Jam Today – Stroppy Cow Records 1981

Friend In You / Isolation

Stereotyping / Song About Myself

Know nothing about this band, which is half the reason why I have put it up.

Kentish Town / Hampstead based feminist’s on a DIY label from 1980 – 1981, ‘Stereotyping’ sounding very much like The Impossible Dreamers who were around the Street Level / Meanwhile Gardens organisation a fair bit. Other tunes sounding quite jazzy. Not really KYPP material but…

Wondered if anyone had come across them at all esp if you were around Kentish Town / Hampstead say 1980 – 1981?

If no one knows then I will have to consult the god of the obscure single, that is Sean ‘Gummidge’.

Worry not sweet punkers, I will be sticking a load more macho anarcho thrash up shortly, this is only a blip…A pleasant blip!

  1. Steve
    January 12, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Didn’t realise they were still going that late (and had never heard them before) but I distinctly recall the Raincoats distancing themselves from Jam Today in an early interview.

  2. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    January 13, 2008 at 1:56 am

    I have sent a message to Gina from The Marine Girls, for the S.P. on this bunch…According to the inserts etc, they seem pretty extreme (with a small e but…) feminists…Maybe that is why The Raincoats were a little edgy towards them? Hope to find out more…Cheers Steve.

  3. Nic
    January 13, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    I’ve had a little rummage around on the nookienet (as the post triggered off a memory of the band in the recesses of my mind), and found some information (which I have collated and paraphrased)…

    Jam Today were formed in a shed in Peckham in Spring 1976. They took their name from a 1943 front-page headline from the Daily Mirror newspaper which stated ‘Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, but never jam today” in response to a speech by Barbara Castle…
    The first incarnation of the group lasted from 1976 to 1979, playing a hybrid of jazz and Rock similar in approach to groups like Henry Cow.
    The group had strong connections to the Women’s Liberation (Feminist) and Lesbian movements, taking part in numerous marches/rallies and playing benefits (for causes such as community play groups) across the UK. The group were also a part of the ‘Women’s Music Movement’ which developed in the late 1970’s…
    This incarnation participated in the film ‘Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair’ (1978) which features an acting role by Dave Swarbrick of Fairport Convention(!).
    Link to ‘Rapunzel…’:
    (Funnily enough, I have a very large interest in ‘avant garde’ film and watched this film on one of my visits to the BFI in the mid-90’s!)

    Guitarist Deidre Cartwright went on to be one of the presenters of ‘Rockschool’ (BBC TV) in the early 1980’s. She continues to record and play live, as well as regular presenting for Radio 3, and running the Blow the Fuse jazz club which was based at the Vortex jazz club in London (where Penny Rimbaud (ex-Crass) has performed on a number of occasions).
    Alison Rayner still works with Cartwright as a musician in Cartwright’s group and as a performer at the Blow the Fuse jazz club.
    A number of the members (including Cartwright, Alison Rayner, Josefina Cupido and Angele Veltmeijer ) are part of the Vortex Jazz Foundation Big Band set up by Annie Whitehead.
    Ex-members also play in The Electric Landladies.

    Jam Today – 1st incarnation line-up: Frankie Green/Drums, Angele Veltmeijer/Flute & Saxes, Alison Rayner /Bass, Terry Hunt/Guitar, Deirdre Cartwright /Guitar, Josie Mitten/Keyboards & Vocals, Diana Wood /Vocals & Alto Sax, Corrine Liensol /Trumpet; and various other guest musicians including Laka Daisical /Keyboards & Vocals, Josefina Cupido /Drums,Percussion,Vocals

    Picture of the first line-up:

    The 2nd incarnation of the group – which retained some of the founding members – only lasted a year (1979 – 1980), and saw the group take a more jazz-orientated direction.
    Vicky Aspinall was the violinist for The Raincoats: she later went on to found Fresh Records (a Ladbroke Grove based ‘dance’ label) in the 1990’s.
    Jam Today – 2nd incarnation line-up: Alison Rayner /Bass, Terry Hunt/Guitar and band compositions, Vicky Aspinall / Violin, Josefina Cupido /Drums,Percussion,Vocals; and others

    Their 3rd and final incarnation (1980 – 1984) returned to the focus on jazz-rock. This line-up released the ‘Stereotyping’ EP (on their own label Stroppy Cow) in 1981.
    The group also appeared on television: the BBC TV series ‘Something Else’, and a programme for the BBC Open University called ‘Women in Rock’ with the groups Tour de Force and The Raincoats.
    Tour de Force image gallery:

