Turntable Revolution



Trash In The Attic

Want to mourn the modern world? Try the Isle of Wight, that undisturbed splodge beneath the knee of England, where a thick patina of the past prevents the present from imposing its empty gloss upon it. Home also to the Pumphouse Gang and Trixie's Big Red Motorbike, artistes that may as well have been based on the Falklands for all their influence on the mainland. Equally ignored, despite a convivial letter addressed to Go! Discs tucked inside the sleeve of my copy of their single, was The Attic, hopefully not named after the Adrian Gurvitz non-classic Classic. Little information is given on the sleeve. All three songs, The Final Thrill, Excuse To The World and The Cradle, appear to be originals written by the mysterious triumvirate of Arnell, Adams and Beasley.

The single was recorded in the summer of 1987 and came out on Picnic records.

INDIETRACKS---I want to live in an Indietracks world

The Indietracks weekend started for us on Thursday. We surged past Nottingham, briefly stopping at a few charity shops on Mansfield Road as a filip for our dismay at Anarchy Records being closed, before chugging on to Sheffield. There we partook of refreshment at our friend Jeanette's house. She has just completed a book on acid/psych folk and looked rather exhausted. Itching to finger dusty old records I excused myself and rushed off to Record Collector before it shut. Friday saw us depart Sheffield, a few records heavier as Jeanette had kindly given me some of her unwanted singles, Bunnygrunt, Rondelles, Comet Gain etc. We turned up at the Premier Inn to be terrorized by a giant cutout of Lenny Henry and an armada of Spanish indiepop types.

We arrived on site as the sun kindly threw a few chipped rays of light over the festival. Veronica Falls kicked off the weekend quite quietly due to a few sound problems but soon delivered several punchy tunes. Allo Darlin' bestrode the stage like a gentle behometh, Silver Dollars sounding like the song of the festival already. Headliners Everybody Was In The French Resistance....Now had front man Eddie Argos laughing at his own wonderfulness but had me wondering why he wasn't propping up the bill. Funny men in pop are as rare as coppers with a sense of humour, that lot from the Wirral can do it and so can M J Hibbet, Mr.Argos has as heavy a touch as one of his catalogues.

Post bands we hauled our weary bodies to Offbeat in the shed. Scuppered by poor sound we still shuffled our inept feet to a few indie classics. For a change of scene we wandered over to Come Out 2Nite in the marquee. Ever danced on nuggets of coal before? Maybe we were tenderizing them for the hungry steam trains. Dancing on stony ground to Johnny Boy's You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes seemed entirely appropriate especially the line "And you get what you deserve." Entirely inappropriate was Madonna's Into The Groove. It's an indie disco, no need to pander to the ignorant majority who don't know their Field Mice from their Field Trip.

Saturday started off awash with sunshine and then July mimicked October. Somehow we missed The Hillfields and most of Red Shoe Diaries but could they have bettered The Felt Tips? These Scottish lads were surely going to be the champions of the festival with their achingly arch songs about sex and Morrissey. But then along came The Cavalcade with their songs of rain-rinsed days in forsaken towns, of souls tortured by a captivity they've created for themselves to seek some twisted comfort. Outside clouds came to listen. But that was sunday, saturday still had several delights in the shape of the untamed energy of Betty & The Werewolves and The Give It Ups, boldly ramshackle and unformed. The Just Joans had yet another swipe at Morrissey, what is this fascination Scottish bands have with the old queen? Missed the Smittens, no doubt all glee and twee, but did mostly enjoy the leisurely pop of The Orchids; sometimes their sound is a little too sedate, like a supper club band for nonagenarians. Ballboy we heard from the car as we tried to remind ourselves what it was like to be warm. Even from afar they sounded good. Hurried back for Tender Trap but apart from Oh Katrina and the new single they failed to make me sway or swoon. Forgive me Amelia, it can't be you, it must be me. Rounded the day off with a dose of The Primitives, Tracy Tracy looking like an unsoiled Brix Smith. Not entirely engaged until I heard a succession of hits and Nothing Left. A quick shimmy to some shiny tunes spun by the very capable Astrogirl and then back to the menacing cardboard Lenny Henry.

