Bodysnatchers – The Boiler [peel session]

• “The Boiler [peel session]” set to an image of Miranda (sax), Penny (boards) and SJ (guitar). Thanks to Vibracobra23 Redux.

9.0 “Classic Ska / Rocksteady from England”

2-Tone aficionados have long lamented the dearth of material put out by The Bodysnatchers during their 2-year existence.

Compounding the frustration was the fact that they had recorded 8 tracks in 2 Peel sessions, April and August 1980, none of which saw release in any version or any form at all.

These sessions have now been uploaded by tapers to YouTube, which is the only way to hear them, so if you want ’em you’ll need to do it the old fashioned way – by “taping it” off the internet.

“The Boiler” was the first song written by the group – they wanted it released as a single, but Chrysalis (2-Tone’s enabler) were not prepared to take the commercial risk of having a song about rape in their distribution network.

Rhoda Dakar’s lyrics were based a real-life experience of one of her friends in the late 70s. With the song in her heart, she took it with her when the Bodysnatchers split and eventually, it saw release when it was reworked by Jerry Dammers, who thought so highly of the importance of making the statement that it was released as the Specials follow up to “Ghost Town”, with Rhoda taking lead vocals and another ex-Bodysnatcher, Nicky Summers, guesting on bass guitar.

“Ghost Town” was probably the bleakest single ever to top the UK Charts. The follow up made it seem like a Mary Poppins out-take. In January ’82, “The Boiler” by Rhoda and The Special AKA overcame all the obstacles and odds by taking a radio-banned song about date rape into the UK Top 40. Once heard it was never forgotten and indeed, Jerry Dammers is on record as saying “it is the only record that was ever made quite deliberately to be listened to once and once only”.

The Specials version stands as the masterpiece, but the song was a classic from the day it was made, as evidenced here by the hard-hitting, no-frills original. The chipper nature of the first half belies the self-esteem issues of the protagonist, but the harrowing developments leave little doubt as to how it feels to be a victim.

All credit to Rhoda for having the balls and the perseverance to get it out there.

This YouTube video seems to be an FM quality capture of this unreleased track, which is great news, and makes for a decent listen. It was recorded in session for the John Peel show on 8th April 1980 and first broadcast 14th April 1980.

Catch the complete session here.

1 thought on “Bodysnatchers – The Boiler [peel session]

  1. Pingback: 'The Boiler' Is The First Pop Song About Rape | Unicorn Booty

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