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Rhoda Dakar feature interview – Win tickets & her new album

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We’ve been meaning to do a feature on Rhoda Dakar for a while at MIS, after all beyond being in The 2tone bands The Bodysnatchers & later Specials line ups both of which are of some interest to a lot of our readers, she has now also guested with not just Madness but The Invaders and The Dangermen too. That is surely is a unique CV right there and one worthy of our attension to mark.  With that in mind, now seems the best of times to point our spotlight her way as her new album is about to be released on Cherry Red records and it has a launch party in Camden Town imminent. So here is our compiled celebration and we’ve manage snatch a few words directly with the lady herself too, as well as set up a competition for you to attend her forthcoming show, read to the end to enter that prize draw.

Rhoda Sings The Bodysnatchers

Rhoda Dakar came to prominence as lead singer with multiracial all-girl band The Bodysnatchers on the legendary 2Tone label in 1980. 35 years on, she has recorded what is being described as “the lost 2Tone album”.

The Bodysnatchers scored two UK chart hits: ‘Let’s Do Rocksteady’ and ‘Easy Life’ on a 2 single deal with 2tone.  They also appeared in 2Tone’s Dance Craze movie & in the soundtrack LP,  alongside Madness and other ska bands of the era, but these were their only releases. The Bodysnatchers split up before a full album happened.

“We decided to go with 2Tone label, because of the tour (with other 2Tone acts) and all the other gigs. We worked very hard. And that contributed to the break-up.” Rhoda (Speaking to Ready-Steady-Ska.com)

Bodysnatchers – Easy Life (Dance Craze film)


Rocksteady (Top of the pops 1980)


To celebrate The Bodysnatchers’ 35th Anniversary, Rhoda assembled an all-star cast to record in effect a debut album of that era’s songs. Lynval Golding and Sir Horace Panter of The Specials star alongside members of Pama International, The Sidewalk Doctors and Intensified. Her live band for performance boasts other nutty boys Paul Tadman and Louise Vause amongst it’s numbers, and mad saxman Terry Edwards too.  The initial crowd funded release of the album was a success that lead to a wider distribution deal and a release with Cherry Red records.

The new album is released by Cherry Red November 6th. Some signed copies are available here.












Tickets here. For the album launch Camden Jazz Café Saturday 31st October.   (See Below for our Ticket Competition.)


Live at The Jazz Café April 2015


Here is a recent interview with Arise News, that Rhoda gave this year, ahead of appearing at The London international Ska Festival, which mentions the album.


The Specials Aka

Rhoda had guested as backing vocalist on The Specials’ More Specials album including a duet with Terry Hall on “I cant stand it”. After The Bodysnatchers she then joined Special AKA as lead singer, co-writing ‘Nelson Mandela’ as well as releasing her own single ‘The Boiler’ which was a harrowing account of low self esteem, abusive relationships which ends with a screaming rape scene. Unique and difficult subject matter, overlooked by many but loved by John Peel so impressively made the top 40 despite little airplay.

The Boiler – Here is a 16mm film shot for the song, rarely shown on TV back In the 80’s.


“I didn’t know about writing songs, but I knew how to improvise – I had originally wanted to act and had worked in the theatre on leaving school. Performing it live was acting, that’s all. A friend had been raped a couple of years earlier and I suppose I was thinking of her at the time. Recording it was a very long and drawn out process. It was released a year after it was first recorded” Rhoda (Talking to Marco on the Bass blog)

Working with Jerry Dammers in the specials aka line up included the seminal Free Nelson Mandela track.

Paul Williams remarks…

“Jerry Dammers could never recapture what made The Specials special after the 81 split. With what remained of the band he formed The Special AKA which brought its own problems. Their material was unashamedly hard hitting but what came from them was of course the anthemic track Nelson Mandela. This is probably Dammers’ magnum opus even more so than Ghost Town. It ruffled governing feathers here and in South Africa, it highlighted Mandelas plight and fight. It may not have led ultimately to Mandelas release but it certainly was one of many factors. The band werent chart friendly which hit them hard really especially as The album they made , In The Studio, had cost over a quarter of a million pounds to record but make no mistake they put out some great tunes that were by the large, ignored. Another part of the Specials colouful history…”

Free Nelson Mandela


The sessions for The Specials aka  In the studio album took a painful two years to produce.

“There was a whiff of Mental Illness in the air” Rhoda (Speaking to uncut Magazine)

In Red

Rhoda crossed paths with Madness again by the mid 80’s, amongst the many pop artists who appeared on the Red Wedge Tour, Rhoda chaired the committee in the political/musical movement.


“There wasn’t much sex and drugs and all that on Red Wedge. We didn’t throw TVs out of windows. The last night, we stayed in a castle at Chester-le-Street and got around to playing Murder in the Dark. Jerry Dammers somehow got put into a large box and didn’t get out again until the morning.” Rhoda (Talking to the Guardian)

Skaville And Solo

In 2007 Rhoda released a debut solo album “Cleaning in another Woman’s Kitchen”  working with Nick Welsh and Skaville uk, later following it with “Back to the Garage” album.