The Indietracks train was inexorably approaching the terminus and parts of my brain were already anticipating the anti-climax of monday morning. No shabby sunshine, all blue skies, but the day would darken, mirroring the growing gloom in me as I knew this fabulous weekend was soon to end. We wandered among the buses and the trains, locating bits of my lost childhood, shreds of it coagulating into a confused whole, before heading back for the quiz. This meant missing the splendid M J Hibbett, perhaps a mistake as our quiz performance would have brought the wrath of Ann Robinson down upon us, "White Town had the highest chart position of any Indietracks band, not The Primitives, who can't tell the difference between his no.1's and his no.2's?" Cloaked in the rags of defeat we cheered ourselves up with the spectacular beauty of The Cavalcade who spun webs of shimmering melody in the church. Most of our remaining hours were spent getting ever chillier under the wasp tree watching The Loves and their buxom dancers, the criminally under-attended Cannanes, the splendid Standard Fare, the shrill Shrag who seemed incapable of introducing songs without foul imprecations, the two children sitting near us loved them. Missed Slow Club, by all accounts a mistake, but did turn up with the Swansea collective to see The Pooh Sticks, a band I've sort of overlooked for years, but with their homemade placards displaying song titles and their recruitment of Amelia they passed the time. It was when they played On Tape that they suddenly won me over. Shame it was their last song. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart closed the festival and they sounded better live than on record. The new material was as uplifting and vital as the older stuff. They kicked off with This Love Is Fucking Right and I knew my love for them was right too. I felt an errant tear stroll down my cheek as I knew these ecstatic days in Derbyshire were coming to an end. We delayed the inevitable comedown dancing to Joy Division and Talking Heads but we knew when the dull spectre of Bruce Springsteen haunted the decks that the real world, that icy world of a celebrity-saturated media, the Simon Cowell corporate leviathan and R & B sludge silting up the charts, was soon to impinge on our little village-like idyll.

Goodbye Indietracks-till next year.

The Escorts

Not an offshoot of the Cortinas, the Escorts was a less prolific brand made in the powerpop mould. A rare model, their only single was seldom seen and some doubted its existence. The Escorts was manufactured in Melbourne, Derbyshire and only a few hundred miles worth of gigs were clocked up before the engine went phut. Bingo is a cry of despair, an outrage at the rise of the bingo hall, usually at the expense of the local cinema, which broke out like a plague of boils on a seventies Britain that eyed culture with contempt and suspicion. Team this up with The Fall's Bingo Master's Breakout, Mr DJ, and be the envy of the lone geek exiled in anorak corner at some cool retro club.

Band members were Dave T vocals, Bob W guitar, Anthony G bass and Andrew S drums. The record was released in 1980 or thereabouts on Rainbow Sound, the name of the studio in Nottingham where it was recorded.


The new CD by the Hardy Boys, Play Songs From The Lenin And McCarthy Songbook is out now. I can wholeheartedly recommend this if you love quality pop music. Three of the four tracks from their very rare 12" are present including the splendid Wonderful Lie which will be featuring at my forthcoming wedding. What higher recommendation could anyone want?

Here's the link to their MySpace page where you can hear four of the songs from the LP.


I recently received a selection of CDs from legendary Scottish indie band The Hardy Boys. For those of you ignorant of their unjustly insignificant mark in the music world, I suggest you purchase a copy of the Let The World Smother You CD on Egg records. They released one fabulous 12" single on Stella Five records which appears to have been based in Shrewsbury although the record was produced in Edinburgh in August 1989. What the mysterious connection between Shropshire and Scotland is I am at a loss to impart.

Those involved in this essential slice of quality pop confection were Michael Bonini on keyboards, Alan Bannister on guitar and vocals, John White on vocals and guitar, David McArthur on bass and vocals and Ian McLachlan on drums. Lead track Wonderful Lie has surfaced on a Japanese comp called Pop Renaissance and you can also hear it on their MySpace page along with some other splendid songs. Hunt hard for that first single for believe me if you never hear it you should weep mournful tears as you range the Shropshire meadows in despair. Should it pop up on ebay be prepared to sacrifice that summer holiday, it's been known to sell for over £300.

The Hardy Boys formed in 1985 and hailed from Greenock. Various songs were recorded for comps in Europe and America before the Wonderful Lie single was released. Arduous touring in a battered van in 1990 failed to stir a slumbering public and the band split after a gig in the granite city of Aberdeen on December 3, 1990.

