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On-U Sound In The Area

Act Judy Nylon

Judy Nylon in recent times
Judy Nylon in recent times (Source:

The fledgling On-U Sound provided a post-punk era home for many artists in London at the start of the 1980s. Amongst them was American ex-pat' Judy Nylon

Sophisticated social samurai, ex-glam punk Judy Nylon was near the centre of many storms in her brief but interesting career but always had a knack for surviving gloriously. Abandoning New York for London in 1981, no-wave singer Nylon teamed with Pat Palladin to form Snatch. It was a truly hit-and-miss artsy-fartsy duo, attracting the attention of Brian Eno. Ultimately they teamed up with Eno to make the German-inspired sound collage "R.A.F.", which appeared on the B-side of his "King's Lead Hat" 45.

The "Snatch EP" features Nylon and Palladin teaming up for a pseudo-Tom Waits blues drone called "Shopping For Clothes" and the softly electronic ballad, "Joey", as well as "Red Army", which imitates the technique and style of "R.A.F.". Clever and inventive, the work has gentle strength, bitter humour and a thoroughly jaundiced world view.

The 'Pal Judy' LP
The "Pal Judy" LP

Her solo album, "Pal Judy" (ON-U LP16), which she co-produced with Adrian Sherwood, grafts Snatch's blues poetics and electronic compositional structures onto fairly straightforward rock music and has the audiophile cachet of being eternally elusive, perhaps heard only on some late-night pirate radio show. The result, a moody, adeptly created and performed record suggestive of Patti Smith, smacks of modernised cocktail-lounge music (in the best tradition of that genre).

Nylon's vocals are acrid and funny in their scope, but the record is stolen by her laconic, opiated rendition of "Jailhouse Rock". Nylon's beat-inspired lyrical extrapolations were well-suited to Sherwood's expansive sonic collage. It's a tremendously seductive record that certainly gave rise to the opinion that Nylon was embarking on an interesting solo career.

The 'Carlotta' single
The "Carlotta" single

Nylon is perhaps most famous for an incident that is, by now, one of the most apocryphal incidents in post-modern music. As Brian Eno lay convalescing after an accident, Nylon brought him a record of 18th-century harp music and later, while listening to it half awake with the volume down low, he discovered the magic of background, of ambience - or so it is told and retold.

Sadly, apart from one other 7" single, "Carlotta", "Pal Judy" is all we have to show for Nylon the solo artist. Ex-cohort 'Palladin recorded a great record of covers ("Copy Cats") with Johnny Thunders, but has also been largely absent from music ever since.

(Compiled from articles at: and

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