“Blue Boy” was the second Orange Juice single and for my money the best song they ever recorded. It’s an amphetamine rush of jangling guitar, clattering drum action, punk energy and laden with the fresh sound of young Scotland.
Clearly demonstrating their love of the Velvet Underground and still harbouring a desire to play fast paced punk, “Blue Boy” is pure sonic honey and makes me simply thrilled. It’s no surprise that this number dates back to 1977 when they were going under the name of the Nu-Sonics. It was written by Edwyn Collins after he met Pete Shelley backstage after a Buzzcocks gig.
At the time, Felt were very mysterious. I don’t recall reading anything about them in the music press and the early singles I collected used shadowy pictures of the group.
“Something Sends Me To Sleep” / “Red Indians” was technically Felt’s second single but it was the first with supreme guitarist Maurice Deebank. Classically trained, he was responsible for creating those sublime atmospheric textures of jangle. I still need to find a copy of his solo album from 1984 called “Inner Thought Zone”. The title is magnificent and I’m sure the music will be too.
Spoken words / vocals from Lawrence in his rather indolent way. The sound was about to catch on with the more commercial and socially outgoing indie front men and women. Felt were forever to remain as outsiders looking in, lone-wolves circling the scene that left them behind.
There’s a video online of the Bluebells performing “Sugar Bridge” from a TV Show back in 1983. Sadly, for me, they’re a group best heard but not seen. Coming on strong like an updated Bay City Rollers, awful baggy white 80s T-shirts with one of those horrendous over-sized print designs emblazoned on the front. Can’t make out what it is! The T-shirts are also tucked into ‘half-mast’ jeans. This style was probably to show off their trendy white socks and shoes to better effect. Mullet style barnets too. Boys, you look like square Bank Clerks, next stop the neighbourhood wine bar.
Thankfully the song isn’t too bad, typical youth guitar pop music aimed at the charts. The Bluebells never made it with this one though.
I’ve got a soft spot for Lloyd Cole & the Commotions but for reasons unknown, probably lack of money, I never got around to buying any of their records at the time.
I recently bought “Rattlesnakes” for a couple of quid and was pleased I did so. This is beautifully played pop, production is probably too excessive with the strings and things powering the song along. I feel that the number didn’t really need any of this though, it stands the test of time as a very strong composition, certainly chart worthy and radio friendly. One look at it’s chart history reveals a disappointing #65 placing during November 1984.
“The idea for the song Rattlesnakes came from a line in Joan Didion’s book, Play It As It Lays: “Life is a crap game, and there are rattlesnakes under every rock.” I sing that someone “looks like Eve Marie Saint” because she looked how I thought these characters in my songs should look: beautiful fragility.” (Lloyd Cole)
There were a lot of young lads dressing like Theatre Of Hate when I was a teenager hangin’ out in the indie / punk pubs in Sunderland. You know, flat-top hair style, short at the sides and back, short-sleeved checked or white shirts, jeans and beetle crushers.
“Do You Believe In The Westworld” was also a regular play by the DJ’s in the clubs and the punks were forever dropping their shiny ten pence pieces into the jukebox for a rave-up while playing pool. Singer Kirk Brandon had his own distinct style of presentation and vocals, can’t think of many who sounded like him. Check out his Red Indian inspired wailing. An atmospheric number that just failed to hit really big in Britain although the band did make an appearance on Top Of The Pops. Produced by Clash man Mick Jones, released December 1981.
“The Missionary”, from 1982 was the last single by Josef K, even billed as the ‘farewell single’ on the light green sleeve. Incidentally there is a light blue variant with the same image of a young girl.
It was released on the Belgium label Les Disques du Crepuscule so it’s very unlikely that many copies got shipped over and sold in Britain. As far as I know John Peel was a champion of the band until their demise.
The song is very similar to the Josef K sound evident on previous releases, all very downbeat vocally but with a fast pace of post punk guitar noise with funky bass lines. All very confusing and perhaps the reason why they never really rose above cult group status.