It was hardly all change though as the split amounted to nothing more than kicking John White out of the band and adapting the Human Torch's battle cry "Flame On" to Flame Up. Under this name the band they hoped to set the world ablaze. Within a few weeks John had rejoined the band but they kept the new name which, in hindsight, proved to be a mistake as a new moniker ensured getting gigs was a difficulty. There was a slightly tougher edge to their new sound which seemed more suited to the indiepop landscape of the time. Yet little impact was made despite their new material being equally as vibrant and hook-heavy as the Hardy Boys stuff. They released a 7" in 1992, Need I Say More/Mr.God, which an inattentive public failed to notice (including myself). Then in 1993 John quit the band. This inconvenience was countered by David McArthur taking on vocal duties and recruiting Brian Branford on guitar. But in 1994 they called it a day.

Was it all over? No. Michael, John and Derek Mullen recorded ten songs between 1997 and 1999 and released a CD entitled Nova Scotia. Then in 2000 Michael moved to Canada but before he departed a Hardy Boys/Flame Up reunion played a one off gig.

Is it all over now? No. More Hardy Boys gigs are promised in the future and an LP will be released in the coming months. Fortunately one of Scotland's finest bands are still conjuring up superior tunes and it's about time you listened.

Thanks to Michael Bonini for the extremely informative letter without which I couldn't have written this piece.


Found in a secondhand record shop in London for £25. A xmas present from the girlfriend as she saw me tugging a few raddled notes from my pocket and took charitable pity on me.Daktari Swets on lead vocal, Pete Watt on vocals and guitar, Nick Calloway on lead guitar, Andy Hill on bass and Big G on drums made up The Form. Watch Out, a perky piece of punky pop, was released on Elephant records and has the catalogue number Tun 2 which is a teasing hint that there exists a Tun 1. One suspects they were fresh out of school in 1980 when this blast of juvenilia was released. Two other songs, London Underground and Start Again, lurk with potent intent on the B side. All worthy of a gold star.


I've come over all mid-eighties pop so my apologies to those who find a tune a little tiresome but you can voice your displeasure after you've heard this heavily treated version of When You Walk In The Room. Made palatable by the Searchers in the sixties this Ullmanesque experiment failed to meet with a dawn chorus of approval, as did their other two singles, one being a cover of Teenage Kicks, no doubt an attempt to curry favour with John Peel. Liz Kershaw, Andy's sister, was in the band, she maybe the singer, there are scant details on the sleeve, and I can picture her pestering Peel to play this. Rumour has thrown Carol Vorderman into the mix too but I'm sceptical about that though maybe she counted the band in. For a while Dawn Chorus And The Blue Tits records were top of the tree on Japanese collectors' lists; I think they perch on a lower branch now. I found this last week in a charity shop in Notting Hill for £1. The wonderful Jackie De Shannon wrote the song, fact fans.


Found this in a charity shop in Oxford about two years ago. The A side has more zip than a pair of Brian Rix's trousers. The two B sides are moderate fare. Came out in 1980 on the artily named Graphic Design label. In the picture the Moving Targets are moving so fast they appear to be standing still. Seeming to be intently devout, gathered around a lectern they may have pilfered from a church, these four lads are looking for a congregation to help boost sales. The turnout was poor and they shuffled off back to obscurity.

This is probably their only release and as this was recorded in Yorkshire I think they were most likely northern lads. Little information is offered on the sleeve except that the music and lyrics were written by Steve Walker and Dave Purcell and production and photography was by Bill Nelson.

DAS SCHNITZ------They got played on Dr.Hook's radio

No, I didn't get a phone call from Sylvia's mother imploring I heap praise on Dr.Hook, this is a single by Das Schnitz who couldn't afford proper sleeves and so like anarchic magpies borrowed other artists' sleeves and customized them. This particular punk typhoon hit Torquay, the band's home town, in early 1979 when this single was released in a pressing of 533 on Ellie Jay. Some one hundred or so ended up in the borrowed sleeves before legal action was threatened by a major label claiming the customization was an infringement of copyright. Artists who unknowingly helped the Das Schnitz cause by providing the single with an overcoat include Blondie, Chaka Khan, Funkadelic and, if this isn't a fake, Dr.Hook.The band members were Tim Dodge on vocals/guitar, Nardi Jahangiri on vocals/guitar, Stuart Gordon on bass and Kevin Perry on drums. They were 16/17 years old and they lost their gig virginity at Torquay Girls Grammar School. After that there were no worlds left to conquer.

