Seven-piece all-girl ska/reggae band, The Bodysnatchers, were brought together in September 1979 by bass player Nicky – then a part-time veg seller in Berwick Street market – via adverts in the music press: “Rude Girls Wanted” (she says she got a lot of dirty phone calls).
Along came dark toffee coloured singer and employee of the Brixton dole office, Rhoda; Lead guitarist SJ, (a fashion lecturer); Freelance illustrator without any work but with a chopped and channelled trilby, Penny, on keyboards and songwriting; Scunthorpe-raised rhythm guitarist Stella; drummer on the dole Jane; and schoolgirl sax-player, Miranda.
They made their first public appearance at the Windsor Castle in November 1979 and their debut disc, a pleasant arrangement of the old Dandy Livingstone tune Let’s Do Rock Steady made the Top Ten.
They secured a two singles deal with 2-Tone in February 1980 and played on tour with The Selecter the same month. Support slots with The Specials followed, but a second single released later in the year (Easy Life) failed to capture the big hit status of Rock Steady.
The band appeared in the 2-Tone movie, Dance Craze, but had broken up by the time the film was released. Their short-lived career came to an end in November, with most of the girls moving on to form The Belle Stars.
Rhoda Dakar released the solo single, The Boiler in 1982, backed by The Specials in their guise as Special AKA. The harrowing single relates the tale of a woman with low self-esteem (she compares herself with an old boiler) who is raped and assaulted.
The song (unsurprisingly) received limited airplay but still managed to reach #35 in the UK charts and was ranked among the top ten “Tracks of the Year” for 1982 by NME.
Sarah-Jane (SJ) Owen