Vivien Goldman Launderette / Private Armies 7″ reissue

Journalist VIVIEN GOLDMAN was one of the key voices in the late ’70s UK press to acknowledge the profound influence of Jamaican music on England’s emerging punk and post-punk scenes, and after being inspired by her female friends like the SLITS who were starting bands without having much (or any) prior musical experience, she recorded a one-off single in 1981 (thanks to studio time borrowed from fellow dub enthusiasts PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED) that became a certified punky reggae classic, now newly reissued. On “Launderette,” GOLDMAN recounts a soured laundry room romance in a lilting voice over wandering, slow-throb dub bass (by George Oban of the reggae group ASWAD) that provides the song’s primary foundation, filled in by rattling percussion, some distant violin warble courtesy of Vicky Aspinall of the RAINCOATS, and sparse, scratchy guitar from PiL’s Keith Levene. B-side “Private Armies” follows a similar sonic trajectory but takes a much sharper lyrical turn, addressing structural racist violence in the UK amplified by a culture of toxic masculinity and exacted by skinheads, cops, and “heavy metal boys,” with VIVIEN intently chanting lines like “If you can’t get a hard-on, get a gun” over a drawn-out, simmering rhythm. Still relevant, both musically and (unfortunately) topically.