HAIRSLIDES AHOY!-Indietracks, a festival with music and trains.

I've never been one for attaching myself to scenes. True I marched down the Kings Road in the summer of 77 one sunny saturday with a fifty strong army of punks. Havoc was not unleashed on good citizens until six or seven teds were spotted in Sloane Square whereupon a charge was mounted against the musical throwbacks. These days it would be hard to find a punk in the Kings Road, let alone a teddy boy.

This weekend I ventured north to a field in Derbyshire to experience a festival called Indietracks. If I thought the spirit of C86 had evaporated in the nineties amid a fuzz of grunge guitars and acned laddism I was to be pleasantly surprised. C86 was never a movement or scene, it was simply an NME tape/LP that was intended to portray a cross section of sounds that were happening in 1986. People conveniently forget that not only did it showcase the talents of the Close Lobsters, Primal Scream and Wedding Present but also the defiantly unpoppy meanderings of Stump, Bogshed and MacKenzies. Whatever the merits of the latter groups it was the former that inspired and engendered a longing in many boys and girls across the land to grasp a guitar and proclaim the joys of love reciprocated or, usually, denied.

Indietracks was held at the Midland Railway Centre and a few bands even played on moving trains. There was a main stage outside run under the aegis of Elefant records who were celebrating twenty years in the music biz. There was also a stage in a converted locomotive shed and one in a small church. More than fifty acts played over the weekend. Unfortunately I was only there for the sunday. As I waited on the platform to board the train to see the Manhattan Love Suicides I was coaxed into a nostalgic reverie as I surveyed the crowd: girls in spotty or flowery dresses, hairslides harassing their hair and boys in denim or corduroy jackets sporting a colourful crop of badges. It felt like being at a Sarah records convention.

The day went by in a whirl of discovery and disappointment. The weather, a ceaseless dribble of rain from 4pm onwards, and the Manhattan Love Suicides announcing they had split up before they were about to play were the only downers. Engulfed in ecstasy, caught in a torrent of joy, those two minor infractions were soon dismissed. Bands like the School, the mental but so loveable Stereo Total, the rapturous Northern Portrait, the playful Smittens, the pristine powerpop of Spain's Cooper, the deceptively delicate Pocketbooks, and the hypnotic gentle menace of Help Stamp Out Loneliness propelled me to the sun-glazed shores of happiness. Seeing the BMX Bandits with frontman Duglas now resembling one of the Bonzo Dog Band doing an impression of Rick Wakeman carved a smile on my face that only surgeons could remove. And to top it all Teenage Fanclub, the sunday night headliners, were in fine form.

Highlight above all highlights though was seeing half of the legendary Talulah Gosh do a short acoustic set in a tent. Amelia's voice broke up as she succumbed to laughter and smiles. Grown men sobbed. A Japanese man had to be restrained from committing hara-kiri. And Amelia was playing an unplugged electric guitar acoustically, it was that silly and that fabulous.

If Indietracks is a "scene" then I'm hooking myself up to it.

EGGSTONE------Hatched in the garden of Sweden

This isn't a rare Three Stooges single. Would I shovel shit of that abominable nature down your ears? It's not even Abbot and Costello plus one; no it's Swedish indie popsters Eggstone and their opening vinyl salvo released in 1990 on Das Supersound Project. Patrik Bartosch, Maurits Carlsson and Per Sunding made up Eggstone and a true representation of the band appears on the back cover. Bubblebed was joined by two other tunes, Have You Seen Mary? and See The Good Thing. Many other releases followed until 1999; since then they have been dormant.

IMPOSSIBLE DREAMERS-------They liked libraries

This single was recorded on January 7th 1980 thereby missing any critical appraisal from Mr.45 Revs. Books Books Books, the stand out track is, freakishly, a tribute to words rounded up and herded onto pages of books. This first release on Merciful Release shone a light on four fine songs of unrefined charm plus one throwaway track. The Impossible Dreamers was Caroline on vocals, Nick on guitar and vocals, Justin on bass, Colin on guitar and Simon on drums with various guests contributing handclaps.

The first three named held the group together for most of the eighties. Though they never got within a "now then, now then" of the charts they deserve a cigar for tenacity.

