Bad Habits (formerly Mother Superior and the Bad Habits) 1982 – 1985

Angela Cooper, lead vocals; Claire; Janet Woollstonholme, bass and guitar; Jenny Clegg, lead guitar and bass; Luchia Fitzgerald, vocals, drums; Paulette, drums; Una Baines, keyboards

Manchester – see also Northern Women’s Liberation Rock Band

Very blurry old photo of two of the Bad Habits on stage, audience behind guitarists.

The Bad Habits gigging

Blurry photo of the Bad Habits performing on stage: keyboard and guitar players and singer, plus some audience members dancing in front.The Bad Habits were a locally-based Manchester band performing in the mid-1980s. The alternative scene in Manchester was beginning to take off at around this time after Factory records and the Hacienda had been set up.  Bands like the Fall were influential but only a few women musicians were involved. We were one of only two or three women’s bands in Manchester at this time.

Most of us had had previous experience in other bands – Angie, Luchia and Jenny in the Northern Women’s Liberation Rock Band (NWLRB), Janet in a band with her sisters, and Una as keyboard player with the Blue Orchids.  Although like the NWLRB we played rock and blues as well as reggae, we wrote more of our own material and developed a distinctive sound.  Our material reflected the concerns of the women’s movement at this time. As well as feminist songs like the Chicago Women’s Rock Band’s ‘Ain’t Gonna Marry’, we wrote and performed a song about the ‘Greenham Common Women’. Another one was ‘Big Strong Woman’ adapted from an Irish folk song ‘I Have Dreamed on This Mountain’ – this was around the time of the hunger strikes in Ireland and there was a strong Women and Ireland group in Manchester supporting women imprisoned in Armagh jail. There were also love songs like the uplifting ‘No Romance’ (Baines) and the poignant ‘You Were There’ (Cooper/Clegg) aimed to capture the reality of relationships as opposed to the saccharine fantasy of mainstream songs – and we thought of these songs as just as political as our other numbers.

The Bad Habits recorded four songs at a local studio – the lyrics of three of them are included below; the fourth was ‘Ain’t Gonna Marry’.  Later some of us went on to form other women’s bands such as ‘Five Famous Women,’ (with Kim, vocals; Carol, vocals and guitar; Sara, bass; Sue, drums) which played at the Stop Clause 28 event in Manchester in February 1988 at the Free Trades Hall social after the huge national march, which Angie helped to organise. Kim, Jenny, Carol, Sara and Sue went on to form the Moody Pinks with Brenda and Maggie joining on saxophones.

From a review in The Hulme Octopus, Issue 3:

“Getting Into Bad Habits …

….their commitment to women’s issues comes across right from the start. Their opening song ‘Ain’t Gonna Marry’ leaves no-one in any doubt as to their allegiance, and this mood of self-determination is continued through the lilting ‘Why Can’t We Be Together (?) and the assertive ‘Give My All For the Real Thing’. They demand all the integrity in relationships we could ask for, and the up-beat delivery saves it all from being heavy … Their song on Greenham was enthusiastically received, as was the strong and beautiful standard, ‘I Have Dreamed On This Mountain’.  It was obvious the enjoyment the group got out of performing.  What a change to see a band laughing and smiling their way through a set.  Especially I liked Angela’s powerful lead vocals and Janet’s work on bass guitar.  The delivery, I mush admit I found a little samey after a while.  On this point though I think too often women’s music, which is trying to find a new form is often judged by predominantly male experiences and style and can’t get inaccurately reviewed.  All in all … a cheery competent gig …”


 ‘These four tracks – Ain’t Gonna Marry’, a traditional blues from the USA; Greenham Common Song, written by Angela Cooper, Jenny Clegg and other band members; I Have Dreamed on This Mountain, Holly Near, adapted by women in Northern Island during the Troubles; You Were There, written by Angela Cooper, Jenny Clegg and other band members – were done in a small local basement and are the only properly recorded music we have from the Bad Habits.’ – Angela Cooper

Ain’t Gonna Marry

Greenham Common Song

We came to Greenham

In the rain the wind and the cold

We came from far and near

Young women and old

Chorus: And we all say no

No Cruise, no missiles, no bombs

No Cruise, no missiles, no bombs

No Cruise, no missiles, no bombs

No Cruise, no missiles, no bombs

We made a circle round the base

Holding each others hands

The message came out loud and clear

We’re here to make a stand

We don’t want missiles on this land

The Greenham women said

We’ll fight you anyway we can

We’re not afraid of your prisons

We claimed your fences we blocked your gate

You tried to evict us

We won’t let Raygun (Reagan) decide our fate

You can fight but we will win

You can’t kill the spirit it goes on and on…

I Have Dreamed on This Mountain

I have dreamed on this mountain since I first was my mother’s daughter

And you can’t just take my dreams away without me fighting

Not with me watching

You can fire a machine gun but I was born a big strong woman

And you can’t just take my dreams away without me fighting

This old mountain’s raised many daughters

Some died young, some still living

But if you’ve come for to take my mountain

Well we didn’t come here to give it up

You were there

You were there, unexpectedly so,

Your smiling eyes, we both said hello.