    Jam Today – 3rd incarnation line-up: Alison Rayner /Bass, Terry Hunt/Guitar and band compositions, Julia Dawkins/Saxophones, Jackie Crew /Drums, Barbara Stretch /Vocals

    There is an archival recording (from 1994) in the British Library where Jazz-archivist and activist Val Wilmer discusses the 1970’s/1980’s Jazz/Lesbian/Feminist music scene with Josefina Cupido…

    This is actually a rather interesting topic: as we move further away from the actual dates, the development of ‘protest’ in the 1970’s becomes less-documented and becomes the province of cloistered academic whose papers are not available to the wider community.
    There is a (largely unwritten) history of music which featured women in prominent positions and which traverses the mid-to-late 1970’s: not so much bands like The Slits, The Raincoats, The Au Pairs, and Kleenex / Liliput (who have all been the subject of academic and ‘populist’ interest), but rather groups like The Liggers, Snatch, Gloria Mundi, Vermilion (and the Aces), The Innocents, Glass Torpedoes, The Resisters, The Skinflicks, Sadista Sisters, Shark Taboo, and The Lillettes…
    It would seem like the memory of these groups is largely disappearing down into the cracks – even the references to the groups in fanzines are being lost as the fanzines themselves disappear…
    To me, the Internet is an ideal means of archiving ideas through the recording of oral history (and of subsequently sharing them by facilitating access in a generally democratic manner by computer access to the WWW)…and that is perhaps what Tony et al were getting at with the message on the front page?

  4. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    January 16, 2008 at 12:44 am

    Thanks for finding all this out Nic, by the sound of it, it could fit into KYPP scene a little after all!

  5. alistairliv
    January 16, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Nic – if there is a theory underpinning the practice of KYPP online, it is the following bit from Society of the Spectacle : Spectacular Time:part 157.

    Tony’s first idea was for KYPP: the book, and this would have been the introduction… the sentence :

    This individual experience of a disconnected everyday life remains without language, without concepts, and without critical access to its own past, which has nowhere been recorded.

    being the key one.

    AL Puppy

    Society of the Spectacle: 157, from http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/6.htm

    The lack of general historical life also means that individual life as yet has no history. The pseudo-events that vie for attention in spectacular dramatizations have not been lived by those who are informed about them; and in any case they are soon forgotten due to their increasingly frenetic replacement at every pulsation of the spectacular machinery.

    Conversely, what is really lived has no relation to the society’s official version of irreversible time, and conflicts with the pseudocyclical rhythm of that time’s consumable by-products.

    This individual experience of a disconnected everyday life remains without language, without concepts, and without critical access to its own past, which has nowhere been recorded.

    Uncommunicated, misunderstood and forgotten, it is smothered by the spectacle’s false memory of the unmemorable.

  6. Larry-bob
    March 8, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    There is quite a bit of stuff about Jam Today in the book “Frock Rock: Women Performing Popular Music” by Mavis Bayton, published by Oxford University Press. I’ve just read the book, and the author did two rounds of studying women playing music, one in the early 80s and another round in the mid-90s. Interesting, accessible book.

  7. Frankie Green
    Frankie Green
    April 19, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Hi there!
    Synchronicity … Found you while googling to see if Jam Today was mentioned anywhere as I’m reviewing my life! I was a founder of Jam Today (the drummer) – it was my shed in Peckham where the band started in 76 and I thought of the name – as a demand for women’s liberation without delay! Really glad something is archived as this his(her)story sometimes seems vanished without trace ..feel free to contact me for more info if you like x

  8. Larry-bob
    April 19, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Very cool, Frankie. I wondered if the name was at all a reference to the White Queen in Alice Through the Looking-Glass saying “The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day” with a pun on jamming in the musical sense.

  9. Frankie Green
    Frankie Green
    April 19, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    That was it precisely, Larry-bob – (not the Daily Mirror connection, Nic, but otherwise cool) and it also referred to the way women’s political struggle for rights was often regarded by some left-wing groups, national liberation movements, etc, as something that could be placed way down on the agenda, as in ‘after the revolution’, rather than a priority or integrated. It was about women not waiting but taking control of our own lives radically. (Unfortunately, many of the world’s women are still waiting for justice and human rights…!)
    Incidentally, the impetus for the formation of Jam Today came from a previous bunch of feminist bands earlier in the 70s which were part of the WLM- e.g., London Women’s Rock Band (’71-2 I think), the Northern Women’s Rock Band, Ova and the Stepney Sisters are ones I recall. I wonder if anyone has documented them? Like JT they played at benefits for organisations such as Women’s Aid, community groups, conferences, demonstrations, plus workshops to demystify and encourage other women and girls to learn instruments and technology, sound mixing etc … they were exciting times