In 1982 they released Life On Earth, a Y (label) reg excursion into post punk. B side Spin was apparently a dance sensation in a club in New York. In 1984 came This House Built On Sand, a bright zingy number they could have stolen from the Bhundu Boys. In 1985 came August Avenue, a Johnny Marr production, which was a pleasant, if rather anaemic, pop effort.

By now RCA had extended a corporate hand and in either 1986 or 1987 they released one of their strongest singles, Say Goodbye To No One, which was stuffed with drama courtesy of Abbaesque piano and Caroline's sky-skidding vocals.

NINE STEPS TO UGLY---------A thing of beauty from Slough

According to Eddie Cochran there are three steps to heaven, a fact that through paranormal channels he could possibly confirm for us. Now if Eddie was the curious type he would have continued climbing the metaphorical stairs until he reached ugly which, according to this band from Slough, exists on a higher plane than heaven. Despite their arcane and clumsy name Nine Steps To Ugly relish constructing a straightforward pop tune.

So who was Eddie Lopez? He was the Labour candidate for Slough in the 1987 and 1992 elections, finishing runner up on both occasions to the Conservatives. If you're anticipating a song in Redskins fire and brimstone mould you'll be disappointed. And if I have to explain to you who Bobby Charlton is I'll be disappointed. Bobby Charlton's Haircut, the second song on this flexi is, I think, obscurely referenced by the unusual placing of the apostrophe in the title of the tune as the song itself pays no tribute to Mr.Charlton's disingenuous wispy fibre formation.

Nine Steps To Ugly was made up of Tracey Owen on vocals, Jim Turner on guitar, Cameron Smillie on guitar, Nick Elson on bass and Dave Best on drums and they played their final gig in June 1989 supported by a Thousand Yard Stare.


Recorded in three days in August 1987 this superior independent release vaulted into the pop world to a clamour of indifference. Unfair treatment indeed. With lyrics redolent of Morrissey after an all night kitchen sink drama video session they may well have been ready to perch on the throne of misery the Smiths were about to vacate. Nothing more was forthcoming though and this slice of pulchritudinous pop was consigned to the carrier bag of discarded dreams.

The band consisted of Brian Green on vocals, Duane Fontaine on guitar, Louis Jones on guitar, Andy Reynolds on bass and Ed Grimshaw on drums. I had an email from Dr. Andy Reynolds who tells me that Louis Jones and Ed Grimshaw went on to form the Warm Jets and Brian Green went on to record an LP with Hugh Cornwell, then went to Nashville and now teaches song-writing MA in Bath. Apparently there exist videos of the band performing other songs which may one day appear on Youtube. Dr.Reynolds is now a reader in medieval archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in London. Perhaps five hundred years from now someone will dig up an old Fontaines record and marvel at this gleaming example of mid eighties pop.

FLYING COLOURS-------Art for music's sake.

Did the Beatles invent powerpop? Was it then purloined by the Americans to enliven the seventies? What is the best powerpop song of all time? Is it I Thought You Wanted To Know by Chris Stamey And The DB's? Or I Need That Record by the Tweeds? Or Go All The Way by the Raspberries? Or Teen Line by the Shivvers? Or is it, unlike the aforementioned all American line up, by a British band called Flying Colours? A song with a killer chorus which includes the line "she has a cube instead of a heart" somehow failed to inspire the public to man their paint pots and flourish their brushes. This sister song to My Baby Does Good Sculptures by the Rezillos should have decorated the charts for weeks, instead it sold as many paintings as Van Gogh did during his lifetime. On this ocassion it was the public who had cut their ears off. How could one not be attracted to the tale of a boy who doesn't understand his artistic girlfriend and her penchant for painting green-faced women with purple hair? To him it's a load of Pollocks.

Flying Colours was Tony Love on guitars, John Barton on guitar, Russell Young on bass and vocals and Dave O'Regan on drums. Abstract Art, released in 1981, was their only single and it was backed by a tedious instrumental. Now did the Pleasers invent Thamesbeat? Discuss

THE SCOOP-----So good ladies took their clothes off for them.

The Daily Mail, the paper which helps the ignorant become the misinformed ignorant, would shudder at this lewd cover. There is something of the MacBethian-hag-at-cauldron look about these two unashamed nudes disporting themselves on the cover of the Scoop's single. The longer I gaze on them the more a certain actress named Patricia Hodge comes to mind.

