the press say ...
"Skin Games celebrate a state of elation, the majestic spirals of melodies
veering from the delicate to the defiant." - Melody Maker
"Cradled in the hammock of blue flame guitars, Wendy's voice is an
essential and unpretentious instrument." - NME
"Wendy Pygott's voice has a tremendous range sometimes sugar-coated mouse, yummy sweet, sometimes equally deliciously wanton, sometimes low and plaintive, sometimes high in hosannas. With the superb "No Criminal Mind", "Blanche" and "Skin Games" she sends warm shivers up and down the back, poking at the tear ducts, convincing that a comparison to Kate Bush isn't as ridiculous as it seems on paper." - Melody Maker
The archetypal '80s British pop-rock guitar sound coalesced about half a decade
ago, formed from the shimmer and splash techniques of the Edges, Johnny Marrs,
Will Sergeants and Charlie Burchills. Ever since then there's been an awful lot of
middling bands, squatting unenterprisingly on the formula.
On their debut album, Coventry-formed Skin Games are very much in that area,
but save themselves from faceless mediocrity by dint of their relentlessly sunny disposition - a touch of the Cocteau's loop-the-loopiness and vocalist Wendy Page, who appears to be about 33 women in one. Wendy, it has to be said, looks like a model, yet she only features on the sleeve as a psychedelic blur, which has to count in the band's favour. Cradled in the hammock of blue flame guitars, her voice is a sensual and unpretentious instrument; it breaks in awkward places, topples off the high notes and leaps clean out of the song for no good reason whatsoever.
On the tumbling 'Big Me', she is a baby Bjork in free fall, on 'Your Luck's Changed'
she is a dreamy Chrissie Hynde, on 'Heaven Blessed' she's Siouxsie after the exorcism, and on "Where The Wild Things Are" she's Elizabeth Cocteau having
made the mistake of writing her words down.
Because too many songs meander aimlessly and because the band too easily settle
for just framing Wendy's words with a swirl of guitars, Miss Page has to be the
centre of attention. She can be so toe polite, as on the pro-feminist 'Tirade'
("I never dreamed in all my sheltered years that I would meet such a rigid,
frigid mind" needs to be screamed, not stated), and sometimes her dizzy poetic
is a little too awkward.
But there are pristine pop moments to be had here, particularly in the lost single
'Brilliant' and the star-kissing 'Big Me' - and it's all a lot sexier than T'Pau.
Pretty much a bewitching transcendence of the formulation then, guv.
Front covers, ahoy.
Wendy Page of Skin Games: pristine
(8/10) Roger Morton - NME - 15th July, 1989
The Marquee, London
A few weeks ago a demo by Skin Games was pressed into my hand, a cassette which
featured 'Whipping Boy', a track which cut me to the bone. Days later the tape was
worn thin, played to a state of uselessness. An opportunity to acquaint myself with
this particular song again was most welcome.
Skin Games are yet another band attempting to engineer a sophistication of rock music. Like those who've gone before and those will undoubtedly follow, they
combine accessible, commercial rhythms with a raunchy guitar and a degree of
Almost every song is an effective slash, but tonight their set did not include the
blood-letting 'Whipping Boy'. For that, I must confess to a twinge of disappointment,
even if the dozen or so minor lacerations added up to an exquisite stinging lesson.
Diving into dreams and clawing at the cold comfort. Painting skies and creeping
through flesh with gentle fingers. Shivering the timbers. Mystical and magical,
more than ever, Skin Games are a Lewis Carroll of a pop group. And Wendy Page,
one bangled wrist banging against the other, eyes fixed in a swimming stare,
threatening to leave you behind this time, in an intriguingly eerie adult Alice.
Skin Games celebrate a state of elation, the majestical spirals of melodies veering
from the delicate to the defiant. Each climb is potentially dangerous but charmingly
inviting. The haunting, harrowing sway of "Where The Wild Things Are" is the
most disconcerting, the most challenging. "Your Luck's Changed", their new single,
has a more obvious pop notion, a shove to the top, and "Brilliant Shining" lasts
for an eternity, Jonny Willett's guitar playing brash and bold, sharp notes flying
off at tangents to linger lost and lonely.
A push, a tingling blush, an avoidable blood rush, Skin Games have taken up a
position of considerable strength.
PUSH - Melody Maker - 27th May, 1989
Wendy Page is not only stunning, vivacious, amiable, intelligent and a tremendously
powerful singer - she and her band Skin Games have just made of the records of
the year! 'Your Luck's Changed' captures all the shimmering grandeur of Wendy's voice and the chiming resonance of Jonny Willett's guitar. Dizzingly splendid it is.
You won't believe your ears!
Skin Games are steeped in poetic glory, much of it deriving from Wendy's literary
background; it was while she was studying for her degree at Warwick University
that she met bassist Jim Marr, a fellow student.
"He put a notice up in the Union bar asking for a singer. It was the end of term
and I was really pissed, so I scribbled my room number on it in lipstick.
