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Cinderella's Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground

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Cinderella’s Big Score celebrates the contributions of punk’s oft-overlooked female artists, explores the latent—and not so latent—sexism of indie rock (so often thought of as the hallowed ground of progressive movements), and tells the story of how these women created spaces for themselves in a sometimes limited or exclusionary environment. The indie music world is litter Cinderella’s Big Score celebrates the contributions of punk’s oft-overlooked female artists, explores the latent—and not so latent—sexism of indie rock (so often thought of as the hallowed ground of progressive movements), and tells the story of how these women created spaces for themselves in a sometimes limited or exclusionary environment. The indie music world is littered with females who have not only withstood the racket of punk’s intolerance, but have twisted our societal notions of femininity in knots. Raha focuses on the United States and England in the 70s and 80s, and illuminates how the seminal women of this time shaped the female rockers of the 90s and today. Groups profiled range from The Runaways, The Slits, and The Plasmatics to L7, Sleater-Kinney, and Le Tigre. The book includes women not often featured in "women in rock" titles, such as Exene Cervenka of X, Eve Libertine and Joy de Vivre of Crass, and Poison Ivy Rorschach of the Cramps. Includes rare interviews and more than forty B&W photos.


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Cinderella’s Big Score celebrates the contributions of punk’s oft-overlooked female artists, explores the latent—and not so latent—sexism of indie rock (so often thought of as the hallowed ground of progressive movements), and tells the story of how these women created spaces for themselves in a sometimes limited or exclusionary environment. The indie music world is litter Cinderella’s Big Score celebrates the contributions of punk’s oft-overlooked female artists, explores the latent—and not so latent—sexism of indie rock (so often thought of as the hallowed ground of progressive movements), and tells the story of how these women created spaces for themselves in a sometimes limited or exclusionary environment. The indie music world is littered with females who have not only withstood the racket of punk’s intolerance, but have twisted our societal notions of femininity in knots. Raha focuses on the United States and England in the 70s and 80s, and illuminates how the seminal women of this time shaped the female rockers of the 90s and today. Groups profiled range from The Runaways, The Slits, and The Plasmatics to L7, Sleater-Kinney, and Le Tigre. The book includes women not often featured in "women in rock" titles, such as Exene Cervenka of X, Eve Libertine and Joy de Vivre of Crass, and Poison Ivy Rorschach of the Cramps. Includes rare interviews and more than forty B&W photos.

30 review for Cinderella's Big Score: Women of the Punk and Indie Underground

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    You know, I should rate this book higher. I was excited because the book reads like a who's who of my favorite kool rock chicks, from Patti Smith to Kim Gordon to Peaches and everything in between. I thought I was buying a book of interviews or in-depth profile articles. Nothing of the sort. This is essentially a primer. Hip Rock Ladies 101. Each chapter is devoted to a different underground rock chick, sharing the basics of their contributions to post-modern culture. Great if you are going through You know, I should rate this book higher. I was excited because the book reads like a who's who of my favorite kool rock chicks, from Patti Smith to Kim Gordon to Peaches and everything in between. I thought I was buying a book of interviews or in-depth profile articles. Nothing of the sort. This is essentially a primer. Hip Rock Ladies 101. Each chapter is devoted to a different underground rock chick, sharing the basics of their contributions to post-modern culture. Great if you are going through that youthful "there's more to music than Pink" phase and looking below the surface for something edgier. Not really so great for people who have already been there and done that. So, like, I don't know. Find a 'tweenie girl who desperately needs to know she is part of a line of insane genius buttkickers and give her a copy - she needs the read more than you do.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Johanna

