Sunday, June 03, 2007


"Are you a part of the problem, or are you a part of the solution? Get yer arses in gear, I haven't got all day!"

"You've got ten seconds to decide! Chinese or Indian?"

"Kick out The Jam motherfuckers! The only people who still like Paul Weller are fat cockney roof fitters!"

Yes, I'm talking about incendiary Detroit rockers MC5. Some people would say they were the catalyst for the exciting "new wave" sound that took off years later (mad, incendiary groups like The Photos, Tonight, Radio Stars and The Yachts, all of whom used to regularly decapitate people from the audience when they played "gigs"). MC5 nearly started a revolution across America all by themselves!

However, all their good work was undermined by the fact that their singer, Rob Tyner, looked like a charlady.

MC5's Rob Brydon

With his frizzy perm, gappy teeth and tendency to wear glittery blouses, it's not difficult to imagine Rob in a gingham nylon overall, grumbling about how long he has got to wait in the NHS queue to get his varicose veins done, and how those support tights aren't much help really.

Did anybody else pick up on this important addition to the rock canon (um, Charladies In Rock, in case you've already forgotten)?

Well, of course.

Once a charlady, always a charlady

Steve Jones from The Sex Pistols for one. This is his great Peter Cook/Charlady crossover performance. The one that inspired the Jonathan Coe novel The Fucking Rotters' Club.

Since the '70's, however, sightings of Rocking Charladies have been pretty rare.

However, that all changed earlier this year with the arrival of Just Jack, who took the hit parade by storm with his song Starz In Their Eyes.

Just Jack with granddaughter: "She's ever so clever. She's doing that - what do you call it? Media Studies With Combined Photography, that's it, at college."

Not only does Jack have the classic pinched charlady features, the hectoring tone used in the song sounds like a nagging,chainsmoking old woman ...

"Why do you want to go and put stars in their eyes?
When I was their age I wasn't gallivanting about in front of that Simon Cowell
Looking like a trollop.
When I was their age I was working down the pits.
I remember when I got me first wages at the end of the week - a whole thruppenny bit!
I felt like a princess.
They don't know the value of anything these days.
She's no better than she should be.
Money goes to money, that's what I always say.
Still, mustn't grumble, eh?
I'll have to go in, I've left some peas boiling on the hob."

Has anybody else seen any Charladies In Rock? It's important that this long overlooked rock 'n' roll byway gets the recognition it deserves.

"Can I do yer now sir?"

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No, I didn't understand a word.
Norman Cook? He looks a bit Hilda Ogden, I reckon...
Vicus - I'm still doing something right then.

Kek - yeah, Norma Cook - that would be a good charlady name. Well, I know his really name is something like Sir Quentin Farnes Barnes ...
Keith Richards.


Usually in his bandanna, I couldn't find an appropriate photo
I am with Vicus on this one, Betty. My gramophone is broken at the moment and so I can't play my Pickety Witch wax discs.
Still, I did think of a trio for your collection. How about the legendary Hilda Baker when she performed that infinitely superior version of You're The One That I Want with the rock God who was Arthur Mullard? Then, of course, there is Leo Sayer (the happy, permed char lady) and let's not forget Dave Hill from Slade (the "hairdresser said it was all the rage" char lady).
Showing my age a bit, I know, but I don't get out as much as I used to.
Annie - I can definitely see Keef with a mop and bucket and wearing a nylon overall. Mind you, most charladies take a different form of medications (pills for their nerves, that sort of thing).

Reg - Leo Sayer, yes. Dave Hill is my Thick Brummie soul brother! Hilda Baker and Arthur Mullard's version of You're The One That I Want on TOTP is a classic of awfulness. I think the song went down the charts the week after they appeared on there. Will have to look it up on YouTube.
People who say "Are you a part of the problem, or are you a part of the solution?" are themselves part of the problem.
I think charladies (real not rock) are an endangered species. The cleaners in our flats are all fit lads.
We should start a 'Save the Charlady' campaign.
I think 'Mop Rock' is the last one in the Seven Ages of Rock series, after Crock Rock, Sock Rock and the others; maybe the charladies will be on that one.
Billy - isn't it going to create more problems informing people who go around asking other people if they're part of the problem that they're part of the problem? Who are the people who are part of the solution, and is it a problem trying to get them to understand that they're part of the solution?

*goes off to take a couple of Paracetemol*

Kaz - if only I had the power! Clearners aren't even called cleaners anymore - they're "domestic assistants" or somesuch. Nowadays, women don't want to walk around in nylon overalls wearing their hair in curlers. Well, apart from me of course.

Realdoc - yeah, the Moptops were at the centre of the Charlady movement. Remember John Lennon at the London Palladium - "will the rest of you just rattle your crockery?"
I nominate Les Gray from Mud.
I gather from your response to the Billster's comment that you are secretly doin' an Open University philosophy degree, hence your 'semi-retirement'. Dark 'oss!
myself a former charlady, i nominate Sir Elton John. you can't tell me that's not a pair of housemaids knees under there.
or Bernie Taupins head, if it comes to that.
Madness did the charladies thing in their House of Fun video, as I recall.
Arabella - dear old Les, gawd rest his soul. The guitarist looked like a charlady done up for an annual dinner and dance.

First Nations - I'm sure that Elton has got big, lardy arms which are a good charlady attribute. I bet he can spot a spec of dust on skirting boards at twenty paces as well.

Doris - true, Madness seemed to find any excuse to dress up as charladies in a video.
It's not Rob Brydon in those MC5 pictures it's Lenny Peters without his glasses on! Dead ringer I'd say.
Rockmother - obviously. You never saw either of them together in the same place. The MC5 were never on Opportunity Knocks for that reason. They both "died" within a couple of years of each other (allegedly). It all fits together now ...
Wasn't Hilda Ogden the landlady when The Smiths used to live in digs?
I'd like to think so. Hilda's singing style definitely had an influence on Morrissey.
Let us not overlook Bernie Bloody Taupin! Those dreadful bangs were a dead giveaway and a cry for help. Two Rooms was an obvious reference to his per hour cleaning schedule at Chez Elton.

I am also positive that he wrote the lyrics to Starship's We Built This City as a direct result of inhaling copious amounts of Pine-Sol Cleaner over the years!
Poor Bloody Bastard.
Imagine having to work as Elton's cleaner. Imagine ... no wonder you'd end up inhaling household cleaning agents.
"The Fucking Rotters' Club."

[...sound of Bob asphyxiating...]

..ewr hem., That's better.

OK, Charladies in rock?

Roy Orbison (without bthe glasses, obviously...

Led Zeppelin...

Jerry Lee Lewis...

Or is it Danny Kaye??...

Bette Midler...

Hope you have a lovely time in Cornwall Betty,

L.U.V. on ya,

Thank you Bob. I've tried to get The Rotter's Club out of the library to take on holiday but no luck. Serves me right for being a cheapskate.

Jerry Lee Lewis: "great balls of cheese!" as they said on that '80's advert for Edam. Led Zeppelin look spot on, except that Jimmy Page has got much less hair now.
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