My new love was right by my side,

But I love you again, this moment in time

And we both know

Wanting what’s gone

The me and you that never died

She’s looking at you now and my love

Is looking away, looking away

You Were There

Angela Cooper notes a ‘shift in lyric content’ from their 1970s predecessor, the Northern Women’s Liberation Rock Band, whose songs reflected the themes of the women’s movement – abortion, drug companies, male chauvinism – to the Bad Habits who, during the 1980s, included ‘more songs about love, relationships and woman power in a more non-specific way.’ The song list shows how the band put their set together, which involved the problem of trying to get a balance between slow and fast, familiar and original material. ‘We played classics like ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’ Tamla and soul numbers and the Staple Singers ‘I’ll Take You There.’ Our gigs were more local than the NWLRB, as part of the WLM, had been.’

A typed sheet listing titles such as Ain't Gonna Marry, No Romance, Sense, Strength, Rude Girls, Greenham Common Women,  Big Strong Woman. Each song has information on song structure, e.g. 'Vocals start, 4 verses, instrumental, 4 verses, repeat last line.'

Bad Habits song list, page 1

A typed sheet listing titles such as Ain't Gonna Marry, No Romance, Sense, Strength, Rude Girls, Greenham Common Women,  Big Strong Woman. Each song has information on song structure, e.g. 'Vocals start, 4 verses, instrumental, 4 verses, repeat last line.'

Bad Habits song list, page 2

Hand-written list of sings describing qualities and tempo, e.g. Ain't Gonna Marry - blues, Sense - slow, Rude Girls - reggae/ska dance, Big Women - country/folk.

Bad Habits set running order


Banish Misfortune 1980s

Angele Veltmeyer, sax; Julia Doyle, bass; Linda da Mango, congas; Sined Jones, violin and vocals.

Fallen-Angel-ad 1988


Best Friends 1983 ~ 85

Maggie Nicols, vocals, piano; Vicky Scrivener, vocals, guitar

Duo playing original and standard numbers, gigged e.g. at Rackets women’s club in Liverpool Rd, Islington


Birmingham Women’s Music Network 1980s

Advert for Birmingham Women's Music Network Workshops Weekend, May 1982: vocals, saxophone, drums, bass and PA workshops, creche provided and a mixed evening social event.

from Spare Rib 119, 1982



Aba Maison, bass; Chris van Dyke, lead vocal and lead guitar; Deb Forster, drums; Lynne Paskaleff, backing vocals and rhythm guitar

Black and white photo of band. Smiling. Lynne sat across the other three members laps.

L-R Aba, Deb, Chris, Lynne. Photo (c) Viv Riley

Blueshouse and Carol Grimes flyer for a 1991 gig at Turnmills, London, a benefit for Hackney Women's Football ClubBlueshouse flier for three successive gigs at Chat's Palace, Turnmills nightclub and a free street festival, summer 1991. Picture of band on flier.


Bodhrans and Binlids 1989 ~ 1991

Al Jones, fiddle; Judy Coutinho, guitar, mandola; Julie McNamara, vocals, bodhran; Sarah Allen, flute.

Among other groups these women went on to play with were 1990’s Hangin’s Too Good For ‘Em (Elinor Harris, flute, vocals; Julie McNamara, vocals, bodhran; Mary McGaley, mandolin; Sheena Vallely, flute; Trish Sweeney, guitar, vocals) and ceilie band Fanny Power, with Maggie Casey, 1992-1993.Maggie continues working on the Folk Circuit and in Scotland running Ceilis and festival events. Julie McNamara pursues her solo career as a musician, playwright, actor, teacher and compere, and runs a theatre company, Vital Xposure.

Black and white photo of band in performance, playing bodhran, flute, fiddle and guitar.

Black and white photo of Bodhrans & Binlids in performance, playing bodhran, flute, fiddle and guitar, accordian also on stage.

Bodhrans and Binlids photos by audience members at Hen House women’s centre and Irish in Britain Representation Group gigs

Colour photograph of Julie McNamara singing or doing stand-up comedy, with microphone

Julie McNamara photo (c) Tony Fields

photos courtesy of Julie McNamara


Bradford Women Singers

Information on Bradford Women Singers: they share enjoyment of singing with political commitment, singing traditional and contemporary songs dealing with women's lives, work, home and love, to connect with people's struggles worldwide. Black and white drawing of the eight women's faces.

from Political Song News, issue 8


Brandy 1970 – ?

Audrey Swinburne, guitar;  Cathy Feeney, keyboards; Chris Leon, bass; Gill Sawerd, vocals, flute, congas, guitar; Val Lloyd, drums


The Brazen Hussies 1982 – 1983

Di McNeish, guitar and vocals; Miranda Williamson – now back to Forward, guitar, vocals, clarinet; Sheila Curran, vocals; Val Owen, vocals, guitar, percussion.

