Every year, a short-lived and overlooked band gets the compilation and/or re-release treatment as, usually, there is someone behind the scenes pulling all the strings trying to market them as being of some great importance or a stepping stone in musical history. Who knows why they do this? It could be one of many factors. The labels need to squeeze one last dime of the band, the label is about to fold, divorces, bastard children, or maybe the band and/or people at the label have drug and/or legal bills that are stacking up. Despite any cynicism that this endless string of reissues may incite, Delta 5 deserves to be heard and heard they shall be.
Having formed in 1979, Delta 5 made a name for themselves in their native vicinity of Leeds. Yet the band remained obscure to those on this side of the pond, despite local counterparts such as Gang of Four, the Mekons and Soft Cell receiving their fair share of attention. Delta 5 was at the helm of the Rock Against Racism movement in the UK and even came to blows (physically) in a much publicized melee with the far right Rock Against Communism, an organization infested with many white power and other hate group musicians.
The sound of Delta 5 however actually put the funk in punk as the band contained two bass players (Ros Allen and Berthan Peters) whose wobbly rhythms kept the groove going for the feminist politics of front lady Julz Sale, along with the scuffing guitar of Alan Briggs. Delta 5 was a band that paid their dues and then some, and never got the props they deserved before disbanding in 1981.
Sale sings like a drier version of Belinda Carlisle in the tracks “Mind Your Own Business” and “Now That You’ve Gone.” The drizzling harmonies make their presence known with “Anticipation” while “You” is a delightfully skewed pop strut with high pitched hooting. Even tracks like “Make Up” make for a giddy fracas and Delta 5 let their No Wave wings spread on “Colour.” In some sort of weird way, these tracks serve as long range binoculars that saw the way for the female fronted dance pop of MTV’s early days.
It must be said, though that Julz Sale was one of the most colorful frontwomen in the history of punk. She can sing and psychoanalyze simultaneously while having the attitude of a bratty little girl who is sticking her tongue at you and saying “nyah nyah.” In other words, she is kind of like Lucy Van Pelt, having grown into her mid-twenties even more angry and talking more shit at society than she ever did to Charlie Brown or her brother Linus. Hipster astrologists take note. If Gang of Four are from Mars than Delta 5 are from Venus. All of the critics who applied their craft before this generation should give themselves a swift kick in the ass for overlooking them.
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