Musically the Scoop delight in amateurish mod-friendly unfussy tunes a little reminiscent of the Head. The band consisted of Martyn Clapson on lead guitar/vocals, Sam Hodgkin on vocals, James Morris on bass guitar and John Turner on drums and vocals. The record was released in the dying days of the seventies on the band's own label Sharp. In early 1981 they recorded a tape only LP before being ladled into the great incinerator of obscurity.


Yesterday a much sought after mod revival single turned up in one of my esteemed haunts, Alan's record shop in East Finchley. The B-Team single was as hard to pin down as the A-Team. Three or four times it refused to succumb to my bidding on ebay. Not in pristine condition but worth the £4 I paid for it as it last sold on ebay for around £60. Outbid at the last that day finding it yesterday was a succulent joy.

Released on the Diamond Record Corporation in 1985 it is apparently the label's eighth attempt at chart success. So what are the others?

The B-Team consisted of Tony Vessey on bass, Kelvin Davis on guitar/vocals, Doug McNair on keyboards and Steve Bessemer on drums. On the sleeve the band are nonchalantly hovering around an E-Type Jag, ostensibly void of all envy but secretly hoping record sales will boost their accounts and enable them to ditch their Vespas and secure ownership of the sleek contraption they are defiantly trying to ignore. What halted their path to glory? Lack of airplay, bad promotion, poor distribution or the uncanny resemblance one of the band has to Jimmy Nail. We can only speculate but the irony is that if one of the band had fifty copies of their single fraternizing with dust in the attic and he released them into ebay world he'd probably be able to buy an E-Type Jag.

This Replica

The girlfriend went on a reconnaissance mission to deepest East Anglia at the weekend. She was officially on a hen weekend but she was secretly scouting for lost pleasures inscribed on shards of plastic. Straying from the battalion of boozy women she stumbled on a dusty junkshop where sunlight hissed in corners like shrivelled snakes. From the vinyl detainees she liberated a single by This Replica from 1988 on the evocatively named Fenrock label. This is the second release on Fenrock; she also returned with Fen 01, Why You Lie by Nutmeg.
This Replica consisted of Darren Walker on vocals and lead and rhythm guitar, Lyndsey Paxton on keyboards, Chris Scurrah on bass guitar and Jim Thorby on drums.
On the cover they appear to be posing in a playground in the grip of deep and original thoughts, perhaps contemplating the onslaught of impending fame that would whisk them away from East Anglian drudgery. Their dreams turned out to be as flat as the fens; but they do have a MySpace page and are still looking for the signpost to success amidst the early morning Norfolk mists.


Nothing much to glean from this Keen sleeve. The back has a painting by Nicci Hastings. It's a close up of a clown, jovial and heavily made up. Does that help? Released on Scaredy Cat records in 1990 the Sad EP contains four pleasant pop ditties with female vocals. Were they an all girl band? They excel in the art of mimicry on On Your Knees which sounds like Politics by Girls At Our Best; it even has the audacity to steal one of the lines from the chorus. They appear to have been based in Morden, that dull suburb where the Northern line gives up.

They released another single called Feline Groovy which C86 collectors salivate over. I have been dribbling in desperation for it for some years now. All copies are rumoured to reside in Japan. If you believe there is a missing link between Dolly Mixture and Heavenly then I think I may have found the proof.

Four feral lads from Bury

Four feral lads from Bury recorded this single in early 1978. Here we see them regaled in the armour of youth, leather and denim, bar one poor soul who has not yet received his dole cheque clad only in a v neck jumper. The premises outside which they lurk is Vibes record shop which rather than shoo them away invited them in and even financed this jagged effort. A limited edition of a 1000 singles were pressed, which these days would be an over production. Things Go Wrong/We Are Normal are raw and ragged and positively sizzle with potential. The four men involved were Graham "Raggy FC" Holden on vocals, Doug Hoyles on bass, Roy Tynan on guitar and vocals and Graham Barstow on drums. Tynan had the temerity to turn down an invitation to join the Fall reasoning that Mark E. Smith was a control freak.

Undeterred by a lack of urgency from the public for more Reducers product Vibes put out a second single, Man With A Gun, anyway. Not quite the equal in splenetic splendour as their first release it was still a fine accomplishment.

Then the men from EMI came calling and thing did go wrong. Crazed keyboards roamed the land and in acts of mock castration brutally prised guitars away from their loved ones. Men who once stalked the stage like actors from an Osbournesque landscape now sheepishly hid behind tinny synthesizers. Empty Mindless Idiom released the Reducers third and final single Airways, an execrable synth pop confection, and the band were reduced to zeros.


