The Bodysnatchers – The Boiler

22nd September 1979 · 1970s, 1979, Music, Reggae, Two-Tone

The Bodysnatchers were an all-female seven-piece ska revival band from London and The Boiler was the chilling centrepiece of their live performances.

The very essence of uneasy listening, it’s a harrowing and graphic first-person account of a rape, written and sung by Rhoda Dakar, the band’s vocalist.

I can well remember the awkward silence at the end of the song at their gigs – Rhoda would emit blood-curdling screams at the conclusion and applause seemed far too facile a response.

They made their debut in late 1979 supporting Shane McGowan’s pre-Pogues band The Nipple Erectors (aka The Nips) and split up barely a year later after a couple of singles (Do Rock Steady was a minor hit).

Several of them formed another all-girl band, The Belle Stars with a new singer (Jenny McKeown) and, eschewing ska for a vaguely funky brand of party music, enjoyed a handful of hits including the fantastically irritating Iko Iko and The Clapping Song.

Meanwhile Rhoda, who had sung backing vocals on the first Specials album, teamed up with Jerry Dammers in The Special AKA after Terry Hall left to form Fun Boy Three.

A re-recording of this song became the new band’s first single, released under the name Rhoda With The Special AKA, but this is the original Bodysnatchers version I remember, recorded from the John Peel radio show.