The post-punk feminists of Delta 5 were part of the same Leeds music scene as Gang Of Four and Mekons, and they made some significant inroads at home and abroad before a stiff debut and internal dissension strangled the baby in the cradle. Delta 5's one album is out of print, but Kill Rock Stars has rescued the band's three singles and some scattered BBC radio sessions for Singles & Sessions. To get a quick sense of Delta 5 and its scene, spin the compilation's first song, "Mind Your Own Business," with its watery bass, death-disco beats, and slashing guitars, backing a monotone chant about self-determination. Delta 5's core musical elements sound like a lot of what was in the air at the turn of the decade, both in the UK with Public Image Ltd. and Gang Of Four, and in the U.S. with Pylon and the Minutemen. But Delta 5's lyrical personality doesn't have any immediate comparison, except maybe for The Waitresses. Delta 5's lead singer Julz Sale and The Waitresses' Patty Donahue share a taunting, defiant tone, deployed to tell off thoughtless lovers.
That tone serves Sale and company equally well on the morose, anxious "Now That You've Gone" and the joyously bratty "You" (featuring the line "Who likes sex only on Sundays? / You, you, you"). By the end of Delta 5's run of singles, which culminates in the intricate, horn-aided "Colour," the band was clearly on the verge of developing its dual-bass art-funk into something more distinctive. But Sale was a fully-formed wit right from the start, as evinced by the 1980 Peel Sessions track "Make Up," where she sings about how cosmetics "make your face feel important" before cautioning, "Do you wear it? / Does it wear you?" Too bad she never got the chance to complete her thought.