Sarah Goes Shopping released, as far as I know, just two singles on Crystal Clear records. Where they came from, who they were, these are questions I can't answer. Singer Sarah , let's call her that, utilises her delicate vocals to transport you to a charming land where Trixies Big Red Motorbike sell out gigs at the O2 and Dolly Mixture occupy five of the slots in the top ten of the singles chart. This is what Lily Allen might sound like if she were Woody's daughter rather than the roguish Keith. Released in 1985 to a torrent of tumbleweed-like indifference Sarah and her consumerist urges parked themselves on the street accompanied by a wicker basket, a paving stone's distance away, as if its presence and function was a profound embarrassment. If you saw her busking outside Woolworths I hoped you dropped a handful of pick n' mix into her basket and then went and bought this four track EP. If you didn't you have no right to listen to this track.


Discovered in MVE a few months back this odd little effort from the Faraway Stars fell from the skies in 1981 on Robo records. The group was made up of Rose Saddler on bass and backing vocals, Pete Giles on synthesizers, Fran Ashcroft on vocals and guitars and Mick Pearl on drums.
The A side sounds as if it erupted from a bad teen movie cash-in celebrating the waywardness of early eighties youth. Production is pinned down to a minimum as befits a record that comes in a thin paper sleeve. Remember that Joy Division look? Brooding around on bridges and in underpasses suits some but is undermined here by the bicycle. Let's hope they stole it and they ride without clips.

Their genius remained inconspicuous and they vanished, possibly to roam around the planets.

I think the B side the better of the two tracks. It's no classic but it's mildly engaging though one might expect a little more threat from a song called Sex And Violence. Listen for yourselves.

Less Jungle, More Jangle, Elephant Noise Trunk It Up

Go north of the border and you'll find the tradition of indie pop jangle still thriving. Maybe it's the deep fried Mars bars or the cold winds that glide mercilessly through the crofts that inspires the Scots to don their guitars and celebrate Byrdsian pop in a fruitless search for a hint of US West Coast sunshine. Is there a finest British powerpop band than Teenage Fanclub? Wasn't indiepop started by those imperious scamps Orange Juice?

Elephant Noise's horrendously rare 12" contains four songs. Of these my favourite is Halloween Day. A darkness pervades this plea to a friend to leave his old love behind, find a new one, exorcise old ghosts, gather up memories and stove them away and dance with new demons; deny the rumbling echoes of the past and ruthlessly grasp the future. Not far behind in my affections is Remember The Big Time which bristles with energy, a sort of ferocious REM-like sound. The contemplative Cactus Talk is as ruminative as the Triffids at their maudlin best. And This Song Is Our Friend whispers warm thoughts and threads a web of hope around mundane hearts.

Four men were responsible for this overlooked masterpiece, Tom Heaney (drums and keyboards), Neil Barber (rhythm guitar, violin and vocals), Stuart Allardyce (lead guitars) and Neil Tayler (bass). Pour praise on to them, they warrant it. The ep came out in 1991 on Rub Records, which I suspect was their own label, and I urge you to seek it out.


1. Many years ago, 1980, in a rainy city named Manchester a record label called Object existed. Grow-Up was responsible for one of the label's greatest pop moments. It was their second release on Object, the first featured six tracks of tentative and twisty half-formed songs. An LP called The Best Thing was an extension of ideas that had been toyed with on the debut single. Then suddenly out of nowhere came Joanne.
2. A stop-start paean to young love among the rocks kissed by the North Sea surf, the jittery nervousness of that first crush, the awe in which the loved one is observed while doing the most mundane things, these are touchingly conveyed. "From Scarborough Harbour to Whitley Bay, I'm gonna love you for just one day", they sing and then declare, in glorious contradiction, the genius line "Will you marry me before I go gay?" If they had been a hundred miles further north they would have been Orange Juice. The b side has two tunes called "The Affirmation of Existence" and "Gggdadgadadad" so they were probably art students who eventually merged into one and became Tracey Emin, but for the sake of Joanne we can forgive them that. 3. Another LP was released, Without Wings on the Up label, shortly before the band grew up too much to devote time to an unsuccessful band. More in the spirit of Joanne with occasional daring adventures into jazzy pop their tuneful tinkering deserved more than the oblivion that embraced it. 4. Listen to it on imeem.

