F-wording their way through the second single “Bouffant Headbutt”, sarf east London teenage band Shampoo arrived in 1994 like a pair of jailbait Barbies – licensed to do pretty much whatever they wanted. Actually.
Best friends Jacqui Blake and Carrie Askew, started “Last Exit” fanzine in 1991, while still pupils at Plumstead Manor School. It was entirely dedicated to their heroes of the moment, the Manic Street Preachers, and their dedication even scored them a cameo role in the Manics video for “Little Baby Nothing”.
Straight out of the “attitude is everything” sub-genre of Pop, Shampoo named themselves after their schoolyard nickname “the shampoo girls” – a moniker allegedly given to them after turning down dates, claiming that they were busy “washing their hair”.
So the friendship became the fanzine, and the fanzine became the band, and with their Indie cred still on the rise, they duo released their first single “Blisters and Bruises” (co-written with Lawrence from Felt/Denim) on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs label, Icerink in 1993.
By 1994, and this time via Food Records, Shampoo went on to have a bona-fide massive top twenty hit with “Trouble”. Of course they did.
Citing their influences as the Sex Pistols, the Manics, East 17 and the Beastie Boys, Jacqui and Carrie couldn’t have been much clearer. From biting the heads off grafittied Barbie dolls, changing their band’s amps “Marshall” logos to read “Shampoo”, to their bolshy, mouthy, bratty performances, Shampoo wore their influences on their customised sleeves. The daring duo received reviews from both ends of the spectrum, music papers NME and Melody Maker understood their arch post-punk rock-ery doling out Single of the Week accolades and column inches in their favour, others accused them of being manufactured and selling out. In a sense they were both right. Carrie and Jacqui’s invention, born out of boredom, creativity, and suburban bedrooms, WAS manufactured….but by themselves, and that’s exactly why it was so punk rock.
Rejected by the Riot Grrrl movement, Shampoo were seen by some as major label sellout puppets and were even written off as “Shampoo = Miss June And July of the Paedophile Calendar”, in Poppy/Violet riotzine. Shampoo responded in the most Catherine Tate “bovvered” way possible and name checked the movement straight back, in their song “Viva La Megababes”, “Hippy chicks are sad and supermodels suck, Riot girls, diet girls, who really gives a f***!”
Apparently, someone who was giving an actual f*** and paying attention, was avid popular culture vulture Geri Horner, who in a 2016 interview with Vice.com reveals where the Spicers own favourite tag line originated;
“I ask Horner if she’d ever heard of Hanna and Riot Grrrl. She grimaces, pulls a confused face, and shakes her head. “No.” So where did Girl Power come from? “The band Shampoo,” she says. “I saw them and I thought, Oh my God, that is so good.”
Carrie and Jacqui took bedroom bitching, and teen girl inventiveness to a whole new level. Even the name Shampoo has echoes of the consumer-driven disposable world highlighted by Poly Styrene, and song titles like “School Is Boring” and “We Play Dumb” would not look out-of-place on a Runaways or Ramones album. With 5 UK top 40 hits and album sales in excess of 1 million worldwide, Shampoo screamed, sulked, peered over the top of their sunglasses, ripped up their homework, over-ordered, threw up in the back of the cab, and left just as suddenly as they had arrived.
Now, it might just be us, but isn’t there something of the Villanelle about Shampoo?… or maybe that should be the other way round. Shampoo were Pop’s unexpected and very stylish assassins. Always immaculately presented, sweet looking even, but then before you had the chance to take cover, POW!
“Trouble” was also included on the soundtrack to “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – The Movie”, and was also covered by Carter USM as the b-side of The Young Offenders Mum.
If anyone knows Carrie and Jacqui….we would love to talk to them.