    So I finished this several weeks ago and finally feel ready to write a review. I read it as background research for an exhibit I'm working on. Mostly, I liked it. Like Raha, I'm a fan of a lot of the women in this book, and it was really fun to read a little deeper into their histories and art. That said, the academic in me often got frustrated with the writing. At least Raha states at the outset of the book that she's a fan and that in the writing of the book she found it very hard to maintain an So I finished this several weeks ago and finally feel ready to write a review. I read it as background research for an exhibit I'm working on. Mostly, I liked it. Like Raha, I'm a fan of a lot of the women in this book, and it was really fun to read a little deeper into their histories and art. That said, the academic in me often got frustrated with the writing. At least Raha states at the outset of the book that she's a fan and that in the writing of the book she found it very hard to maintain any level of objectivity; kudos for owning up to your bias, I guess. But her love of the music she's writing about often blinds her to the more unpleasant aspects of the punk and indie underground, and undermines her larger points about feminism and the DIY ethic. She spends a lot of time hating on R&B/soul/blues performers (almost entirely female and either African-American or mixed race), claiming that their music is somehow anathema to feminism, but ignores the cultural, sociological, and political roots of those styles of music*. At the same time she BARELY addresses the lack of racial diversity in her lineup of punk idols, or really the whole punk scene. Here's what I really think my disgruntlement boils down to. We live in a world today where there's an awful lot of women bashing other women for their looks or their sexuality or their personal choices, something that to me, is inherently un-feminist. We've got enough other forces working against us to fall prey to sniping at one another because we think her hair is too short, or her heels are too high. So it was pretty upsetting to me to read a self-professed feminist tearing apart other women and declaring them un-feminist or less worthy of your attention, just because she doesn't like their music, or thought they presented themselves as too romantic or too sexy. But lest all of this scare you away, it's still a good cursory look at some of the most influential women in punk and indie music. But read it as a fellow fan, not as an academic. *I will say Raha does have some compelling commentary on the generally male-dominated pop-music machine that got its tentacles on many of the performers she pans.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jess McCabe

    This is a fleeting and quick exploration of women's punk history. Each musician only gets a page or two each, and Raha relies heavily (exclusively?) on media coverage and other people's books, rather than interviewing the women she profiles herself. Not to say the result isn't revealing or interesting. But the book functions best as sort of extended sleeve notes/beginner's guide - look up the artists on spotify or whatever, and listen to a couple of tracks while reading Raha's brief overview for This is a fleeting and quick exploration of women's punk history. Each musician only gets a page or two each, and Raha relies heavily (exclusively?) on media coverage and other people's books, rather than interviewing the women she profiles herself. Not to say the result isn't revealing or interesting. But the book functions best as sort of extended sleeve notes/beginner's guide - look up the artists on spotify or whatever, and listen to a couple of tracks while reading Raha's brief overview for background. The majority of these artists will be very familiar to punk/riot grrrl fans, but it still exposed me to some new/old artists. This is definitely a *feminist* history, not just a history of artists that happen to be women: Raha examines the political/feminist content or lack thereof of the music, but also (briefly) fills in some of the context around the gender politics of the punk, metal and indie scenes from which they emerged. Women's punk didn't occur in a vacuum, and it's important context for punk and metal fans to know about the festivals with all-male line ups, sexual assaults in the mosh pit, abuse of women in the crowd and on the stage.

  4. 4 out of 5

    C.A.

    PUNK ROCK SAVED MY LIFE! PUNK ROCK SAVED MY POEMS! Maria Raha SAVED my understanding of what I LOVE, and what I missed, but it's NEVER TOO LATE BABY! MOST SINCERELY, CAConrad http://CAConrad.blogspot.com PUNK ROCK SAVED MY LIFE! PUNK ROCK SAVED MY POEMS! Maria Raha SAVED my understanding of what I LOVE, and what I missed, but it's NEVER TOO LATE BABY! MOST SINCERELY, CAConrad http://CAConrad.blogspot.com

  5. 5 out of 5

    Therese

    Maria Raha celebrates the contributions women have made to the punk and indie music scene over the past three decades, while also exploring the unsurprising amount of sexism and prejudice they fought against. I love this book simply because it exists as a kind of love letter to many of the women who inspired me to assert myself creatively and changed the way I saw the world, as well as exposing me to different types of music, art, and literature that I probably wouldn't have found otherwise. Whic Maria Raha celebrates the contributions women have made to the punk and indie music scene over the past three decades, while also exploring the unsurprising amount of sexism and prejudice they fought against. I love this book simply because it exists as a kind of love letter to many of the women who inspired me to assert myself creatively and changed the way I saw the world, as well as exposing me to different types of music, art, and literature that I probably wouldn't have found otherwise. Which is not to say that this book is perfect. Most of the information about each band or musician appears to be sourced mainly from interviews, and Raha hardly delves deep into the artists' themselves, instead providing only a brief biography of each. I'm sure everyone who reads "Cinderella's Big Score" will have a list of musicians they think should have been included. I found it particularly galling that Mary Timony didn't warrant inclusion despite having infused all of her bands and solo projects with her independent attitude. Likewise, Diamanda Galas deserved a chapter of her own but was barely mentioned, leaving me to wonder if she was perhaps too difficult or extreme for Raha's tastes, even after a career spent battling AIDS related prejudice, religious hypocrisy, oppression, and genocide through her music. But despite it's flaws, this book was still a timely reminder to me of all the greatness that is out there to experience and support.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    This book is essential if you are a music fan, especially if you want to learn more about influential women in the punk movement. (Their contributions are typically played down or ignored altogether.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erin Tuzuner