Peach Thieves

Nostalgia is not a modern obsession. The fifties American family was celebrated on the cover of this 1988 flexi release by the Peach Thieves. Prosperous and fun-loving, the uniform of happiness for the girls is pleated skirts which implies a rigid adherence to structure and formality. Are the men wearing bespoke trousers? The little girl is goggle-eyed as if she's never entertained the notion of a spherical object propelling itself forward without continuous aid from a human limb. One feels this is not an instant or an ecstatic seizure, rather that this family was permanently in thrall to joy. The elder girl is already accepting her future role to some stifling husband as she brings forth the crass nectar of 1950's corporate America, Coca Cola. And where better place to offload all that youthful energy your kids are harnessing than the bowling alley? The adamantine ideals, such as truth, justice and the attaining of the American dream, parents are eager to instill in their offspring can be forged in the healthy competitiveness sport encourages.

The sleeve is misleading as the two tracks the Peach Thieves offer us are in a C86 style. They came from Lindal-in-Furness, Cumbria and they were Philip on vocals and guitar, Johnny on guitar, Shaun on bass and Chris on drums. Johnny is modelling himself on Johnny Marr on the reverse sleeve. The record is dedicated to Vic Godard. I'd hazard a guess he never heard it. Both tracks are accomplished. Morecambe Bay is a slow wistful paean to the summer of 1987 when the boys were apparently being bullied by surfers on the beach.

What became of the Peach Thieves? Who were they? Did they ever release anything else?

Hear 'Out Of The Nowhere' on imeem.

Spaghetti Head

It's 1992 and Spaghetti Head is caught in the maelstrom of the indie dance. Do you miss those times? If you do here's a band that sound like the Happy Mondays, Farm and the Soup Dragons. Steeped in the mood of the moment they weren't because the indie dance had been murdered in the mosh pits as Nirvana and their head-shaking hordes swept through the venues of Britain. Grunge was a big sponge that soaked up those who were all Bezzed out.

It was the girlfriend who directed me towards this lot and as she has a well trained ear I had no hesitation in rescuing this from a charity shop in Ruislip Manor. It's an unpleasant cover and Spaghetti Head is an atrocious name so even before this hits the decks you're consciously disliking it. Once it gets its groove though you feel compelled to rotate wildly. There's no info on the band and the B side is an instrumental version of Glad! Did they release anything else? It's doubtful considering they couldn't even supply an original B side. This really is the behaviour of a bunch of session musicians.

Worst band names league:

1 Toad The Wet Sprocket
2 Regular Fries
3 Spaghetti Head

Food and band names, not a good idea (I'm sure they eat toads somewhere).

Human Cabbages

They came from Coventry, or at least the label was based there. Boys And Girls Records had released an earlier record, a 7" compilation EP called Boys And Girls Come Out To Play which is incredibly rare, if you know of its whereabouts let me know, which featured one track by the Human Cabbages. There were five cabbages, Rosa on vocals, Steve Teers on organ, synth and trombone, Johnny Fagsnbooze (I want that surname) on guitar and vocals, Stan on bass and Steve W. on drums. This vinyl delight was released in 1981 to unimaginable disinterest.

The lead track "The Witch" is a jaunty ditty about a visit to said witch, whether a white or black witch is not clear. But one imagines witches of both persuasions abound in the midlands. Judging by the organ sound the band had been to a funfair just before recording this gem. "Air Raid Shelter" is a messy clash of post punk leaning towards groggy prog with a dash of smog-ingested rock to confuse.

After this the Human Cabbages disappeared, perhaps they were savaged by greenfly.

Final track I will be offering on Imeem to let you enjoy for yourselves.

Girl Talk

The prototype Reynolds Girls dressed in jackets provided by House Of Arthur Daley fashions. Their other single Marvellous Guy is bright and breezy pop which sounds like classic Wham. Both singles are on Innervision, Wham's label. In fact if you listen hard enough you can hear George Michael blow drying his hair during the middle eight. This song is only slightly inferior, a sort of Tina Charles/Sheena Easton confection. The girl in the top of the picture has a nasty dark stain spreading through her hair which probably accounts for her moody demeanour. The other girl has a hint of a smile because she has not quit her job at Smiths for pop fame though she'll have to remember to put that brooch back in Jackie magazine.