In my mid teens I was quick off the blocks to get into the early indie guitar bands, mostly because almost everything else didn’t thrill me and this was before I’d discovered 60s garage.
Anyway, Hurrah! came from my local City of Newcastle so I was clearly interested especially after reading a review of the record in one of the music weeklies (could have been either Sounds, NME or Melody Maker).
Even after all of these years ‘The Sun Shines Here’ still has a certain charm with it’s edgy jangling guitar and sparse production. Clearly influenced by Postcard Record label groups, especially Orange Juice, this of course became the template for most of the English indie guitar bands that followed. This record was released in April 1982 so it’s one of the first of the genre.
I remember seeing them perform live at a local Night Club in Sunderland (probably 1983) and talked to singer/guitarist David Hughes about 60s stuff. At that time he sported a mental haircut with a fringe some two inches away from his eyebrows. It was one of those psychiatric hospital inmate cuts.
“Woke up to the smell of fresh cut grass,
The jangling guitars in my ears”….
Next up is the Revolving Paint Dream. I can still remember buying this record from a shop in Sunderland. I probably bought it during the week it was released, which according to information from an online source was 25th February 1984.
Only 1000 were produced and is rare and sought after. It featured Andrew Innes who went onto Primal Scream, Christine Wanless and the Jasmine Minks’ Dave Musker on keyboards. The wraparound picture sleeve was printed by Bobby Gillespie also later to be in Primal Scream and the sleeves were folded by Alan McGhee himself as was typical of all the first twenty ‘Creation’ 7″ releases.
‘Flowers In The Sky’ is a frenzy of guitar feedback and distortion. It’s certainly psychedelic and this sound was ahead of it’s time especially in England. The Rain Parade and The Dream Syndicate were experimenting with this kind of psych in USA around about the same time I suppose but I’d heard nothing like it in my country.
“The grass is green in the fields for you
The grass is green in the fields
Its red and green, its orange and blue
The grasses are there for you (cause I love you)”
The flip ‘In The Afternoon’ is more of the same trippy psychedelia. It could almost be an extension of the top side but this time the vocals are female. One for the shoegazers.
Next up, Altered Images with their “Dead Pop Stars” single from the start of 1981. They’re also another group from Scotland, my ‘Transmissions’ are becoming powerful examples of just how much talent and variety of sounds coming out of Glasgow and Edinburgh especially.
Glasgow group Altered Images had some success in Britain during the early 80s with their quirky pop singles. Their debut disc is a worthy effort of post punk indie darkness. “Dead Pop Stars” has great appeal although didn’t sell, probably way too un-commercial for the Charts to start with. Factor into this mix the horrific murder of Beatle, John Lennon two months before the record was released and you’ve got something which is a little bit too much for the open mourning wounds and masses to deal with.
There’s a definite Siouxsie & the Banshees feel to this number, mostly in the rhythms of the drum patterns. Closer inspection of the label reveals that Siouxsie guitarist Steve Severin was the producer. After this record the group chose much more commercial material and with radio friendly appeal the mainstream beckoned.
Next up is an excellent double ‘A’ side from Southern Death Cult. “Fatman” starts like the Shadows on overdrive, gains pace into a helter skelter of lead guitar and bass, before cannon fire drumming leads into the verse. Superbly sung and played, and powerful enough to wake the dead. “Moya” is equally excellent, too. Full credit to the dense production, courtesy of Mick Glossop. An auspicious vinyl debut and a shame that this was their one and only offering.
I would never have imagined I’d ever feel compelled to buy a Simple Minds record. Back in the early eighties when they had that huge hit “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” this group were the epitome of everything I disliked about trendy groups. Stupid haircuts, neat and impossibly over-sized square clothes, gated drums, commercial appeal to the masses. No way man, not my bag at all in ’85.
This month I read a book called “Simply Thrilled”, an account of the legendary Scottish independent record label ‘Postcard Records’. Simple Minds were mentioned a couple of times and it stirred my interest. I then saw the picture cover of their 1979 no hit wonder “Chelsea Girl” and decided to invest.
The cover is a painting of ’60s model Jean Shrimpton, and according to an online source, Jim Kerr saw the picture hanging on the wall in the Office of Arista lawyer, Robert White. He insisted that the picture should be used for the cover of “Chelsea Girl.”
I actually like both sides of this single. “Chelsea Girl” is clever and arty and sounds like a new wave Roxy Music meets Magazine. They had high hopes of a chart hit but nothing happened. Nice organ touches and guitar solo.
The B-side “Garden Of Hate” is much more interesting, adventurous, dark and moody. Based on these two songs I’ve decided that Simple Minds are worthy of my continued interest.
Adam & the Ants, you may ask? This single was a recent freebie within an order of other records. I’ve never bought an Ants disc, they were never my scene back in the early eighties. I was always put off by their lousy image, especially Adam’s.
Coming on strong wearing Johnny Kidd’s old pirate gear, big boots, painted side-burns and a Red Indian battle stripe across his face, Adam was a flamboyant poser. I could never take him seriously, then Adam & the Ants hit the big time with singles after this one from early 1980.
“Dog Eat Dog” is better than I ever imagined, the group build up a heavy beat with those warrior battle drums. These are drums played by human hands, there is no funny business going on in the studio adding that awful gated effect. So, already, the music is catching my ear.
Controlled ‘spaghetti western’ guitar frenzy and bass rumble adding to the powerful beat. I can’t help but think of those early Hoodoo Gurus numbers from “Stoneage Romeos” . . . . . a remarkable similarity. Good vocals from the soon to be pop icon (at least for a few years).
The B-side is another powerful number, heavy metal beat, loud and dangerous. Adam singing like Iggy Pop. Impressive double sider.