Jane Aire & The Belvederes – Yankee Wheels

23rd June 2022 · 1970s, 1978, Funk, Music, Punk

Akron girl Jane Aire’s star burned briefly but brightly with this compellingly quirky slice of twisted teen-dream Americana.

The story goes that Jane Ashley was discovered by Liam Sternberg, the local producer who wrote Walk Like An Egyptian for The Bangles, singing along to a jukebox in a cafe in her hometown.

Re-christening her Jane Aire, he put two of her songs on the Akron compilation album he curated for Stiff and got her a deal with the label.

She soon followed Chrissie Hynde to England to find an audience among the burgeoning punk/New Wave scene but her career was far briefer.

She came to my attention with her debut single Yankee Wheels, a song that defies expectations to the end.

It starts conventionally, catches your attention with a curious chorus, and kind of disintegrates at the end. It sounds even stranger, and better, today.

The Belvederes were Sternberg’s new name for a London band called The Edge, formed by two musicians who had passed briefly through The Damned.

Drummer Jon Moss had previously been in protopunk outfit London SS and later found fame in Culture Club, while guitarist Lu Edmonds is now in PiL and The Mekons, but was previously (and even more interestingly) in my year at school.

The others were Gavin Povey and Glyn Havard on keyboards and bass, but who cares about them – though, to be fair, it’s the lurching bassline that drives the song, and the piano that propels it towards its disintegrating finale?

Yankee Wheels had a more experimental sounding B-side called Nasty… Nice but the rough edges were shaved off when Jane moved to Virgin to make her self-titled debut album.

She almost had a hit with her version of Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache, but in 1980 she married a Rat – Pete Briquette of The Boomtown Rats.

They were introduced by her backing singer, a then unknown Kirsty MacColl – and, despite an attempted comeback on Stiff in 1982, Jane disappeared from the music scene.