“Working with Nick is always fab. We have the same sense of humour (almost) and he’s very funny. Musically we’re into a lot of the same things, so I get all his references and vice versa. This is quite apparent on stage, the rapport really adds to the show” Rhoda (Talking to Marco on the Bass blog)

“Let me go is the best song I ever recorded” Rhoda (Speaking to DJ Chris Watts)



Rhoda On The Town

In 2008 Rhoda joined the Madness project that became The Liberty of Norton Folgate…

“I got a call from the band about a song Mike wrote, asking if I’d be up for singing on a track they were recording. They sent it over for me to have a listen first. A few days later, I was in the studio. From there we went to rehearsals at the Hackney Empire, as they’d asked me to come along and sing the song at the show.” Rhoda (2015 talking to MIS)

2008 Hackney Rehearsal on Chrissy Boy’s Axecam


She appeared in Julian Temple’s film version of the bands Hackney shows…

“I stood at the side of the stage during the gigs just grinning! I was willing them on – I was really blown away. Amazing tracks, brilliant staging and a wonderful theatre! A masterpiece!”  Rhoda (2015 Talking to MIS)

2009 on Chrissy Boy’s Axecam


…following this up with appearances at the 02, and Madstock in 2009. (Included in the goggle box Madstock a Fans Tale DVD release.) Rhoda last returned to perform the song on Folgate Friday in 2013 inducting her into the House of Fun way of Madness weekendering for the first time.

The Danger Woman & Invaders

In November 2014 Rhoda returned to guesting with Madness, appearing in their Dangermen Vs The Invaders show set.

“It’s always a pleasure to work with old friends.

I did like Feeling So Fine, though it took some effort to sing up there in the gods! [on that raised butlins stage].

The Dangermen track I enjoyed most was Lose A Good Thing. Lee and I had some nice harmonies going on.” Rhoda

(2015 Talking to MIS)

John Jones from The Dangermen set.


Nutty Girl

Time and again then Rhoda has proven she’s a true part of 2 tone and Jamaican ska, reggae, rocksteady music cannons, and pop and rock and roll too,  in a career not prolific perhaps, but full of chapters that match intrigue with the music world through continual collaboration and some high profile moments of unique artistry. She’s tackled serious subject matters, and sang and skanked many a stage entertaining us just for pure fun, all of which sounds like our world of Madness to us. We could well conclude she’s Madness’ first lady now. But one final point to check on that score, is she a nutty girl? We witnessed a mischievous quip while on stage with The lee Thompson ska orchestra at The house of fun once that reveals we think the right level of naughty but nice antics. Arriving for just one day she ended up kidnapped somewhat for that weekend, only to return teamed up to DJ the following year.

“DJing was the usual mix of high jinx and chaos! Wendy May and me had come up with the Big Girls Blouses tag the previous year. I wanted a blouse with ‘Slocombe’ on the back! Costumes aside, we had a laugh anyway. The Silent Disco was a weird one to do – two sets of headphones, just to confuse me!”  Rhoda (2015 talking to MIS)

She DJed the opening of Spain’s Nutty Bar too this last year, fun in the sun and as for a bit of mindless slapstick this clip from old Tiswas in our Miswas film, we submit as proof she’s was once game for a bath!

Miswas. Rhoda’s Moment.


“Tiswas – I just remember being wet and cold for a couple of hours. Our water was freezing! It really was bonkers. I came back from Birmingham with soaking wet hair full of compost. The next afternoon, in London, many of the bands went off to a screening of the Dance Craze footage that had been shot up to that point.” Rhoda (2015 talking to MIS)

Our Many thanks to Rhoda, for help with our profile feature and best of luck with the new album release and future touring, we hope we see her in future Madness & related projects down the line in whatever capacity.


Win 2 Tickets To The Camden Town Show – Rhoda Dakar Sings The Bodysnatchers

31st of October – Camden Jazz Cafe.

Which Dangermen track did Rhoda enjoy singing the most with the band at The House of Fun Weekender?

Email your answer to Jonsmad@hotmail.com

Correct answers enter a random number draw for 2 entrance tickets to the concert, must be able to attend that date.

Offer closes in one month, October 20th. No transferable prizes. winner must reply in 24 hours of notification of winning email from the above address to claim.


Now additional prize, win a press promo edition of Rhoda Dakar Sings The Bodysnatchers. In a unique slim sleeve, and comes with an a4 press release page.

If you have already entered this competition via the MIS mail out you are already in the draw for this album. If you are yet to enter and wish to enter only to win the album not Tickets as you are unable to attend the concert, enter and title your email rhoda album.

Jonathan Young

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