Marine Girls iTunes Tracks

Marine Girls

+ {Jane} + {Jane And Barton} + {Grab Grab The Haddock}

A precursor to EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL by the fact that singer TRACEY THORN (also a solo artist) was an integral part of the early 80s all-girl group, MARINE GIRLS were indeed the plaintive, missing link between The RAINCOATS and YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS.
Formed in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, in 1980, by guitarist Thorn and her sixth-form pal Gina/Georgina Hartman (initially lead vocalist and percussionist), the pair enlisted the help of sisters Jane (bass) and 14-year-old Alice Fox (vocals, percussion). This quirky but charmingly shy post-new wave quartet issued their first DIY release in 1981, the 50-copy/cassette-only mini-set, `A Day By The Sea…’; significant that it featured otherwise exclusive miniatures `Getting Away From It All’, `Lorna’, `Harbours’ and `Hour Of Need’.
Cut in Pat Bermingham’s garden shed for In Phaze, a second DIY cassette, BEACH PARTY (1981) {*8}, impressed TELEVISION PERSONALITES punk maverick Dan Treacy (head of Whaam! Records), who re-issued the 16-song set on vinyl the following March, to coincide with a leftover 45, `On My Mind’ (b/w `The Lure Of The Rockpools’). By word of mouth and several spins on the John Peel show, indie fans were hooked on the set’s twee-pop minimalism, enough to make it an independent Top 30 entry. Although she’d left in October ’81, to become a student at Hull University (Gina also bailed), where she put together her own mini-set, `A Distant Shore’ in ’82, the blossoming TRACEY THORN was the star-turn on the likes of `In Love’, `Tonight?’ and `He Got The Girl’. The other ‘Girls were responsible for the off-kilter, mainly, 1-2 minute jangly, sing-a-long passages; `Silent Red’, `Dishonesty’, `Fridays’, `Times We Used To Spend’, `Flying Over Russia’, `Tutti Lo Sanno’, `Promises’ et al, adhering to the post-Jackie tales of lovelorn angst. However, it was the child-like simplicity of MARINE GIRLS that no doubt persuading Cherry Red Records to net their signatures; re-releasing `On My Mind’ in May ’82 and, following it up several months on, with the cutesy-pie `Don’t Come Back’. The trio were finally making waves with the more widely-distributed sophomore set, LAZY WAYS (1983) {*8}; its limelight mainly shared by Tracey, Alice and Jane; Tracey shining on `Love To Know’, `A Different Light’, `Second Sight’ and `You Must Be Mad’; Alice on the aptly-titled `That Fink, Jazz-Me-Blues Boy’, a CARMEL-esque cover of PEGGY LEE’s `Fever’, and the title track.
However, by the time they’d added a little panache to the indie charts (Top 5), Tracey had met her beau, BEN WATT, at the aforementioned University of Hull; the EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL pairing first unloading a reading of Cole Porter’s `Night And Day’ that summer. Inevitably, TRACEY THORN found it increasingly difficult to juggle two or three music careers and opted to part ways with the Fox sisters later that year.
JANE, too, was attempting to balance group and solo commitments, having already released her summer single, `It’s A Fine Day’, a starkly atmospheric, a cappella gem which was radically overhauled by Opus III for a massive dance hit almost a decade later. JANE subsequently found her “Ben Watt” – so-to-speak – in rhythm man, Edward Barton; the partnership extending to a disappointing mini-set, JANE AND BARTON (1983) {*4}, highlighting attendant platter `I Want To Be With You’.
The following year, the dreamy singer was re-united with sister Alice (plus musicians Lester Noel and Steve Galloway) in another maritime-themed outfit, GRAB GRAB THE HADDOCK. Sadly, without as much fuss and attention given over to the Cherry Red-endorsed group, they released only two sprawling slices of EP vinyl:- “Three Songs By…” (1984), comprising `I’m Used Now’, `Nothing You Say’ and `That Day’, and “Two More Songs By…” (1985), featuring `Last Fond Goodbye’ and `Wan But Smiling’; the latter was also a 12-inch (“Four Songs By…”) adding two other ditties. JANE would belatedly try one further time when she self-released the `Lovely And Chicken’ EP, in 1989.
© MC Strong 1999-2003/GRD series // rev-up MCS Apr2016

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