views. One of my favorite Au Pairs' songs has been Headache for Michelle, and I loved hearing this very different but still amazing version here, where it sounds like they are feeling out the song in this hazy dubby version. You can't go wrong with the song Come Again which is about faking female orgasm (imagine a song like that on radio today?). I love the female/male countered vocals. I always thought it was a coup that Au Pairs covered Repetition by David Bowie (from his Lodger album), a song about a wife beater named Johnny. The Au Pairs' version sounds much more vicious than Bowie's, fitting for the Au Pairs' sound.

I've always wanted to hear more by Au Pairs, having only one of their RPM discs in  my own collection. I definitely think the BBC Sessions disc is an amazing overview of them, and was glad that it lived up to what I had heard so far.

---Patrick, May 27, 2003