C88 – This is another Cherry Red celebration of the Eighties Indie scene, documenting a golden era when tuneful guitar-based bands made records on shoestring budgets, often issued on small labels with hand-made artwork, with little hope of mainstream exposure.

Disc 1 is devoted to artists who haven’t previously graced this series, who – for the most part – first made an impact in 1988. The Stone Roses, Pale Saints and The Mock Turtles would all enjoy mainstream success. Others like The Pooh Sticks, The Man From Delmonte, Bridewell Taxis were cult indie favourites.

Sarah Records – which came to epitomise a certain type of Indie Pop – are represented by The Orchids, Another Sunny Day, The Sea Urchins and The Poppyheads (whose ‘Cremation Town’ debuts on CD here). Other key indie labels also figure, such as Creation (Apple Boutique, Pacific, The House Of Love, Emily), 53rd & 3rd (The Groovy Little Numbers, The Vaselines) and The Subway Organization (The Clouds, Rodney Allen, The Flatmates, Bubblegum Splash, etc.).

Disc 2 revisits many of the bands who appeared on C87 with later singles or B-sides, such as the likes of Bob, Cud, The Darling Buds, Kitchens Of Distinction, The Shamen, The Heart Throbs, The Bachelor Pad and other staples of the late 80s Indie scene.

New names to the series who appear on C88 include Choo Choo Train, Moss Poles, The Snapdragons, The Wilderness Children, Fat Tulips, Annie & The Aeroplanes, Thrilled Skinny, Murrumbidgee Whalers and many others. Numerous tracks have never been on CD before.

The deluxe clamshell package includes a weighty booklet full of illustrations, with an 9,000 word sleeve-note and band-by-band biographies by C86 co-compiler Neil Taylor.

my thoughts:

Cherry Red have produced their usual first-rate CD box, they are the Premier re-issue label around. There is no denying this. Everything is beautifully created, from the CD sleeve artwork, the booklet which is laden with facts and information and of course their meticulous eye for detail for the scene they’re covering here.

Back in 1988 I was aware of most of the bands highlighted inside the C88 box but at the time I just wasn’t interested in contemporary groups and scenes, unless they were a garage band.

I spent my dole money on ’60s records, Pebbles and Bam Caruso compilations, The Byrds, Love and The Doors in particular. Around this time I was also involved (in a small way) with the underground UK garage punk scene, creating graphics and posters for my mates group The Mourning After.

There was an alternative universe in 1988. A World-Wide spawn of long-haired freaks in Beatle boots were writing their fanzines and distributing demo-tapes. Some records were released by combos like The Thanes, The Off-Hooks, The Stomachmouths, The Stepford Husbands, The Cynics . . . The Fuzztones were still going.

Disc One and Disc Two have their moments and there are some great little numbers among the bits and bobs floating around in the toilet. I’ve listed the stand-out records below, but take your own pick.

I was mostly bored by everything on Disc Three, Cherry Red (as with C87) left most of the drab and dreary records for the final C88 blast. Most of the bands appeared to be desperately wanting to sound like early Orange Juice with their spiky guitars and jagged rhythms.

Sadly, most of the numbers went up blind alleys and were for the most part melody free and tuneless. Also the drum production on most of the tracks was evil and too modern & gated. Not my bag at all.

The Fizzbombs “Surfaround” is a fierce burst of energy though and I want to investigate them for sure!

Most of the numbers I’m attracted to on this C88 release are by those bands who played fast, loud, crude and occasionally inept. Any record with a synthetic and gated drum-sound should be thrown in the bin and burned.

Colin Mason

Stand-out records were:

  • The Pooh Sticks – “On Tape”
  • The Charlottes – “Are You Happy Now?”
  • The Driscolls – “Julie Christie”
  • Thrilled Skinny – “So Happy To Be Alive”
  • Apple Boutique – “The Ballad Of Jet Harris”
  • The Sea Urchins – “Please Rain Fall”
  • The Darling Buds – “Shame On You”
  • The Bachelor Pad – “Do It For Fun”
  • Murrumbidgee Whalers – “Giving Way To Trains”
  • The Flatmates – “Heaven Knows”
  • The Wilderness Children – “Mrs Susan Spence”
  • The Nivens – “Yesterday”
  • Bubblegum Splash – “The 18:10 To Yeovil Junction”
  • Inspiral Carpets – “Theme From Cow”
  • The Fizzbombs – “Surfaround”
  • Holydaymakers – “Cincinnati”

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