The tear of a rape in “The Boiler”

Toni Tye. 1980
  • “The Boiler”
  • Single 7″
  • The Bodysnatchers/ Rhoda Dakar/ The Special A.K.A
  • Ska
  • Released 1982
  • England
  • 2 Tones Records

After listening to various tracks and albums written and performed by women, the single “TheBoiler” represents the toughest, most visceral and realistic creation I have ever heard. The theme relates a normal day of any girl (with low self-esteem) who meets a boy, this invites him to everything they consume and thinks that this entitles him to sleep with her.

Rhoda Dakar was the leader of the rocksteady band The Bodysnatchers, accidental collaborator of The Specials and one of the ones in charge of the band that emerged from their separation: Specials AKA, to continue the musical legacy of the English band after their latest hit “Ghost Town” . Taking the rape of a friend as a reference, she wrote a heartbreaking song, ahead of its time and which reached number thirty-five on the British charts.

Rhoda Dakar sing The Bodysnatchers cover page

Tired of listening to few banal texts about sexual assaults from the macho perspective of the time, Rhoda presented the piece to keyboardist and producer of Specials Jerry Dammers, he realized the potential and proposed to Dakar to produce and publish it. The task dragged couse Jerry became interested in other side projects and “The Boiler” wasn’t released until a year after the entire production process began.

When “The Boiler” was first broadcast on British radio, the country’s top broadcasters banned its broadcast for using “inappropriate content,” removed the single from record stores, and accused the artist of being an opportunist for the coincidence of the publication date with a court ruling absolving a magistrate of committing a violation by the English High Court. Dakar created the theme a year earlier.

“The boiler” was the first song by The Bodysnatchers discarded by the label 2 Tones Records and a bridge piece that the artist used together with The Specials on her last American tour and that served as the first single for the Special A.K.A.

Rhoda’s interpretation is sublime. What begins as a happy and carefree story ends up being an authentic tear of pain, suspense and helplessness that the artist handles perfectly thanks to her improvisation tables. The good vibes normally provided by ska rhythms make the piece unusual and difficult to digest.

The video clip was shot by art student Lizzie Soden and Steve Binnion from Coventry University on 16mm film. In the edition they placed frames extracted from the TV with scenes of passive women and robust men when the interpreter finishes the act. This edition recreated a common reality for women that encompasses a much broader social spectrum than rape itself and also caused them intellectual property problems.

Videoclip

The theme was only performed on TV once with palyback at The Oxford Roadshow and Rhoda solo. After reaching the climax of pain and anguish of the piece, the station emits festive images where “Enjoy yourself” is heard, completely canceling out the drama of the moment.

Rhoda & The Special AKA The Boiler Oxford Road Show

In Spain, it was Chrysalis, the subsidiary of 2 Tones Records, who released the single in 1982, including a banner on the cover indicating that it is the “story of a rape” and the lyrics in Spanish on the back cover. These copies also included a press release.

Chrysalis Single Cover
Back cover – Spanish lyrics
Spanish press release

Jerry Dammers said that this piece was only from one listening but the beauty of the Dakar spokenword catches the listener in a circular listening. It seems that radios and televisions took this “one listening” to the letter. After issuing it, they canceled it from any medium since the interpretation openly reflects the pain and anger of the young woman towards her aggressor and recreates the act of rape itself. Something inconceivable in a time when the world was thought that all women wanted to be raped.

Rhoda Dakar was the first woman in underground culture to speak of rape from a woman’s perspective causing shock in the audience. The story itself tells the significance of dealing with these issues to advance the feminist struggle and for the advancement of humanity.

Side A and Side B of the single with The Special AKA

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