The next day Jim phoned up, offered me an audition and that was it."
Her voice has distinct Siouxsie overtones, although Wendy's initial inspiration
came from male singers - Ian Curtis, Jim Kerr, Ian McCulloch.
"I always tried to get my voice to go deeper than it would naturally…"
She's a dreamer too. The forthcoming debut LP (they finally settled on the
title 'Blood Rush' from a shortlist of only 210 possibles) is divided equally
between songs based on relationships and songs based on dreams.
'Heaven Blessed' - hopefully the next single - is based on a dream where
I was down a wishing well with somebody; no-one in particular…my dreams
don't seem to be specifically erotic, if you know what I mean!"
Their finest moment is the feminist anthem 'Tirade', where the 'get-yer-tits-out'
element in the audience is rightly and roundly harangued. It's absolutely magnifique.
Welcome to the many wonders of Wendy. These games have only just begun…
DG - Record Mirror - 27th May, 1989
But it's much easier to slag than to praise - except, perhaps, when the objects
of one's intended compliments are of the calibre of Skin Games.
Finally getting some exposure after a year of obscurity with Epic Records,
they show themselves well capable of occupying an interesting and, I'd venture
to say, profitable slot somewhere between the Cocteaus, The Pretenders and U2.
For a three-piece without keyboards on stage or tape, they create a remarkably
intense impression of instrumentation, providing a lush backdrop to Wendy
Pigott's sweet, soaring vocals. Modest and quiet off-stage, Wendy transforms
into a performer of quite frightening ferocity.
But it's a beautiful ferocity, emphasised by a mane of unruly blonde hair and
by heavily lidded eyes which occasionally roll heavenwards in some kind of
ecstatic release. Shiver me timbers, the woman's got a whole zoo's worth
of animal magnetism.
The songs vary from the gentleness of 'Blanche' through the forceful emotion
of 'Fiction' to the beaty jog of 'Cowboy Joe' and the new single 'No Criminal Mind'.
The mood ducks and soars but behind it always is a sense of meaning and
purpose which few rock bands other than U2 either aspire to or achieve.
Admittedly, both meaning and purpose could have been even clearer if the set
hadn't been played at Wembley Arena volume - a voice like Wendy's does
not benefit from high-frequency distortion and break-up. But that was perhaps
the only factor beyond Skin Games' control.
In every other respect, they seem to be very much in control, and one senses
that this will be of great value when, in a couple of years, they're playing
stadiums instead of small London clubs.
Tony Mitchell - Sounds - 5th December, 1987
"This impressive debut album is a heady concoction of shimmering guitar work,
Wendy Page's soaring vocals and some passionate song writing."
"The debut album confirms all that early promise. A few of the rougher edges have
been sanded down, and the guitars have taken on a Simple Minds feel."
Yorkshire Bank Magazine(?)
The Blood Rush
Wendy - "Still feels too tender to listen to it sometimes."
Jim - "An old friend"
Jonny - "Brilliant"
The New Album … ?
Jim - "A new friend"
"The Blood Rush", an enticingly entitled debut LP, is the strongest proof yet that
SKIN GAMES should not be considered as a disposable pop group. Both musically
and lyrically, the album is a tangle of intentions and emotions, one often undermining
the next. Pop music is, of course, not supposed to be so complicated.
"Pop is often a simple idea bashed out in three minutes, an attempt to hit a single
emotion as hard as possible and leave people gasping," says guitarist Jonny Willett.
"That's all very well, but we want to try and do other things. I don't think that we're
capable of being more direct. I find it difficult to say that I'm happy or I'm sad at
any given time. There's always some other feeling which cannot be ignored."
"The LP is bursting with paradoxes," agrees vocalist Wendy Page, "For example,
'Where The Wild Things Are' has a swirly, dreamy, magical quality but the lyrics
are about avoiding something potentially destructive. Similarly, although the music
of 'Cowboy Joe' is quite jolly and lightweight, the song is actually a rejection of
tinsel kingdoms and materialism. More than any other track, with 'Dancing On'
we've left ourselves open to being struck down. The chorus - 'Is this my sin?'
over and over again - begs an answer which is never received and this will
undoubtedly invite extreme reactions. But that's good: we've nothing to hide
and plenty to show."
"Tirade", Skin Games' new single, is perhaps the most commercially viable pop
song on the album, but even here there is a degree of subtle subversion at work.
Moreover, the message is extremely positive.
"It's a steely, angry and very strong feminist song but it has already been
completely misunderstood by some critics," says Wendy. "One reviewer said
that the lines, 'I never dreamed in all my sheltered years, that I would need
such a rigid frigid mind' should be screamed rather than simply stated, but
the whole point of the song is that I have no intention of sinking to that level
which the archetypal male would expect me to. I'm not going to scream and
shout and stamp my feet. I'm cold, I'm thorough and, above all, I'm equal."
knew her songs, but we had never guessed that she could sing as well.
(Lindsay - Tin Tin Out)
only social life you had was singing ...