Tuesday, July 28, 2009


This is another bellwether 45 in my teenage musical education, and for a long time I felt like it was a record that only I knew about. While THE MO-DETTES’ 1980 “White Mice” single is fairly well-known now, I’d never met anyone in the 80s who’d heard it besides me and others who heard it played to death on KFJC in the early 1980s. It reached some ears when it came out on one of those Bomp Power Pop compilation CDs about 15 years ago; and when I saw the LONG BLONDES play live a few years ago I was floored when the between-band DJ played the song and people got up to dance to it en masse, like it was one of their well-known favorites. Who knows, in the UK this may have been a touchstone 45 for thousands of quote-unquote post-punk lovers, as it was for me.

“White Mice” arrives at the perfect intersection of rough English D.I.Y. and pure golden girl pop, and has one of the most lilting harmonies you’ll ever hear. Among the more charming aspects of the band were the garbled vocals of Ramona Carlier, she being of Swiss descent and a then-recent UK immigrant (which helps explains it). It’s hard to put a bead on exactly what she’s saying beyond the song’s chorus, which starts with the first-rate couplet, “Don’t be stupid, don’t be limp / No girl likes to love a wimp”, and contains a throbbing bassline that leads, rather than follows, everything else in the song. The guitarist is practically invisible throughout – her ineptitude in moving from chord to chord is part of what’s so special about “White Mice” and indeed, the small handful of other good tracks this band produced in their short life (like the B-side, “Masochistic Opposite”).

I also love the sleeve for this single, which is so awful I could have doodled it during a particularly boring Powerpoint presentation. Glad the single has reached so many ears the past couple of decades – I’d like to bring it to another 200 or so ears if I may.

Play The Mo-Dettes, “White Mice”

Download THE MO-DETTES – “White Mice” (A-side)
Download THE MO-DETTES – “Masochistic Opposite” (B-side)


James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

Jay -

"White Mice" was also included on one of Rhino's D.I.Y. collections (power pop vol. 2, I think) from 1993, which is where I first heard it. The sound quality on the Rhino disc is not very good, though (for this recording, I mean, not the entire CD).

It was also included on a post-punk collection, titled "Totally Wired" that Razor and Tie released a couple of years later, under the alternate title "White Mouse Disco" for some reason, and it sounds much better there. (It might even be a remix of some kind, given the title change, but I'm not sure).

Jay H. said...

Hey James - thanks, you're absolutely right. It was the RHINO DIY comps that had "White Mice", not the Bomp stuff. It's "what I meant" - my memory just failed me.

"White Mouse Disco" is actually a track from their LP. It's a sped-up, kind of silly version of "White Mice". Not sure why they'd include that instead of the original, but there it is.

Niels said...

Brilliant! Both tracks on this single are far better than their reworkings on the "Story So Far" LP, and BTW, they even made a video for White Mice which you can see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0JCoMYpiA0
The Mo-dettes did some touring with the (pre-hit) Go-Gos, apparently acting really bitchy towards them!

Oni said...


Anonymous said...

no there were no tours with both modes and gogos...both however did support madness at various times. maybe that is where the confusion comes in. the bitchiness? maybe something to do with female rivalries for the affections of some of the lads involved? or sour grapes by one or other of the band because of record co pressures to be more like each other?

Anonymous said...

Saw them on a kids show called Mersey Pirate in 1980 singing Paint it Black. Cos of this i went to see them live at the General Wolfe in Coventry in the same week. Got talking to them and they all called the host of the kids show a creep as i recall. Two days later they played in Wolverhampton and got me in for free..signed posters and everything. Fell in love with Ramona. Grat gig and great memories.

Anonymous said...

The host was my old biology teacher-Fred Talbot. He went onto to be the weather guy for ITV Good Morning

ROOKSBY said...

The same Fred Talbot who was imprisoned for child sex offences a couple of years ago - so they were right about him being a creep then!