Virginia Astley is a UK singer/songwriter whose achievements have perhaps been overshadowed by more ambitious and commercial artists. Possessing a unique soprano style of singing, Virginia's delicate vocals fit in seamlessly with her piano and flute driven melodies.
Coming from a musical background (her father was Edwin Astley - responsible for 60's TV themes such as Dangerman and The Saint), Virginia took up piano at 7 and flute at 14. After leaving school, she took a degree course in music at City University before moving on to the Guildhall School Of Music.
After a brief foray into the world of contemporary pop as keyboardist with Victims Of Pleasure, Virginia wrote, arranged and performed songs with Skids frontman Richard Jobson. This collaboration resulted in the album The Ballad Of Etiquette and the collaborative work continued when Jobson moved to Belgian label Les Disques Du Crépuscule. Virginia contributed her services for the Crépuscule compilation The Fruit Of The Original Sin, but her most notable contribution was as part of The Dream Makers (in collaboration with filmmaker Jean Paul Goude) for a cover version of La Chanson d'Helene (Helen's Song) an early example of Virginia's distinctive vocal style.
Virginia went on to play piano on brother-in-law Pete Townshend's album All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes. It was during this early 80's period that Virginia started to give serious consideration to releasing her own material. Despite early ideas by both Crépuscule and their UK wing Operation Twilight, nothing came of these plans. At one point, Virginia had even discussed ideas with John Foxx with a view to recruiting him as a possible producer.
In 1981 Virginia signed to the small UK label Why-Fi and immediately recorded a series of songs, including We Will Meet Them Again and Sanctus. The sessions also featured brother Jon Astley on guitar and production, Jo Wells (Kissing The Pink) on sax and old university friend Nicky Holland on backing vocals.
During this period, Virginia received an offer from another Why-Fi artist - Troy Tate - for a high profile support slot with The Teardrop Explodes. Troy had been developing his own solo career at the time, but had been drafted in to the Teardrops during one of their many line-up changes.
Initially sceptical, Virginia overcame her doubts about performing live and set about recruiting a band. This wasn't a difficult task as she brought in Nicky Holland and another university friend - Kate St John. Becoming The Ravishing Beauties, the trio joined the Teardrops in Liverpool during the Winter of 1981 for a series of dates at a small Liverpool club and remained with them for their UK tour in the early part of 1982.
Why-Fi capitalised on the situation by releasing two 10" EP's: Troy Tate's Lifeline and Virginia's A Bao A Qu. Virginias' debut release featured the songs she'd recorded the previous year - the same songs that were being performed during The Ravishing Beauties set.
Following the end of the Teardrop Explodes tour, The Ravishing Beauties continued performing live on their own. But internal problems manifested themselves and the band split in the summer of 1982. Nicky Holland worked alongside Fun Boy Three and also Tears For Fears before launching a solo career during the 1990's. Kate St John went on to become part of The Dream Academy before she too decided on a solo career.
The same year, a chance meeting at Crépuscule with singer/songwriter Anna Domino led to Virginia playing piano, and also co-writing some songs. The results of these sessions would later surface on Anna Domino's 1984 mini LP East And West.
In 1983, Why-Fi released Virginia's follow-up to the A Bao A Qu EP with the catchy pop of Love's A Lonely Place To Be. This single thrust Virginia into the very centre of the musical limelight, but cracks started to appear in her relationship with Why-Fi. Unhappy with the level of support the label was giving h