    In a word... disappointing. The ideas and reference points are all there, but the stale summaries of women in rock being contrasted to men in rock ad infinitum was a let down. Many of these women are/underground and more deserving than a blurbish 2 page assessment.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    just got this a week ago for my birthday and already read it and want to read it again

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jena

    Awesome. A great representation of women in punk rock!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    Not a lot of substance, really more like a reference book, but I did listen to a lot of things that I hadn’t before (Avengers!) so it was totally worth it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    It seems like all reviews of this book either fall into the "Wow! This book taught me so much!" category or the "I already knew all of this stuff why am I reading this?" category. For me, it was the latter. As others have stated, I was under the impression I was going to be getting a bunch of new information/interviews about artists I've loved forever. Rather, every chapter was more like a slimmed-down Wikipedia entry, all of which can be summed up with something along the lines of "Her powerful It seems like all reviews of this book either fall into the "Wow! This book taught me so much!" category or the "I already knew all of this stuff why am I reading this?" category. For me, it was the latter. As others have stated, I was under the impression I was going to be getting a bunch of new information/interviews about artists I've loved forever. Rather, every chapter was more like a slimmed-down Wikipedia entry, all of which can be summed up with something along the lines of "Her powerful vocals and inventive lyrics soared over the voices of her male contemporaries!!!" If you are new to punk music and want a jumping off point to learn more about the women that shaped the movement, by all means check it out. But if the grooves in your Cramps vinyls are worn down and you own an original Riot Grrrl zine, pass this up and save yourself the eye-rolls.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Being a rock-n-roller at heart, I was initially intimidated by this book, anticipating references would fly over my head and leave me with a nohawk, but I had nothing to fear. Raha is an excellent host to this rollicking, no-holds-barred party with some of the most compelling personalities I've ever met on the page (musicians are rarely a boring bunch, so imagine artists who risk rape, ridicule and years of hard work for possibly zero recognition). Expertly weaving choice quotes and anecdotes wi Being a rock-n-roller at heart, I was initially intimidated by this book, anticipating references would fly over my head and leave me with a nohawk, but I had nothing to fear. Raha is an excellent host to this rollicking, no-holds-barred party with some of the most compelling personalities I've ever met on the page (musicians are rarely a boring bunch, so imagine artists who risk rape, ridicule and years of hard work for possibly zero recognition). Expertly weaving choice quotes and anecdotes with well-drawn portraits of history's "queens of noise," Cinderella's Big Score democratizes the other half of the underground music scene that even now is mostly the province of "people-in-the-know." This is an essential and entertaining read for its facts, folklore and marvelous descriptions of music. I can't recommend it enough.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Yasmeen Zahzah