  10. Graham Burnett
    Graham Burnett
    April 19, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Wern’t there also connections with Henry Cow and that whole Rock in Opposition thing, esp people like Georgie Borne and Lindsey Cooper? Also Maggie Nicholls who I once met at an anarchist book fair and kept in touch with for a few years after. I also remember reading about the Feminist Improvising Group, and some of the names associated with Jam Today in ‘Musics’ magazine that used to be produced by the old London Musicians Collective in the late 70s.

    As an aside, my mum was very active in the ‘wimmins’ movement in the late 70s, I remember I used to get most disgruntled when she used to send me out of the house on a Thursday evening when I was trying to watch Top of The Pops (‘ironically’ of course, being the editor of a leading anarcho-punk fanzine at the time…) because all her feminist mates were coming round for ‘consciousness raising’ meetings…

    One Saturday night in 1981 she hosted a party for the wimmins group, me and my mates came back from the pub with the brand new Zounds album that I’d bought earlier that day, and it got played, everybody loved it and danced to it in my front room, magical night…

  11. Ann Holmes
    Ann Holmes
    December 6, 2009 at 1:45 am

    Hi Frankie
    I remember you doing your hand exercises.
    Do you know where Josie is now? I would like to get back in touch with her.

  12. Brian C.
    Brian C.
    January 8, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Thanks! I’ve been wanting to hear this one for 15 years, ever since it was mentioned in Joe Carducci’s Rock and the Pop Narcotic! Sounds like the Raincoats gone Canterbury jazz!

  13. Barbara Stretch
    Barbara Stretch
    June 15, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Yes, that’s me with my son Harry, in the photo. I joined Jam Today after the demise of another great women’s band, Spoilsports. In fact I think my first gig with JT was at the same event as my last with Spoilsports at the Drill Hall. I have photos somewhere but no idea of the date. I went on to learn the bass and played bass in Hi Jinx in the early 80’s after which I started to do my own music which culminated in the production of an album, There is no Going Back under the name Blue Gliss and ultimately set up my own studio, Bluebarn, http://www.myspace.com/bluebarnrocks. Harry plays drums and with Max (Taylor) my youngest son who plays bass, formed the rhythm section of Roots Manuva’s Awfully Deep tour and then the wonderful, late lamented Clor. Max then went on to tour with Groove Armada for a couple of years. Alison and Dierdre have pursued successful careers on the jazz world and Jackie moved to Sussex to run a cafe in Brighton with her partner. The womens music scene in the late 70’s and 80’s is great material for a novel or two. Anybody out there up for it?

  14. benni lees
    benni lees
    January 1, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I’m the bass player of the Stepney Sisters, we’ve recently got together in all of our sixtieth-ish years to record the material that we wrote and performed in the 70s at the most excellent Blue Barn. It’s been really interesting reading about JT, we played with them many times at afore mentioned benefits, conferences and workshops but I just wanted to point out re Nic’s comment on the film Rapunzel that the music included at least two of us Steppos, myself playing bass, some piano and vocals and Ruthie Smith on Sax and vocals with JT’s Deidre on guitar. The music was mainly written and mistress minded by Laka who sang and played keyboards but I remember composing a madrigal esque collage type thing for the animation section and Linda Malone wrote some French pseudo mediaeval lyrics for the prince, sung by Ben (drummer) a man! By this time Laka , Ruthie, Linda and I were playing with a mixed band called Soulyard.

  15. jackie crew
    jackie crew
    August 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    oh wow. what goes around comes around. i drummed with mother superior, jam today, tour de force, the guest stars (occasionally), and other bands…. dangerous designs and the pony tails. it’s fantastic to know so many people are looking back at the music made in the 70’s onwards. being involved in bands made up (mostly) of women and the politics involved really informed my life. could all this renewed interest lead to a huge gig where all the bands could reform and play? that would be awesome!

  16. Lee
    November 1, 2012 at 9:44 am

    My parents were emptying their loft at the weekend and found a memory box of mine. Inside was a lyric sheet which I picked up in ’81 from Harlow Playhouse where Jam Today were playing. I also had a copy of the EP which I played to death. Listening to the tracks took me back to being 17 again. Friend in You was quite a mantra for me at the time.

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