The Brazen Hussies were formed in Bradford at the height of the radical feminist Women’s Liberation Movement in the city. Di and Sheila were at university there, Val comes from Liverpool and Miranda is a Londoner. We started by getting together in each others’ flats and playing the current women’s songs and more general folk and blues songs we knew, just for ourselves. We enjoyed songs by Alix Dobkin, Cris Williamson, Peggy Seeger, and Greenham Women songs among others. We were taking part in many women’s events around West Yorkshire at the time, and started performing at some of these – conferences, fund-raisers, discos – we were the entertainment after the hard work! We wrote some of our own songs and performed covers as well. Many of our songs were sing-along ones and we always encouraged women to join in.

Four colour photographs of the Brazen Hussies, posing as a group and performing their songs. The pictures were taken either at a practice or at a performance in a community centre. The band look happy.

Some of the places we played in 1982/3 were:

Hebden Bridge – November 1982

Bradford (upstairs at the Star) – February 1983

Leeds University – March 1983

Manchester – March 1983

Middlesbrough – May 1983

Hull – June 1983

Bradford University – November 1983

When searching out information for this site, we were struck by how little we had – it was all done by word of mouth, a touch cloak-and-dagger. The local women’s groups at the time were – a Women’s Centre campaign in Halifax, various attempts to start Women’s Centres in cities like Bradford and Huddersfield, self-defence training, editing our newsletter, Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW).  Our last gig was called ‘Mrs Big’s Bop’ at Bradford University – there had been reports in the media of ‘angry women’ attacking sex shops at the time. The authorities just couldn’t understand who was in charge. Someone official was heard to say ‘we need to find Mr Big’. Hence our bop as a send-up.

 We’ve lost touch with Sheila so if you find this site, it would be great if you got in touch. Good times in hard years!


Bright Girls  1980

Bright Girls badge in punk style. Some letters back-to-front; bright pink background with yellow and pink text reading Bright Girls.

Black and white cut and paste photo with Bright Girls' members' faces collaged onto bodies.

Spare Rib 111, 1981 photo (c) Diane Ceresa

Debbie Trethaway, drums;

Jane Boston, harmonica;
Jen Green, rhythm guitar;
Jude Winter, electric piano; Rose Yates, bass;
Susy Taylor, vocals;
Tasha Fairbanks, sax

Black and white photo of Bright Girls playing keyboard, guitar, drums and singing.Black and white photo of seven members of the Bright Girls on a staircase.Book cover, yellow with drawing of two women on Brighton beach, with pier in background, red text reads 'It was going to be an explosive summer ... Bright Girls, Clare Chambers.'

Spare Rib benefit ad for event with the Bright Girls, York Women's Rock Band, disco, women only event at the Camden Centre, December 1982. White and red cartoon drawing of women dancing.

Spare Rib 114, 1982

The song Hidden From History was featured on Vaultage 80. Music by Bright Girls. Recorded at Sound Sense, Seaford. Bright Girls mp3’s can be found on the punkbrighton jukebox More info on  http://www.punkbrighton.co.uk/vaultlpc.html

“Entertainment for lesbians took a turn for the better thanks to radical feminists. Devil’s Dykes was started in 1977 as an all-women, and nearly all-lesbian, band. They shared a vault under the old Resource Centre in North Road (where the Brighthelm now stands) with a punk band called The Parrots. In 1980 the band metamorphosed into the Bright Girls with an all-lesbian line-up, four of whom were also shortly to become members of the lesbian theatre company, Siren. Siren’s plays were hard-hitting critiques of women’s position in the world with strong lesbian themes. They frequently premiered at the Marlborough or the Nightingale pub theatres to rapturous audiences of local lesbians. The company toured extensively until 1990.”


'Bright Girls' written in a cut paste style, white background with dashes of light green, blue and pink coloured pencil. The design style is chaotic, punk and home made.


Bristol Women’s Music Collective  1978 ~


Information on Bristol Women's Music Collective, formed 1978: singers, musicians, composers. Though the collective had disbanded, some members continued playing and appeared in a film on women's music in the city, made by Women in Moving Pictures.

from Spare Rib issue 102, 1981



Listing for Bryony playing June, 1984, in York Arts Centre: 'a female trio of singers and multi-instrumentalists who play traditional folk songs and tunes.'

from Spare Rib 143, 1984



Burning Brass

A Newcastle-based women’s band in 1982, whose gigs included playing on a couple of Reclaim the Night marches in Newcastle.

Article by Sue Hercombe about Burning Brass, who sound 'raucous, gutsy and celebratory' despite some members having less experience than others. They were a collective who encouraged other women to take up brass instruments, and played at women's events on Tyneside in the 80s. Photo of the five with in struments: trumpet, tuba, French horn, saxophone, clarinet..

Burning Brass article, Sue Hercombe, March 8 1982, The Journal

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  1. Pingback: Pride, Protest, Action, Art! (Part One) – North West Sound Heritage

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