    A lot of reviews have criticized this book for being more of a sampler than an in-depth examination of women in music, which is undeniably true: a deeper, more thorough examination of each artist (including interviews) would have been excellent. However, this criticism may be attributed to the fact that the history women in music is something we cannot get enough of! I do think the book did an excellent job of addressing and explaining the hypocrisy of the punk movement in its introduction/prefac A lot of reviews have criticized this book for being more of a sampler than an in-depth examination of women in music, which is undeniably true: a deeper, more thorough examination of each artist (including interviews) would have been excellent. However, this criticism may be attributed to the fact that the history women in music is something we cannot get enough of! I do think the book did an excellent job of addressing and explaining the hypocrisy of the punk movement in its introduction/preface, something that is often neglected. The failure of punk to live up to its outlined philosophy is usually spoken of in generalities whereas Raha made sure to explicitly outline why punk's marginalization/mistreatment of women was so idealistically corrupt.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I didn't really love the quality of the writing or analysis in this book, but it's a good overview, particularly if you're like me and had managed to overlook an awful lot of these artists (not even just the obscure ones.) It is awfully nice to have the Internet handy to be able to look up pictures and songs, because the book is very descriptive but pretty light on images. I think this review does a good job of mentioning the shortcomings in the analysis & also the strengths in terms of the gaps I didn't really love the quality of the writing or analysis in this book, but it's a good overview, particularly if you're like me and had managed to overlook an awful lot of these artists (not even just the obscure ones.) It is awfully nice to have the Internet handy to be able to look up pictures and songs, because the book is very descriptive but pretty light on images. I think this review does a good job of mentioning the shortcomings in the analysis & also the strengths in terms of the gaps that it covers: http://feministmusicgeek.com/2010/01/...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    I enjoyed reading this book because it reminded me (though I hardly need to be reminded) why I love most of these influential musicians. I didn't really learn anything new though. As most people have stated, it reads like a sampler—an introduction to punk and indie's heroines—especially for those of us who want more depth, interviews, and the like. By all means, hand it to someone who has limited knowledge about this sort of thing, but if you're pretty seasoned in the world of punk and indie, th I enjoyed reading this book because it reminded me (though I hardly need to be reminded) why I love most of these influential musicians. I didn't really learn anything new though. As most people have stated, it reads like a sampler—an introduction to punk and indie's heroines—especially for those of us who want more depth, interviews, and the like. By all means, hand it to someone who has limited knowledge about this sort of thing, but if you're pretty seasoned in the world of punk and indie, then you already know all this stuff and are surely familiar with most of these musicians & their work. Gimme more!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    for those of us that are already familiar with punk, post-punk, new wave, no wave, riot grrrl, etc. or just feminism in general this is a handy review. probably won't learn anything new, but Raha's writing flows smoothly enough, and is fun for the most part. for the ladies and girls out there that haven't had any exposure, this book is a goldmine. a nice, healthy alternative to the "PMS rock" of Jewel, Alanis Morrisette etc. hopefully it's inspired a few girls out there to pick up an instrument for those of us that are already familiar with punk, post-punk, new wave, no wave, riot grrrl, etc. or just feminism in general this is a handy review. probably won't learn anything new, but Raha's writing flows smoothly enough, and is fun for the most part. for the ladies and girls out there that haven't had any exposure, this book is a goldmine. a nice, healthy alternative to the "PMS rock" of Jewel, Alanis Morrisette etc. hopefully it's inspired a few girls out there to pick up an instrument and play it loud and fast.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ocean

    i was initially really excited about this book because it features a bunch of my all-time favorite artists/bands (patti smith, team dresch, etc.) i was hoping it would be like a feminist/queer version of "please kill me," but instead it was kind of like an overview. i learned little factoids here and there, but i really wish it had gone further. i want more!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Absolutely worthwhile and engaging reportage on the neglected work of women in rock. The introductions to each section are good and set the scene well but the individual chapters on each band are a little lacking - most feel too short to properly tell the stories. Fewer bands and more details might have improved it but who to cut?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    have it, have read bits of it, but need to just plow through to get a real sense of it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elise

    Smart writing and a great book for people looking for a general overview of the female punk scene. Plus, my friend wrote it, so read it!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah

    I'm using bits and pieces of this for my dissertation. I found it interesting and informative, but felt "Pretty in Punk" was much better for overall info.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    good overview of some amazing women in rock. doesn't go too deep, but still something any riot grrrl should have on their shelves.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    so many books, so little time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Allison Thurman

    8/26/2010 - Loaned to D.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    Bitchin'. TOTALLY bitchin'.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    I pretty much only wanted this for the Bratmobile chapter, but it was nice to learn about all of the other bands mentioned. Well, except Patti Smith. Lo siento.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Informative romp thru punk's leading lady's influence on music history.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zoë

    The book that taught me I could be punk, too. Forever has a place in my heart.

  29. 4 out of 5

    rutebega

    Little depth but lots of breadth -- quick looks at female punk and indie-rock artists you should know.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Birdie

    Smart writing and a great book for people looking for a general overview of the female punk scene. Plus, my friend wrote it, so read it!

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