Category: Indie

The Jasmine Minks: The Jasmine Minks

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Creation 1985.  CRELP007

Discogs

The Jasmine Minks are synonymous with the early Creation sound; jangly guitars, some strong songwriting and lots of energy.  No doubt their success was helped by their association with the label, but they made some great records which helped to define early indiepop.

This was their second album and it has some great material.  Cold Heart was a single and has appeared here before, but the album is pretty consistent.

It suffers somewhat from the interferance of Alan McGee.  At his insistence, some of the original material was dropped and replaced by tracks from earlier sessions which makes the whole thing sound a bit disjointed.

The Chesterfields: Blame

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Household 1988.  HOLD 3T

Discogs

I had quite a tasty treat planned for today, but the upload failed, so another single it has to be.

There’s nothing particularly original about the Chesterfields, but as I’ve said before, there’s a lot to be said for a great pop song well performed, and this one has a trombone as an added bonus.

You could never accuse the band of outstaying their welcome, specialising as they did in very short songs.  I very much like the idea of saying what you want to say and then shutting up.  However why it was necessary to use so much vinyl for so little music isn’t clear.

The band have featured here a couple of times before, thanks to their tenure on Subway, but this single is from much later in their career, which I guess is why it sounds so slick.

The Nightblooms: Crystal Eyes

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Fierce 1990.  Fright041

Discogs

The Nightblooms were a Dutch band who had obviously made quite a study of the likes of MBV and Slowdive, but they did take their aesthetic somewhere a bit new.  This single is awash with fuzzed out guitar, loads of wah-wah and twee female vocals very low in the mix.   The song is so great it feels like they must have nicked it from somewhere, but I can’t place it.  The B side is similar, but without a tune it doesn’t work that well.

It’s an odd release though because it’s on the somewhat dodgy Fierce Records, which have featured here quite a bit.  However this is a totally normal record.  The band are real and were signed to Fierce.  It was distributed properly, has the playing time you’d expect, with proper covers and label art work.  It might be the only Fierce release I have which is like it.

Big Flame: Tough

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Ron Johnson 1985.  ZRON 4

Discogs

I guess Big Flame will always be best remembered for appearing on the C86 compilation, but they didn’t come close to fitting that cliché because there was nothing twee or unoriginal about them.  Their angular, jarring guitar sound became what their label was best known for, and was some of the most interesting guitar based music around back then, with a healthy dose of radical politics thrown in for good measure.  However it’s not an easy listen, so if you’re after unchallenging indiepop, look elsewhere.

They seem largely forgotten now apart from the occasional re-issue, none of which are now available.  However they were apparently a huge influence on the Manic Street Preachers in their early Richie Manic period (no real connection though between Big Flame and what the Manics went on to become).

The Pooh Sticks: Multiple Orgasm

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Fierce 1991.  Fright 047

Discogs

By the time this came out I’d got very bored of the Pooh Sticks, but this was in a bargain bin, and against my better judgement, I bought it.  It’s actually an expanded re-issue of Orgasm, with a bunch of studio tracks appended to the original release.

Side 1, supposedly recorded live includes most of their early tracks.  Surprisingly they’re the most proficient and well recorded versions of these songs, so my purchase wasn’t quite as ill advised as I thought.  Of course when I say proficient, I mean proficient by Pooh Sticks standards, so don’t expect too much.

Side 2’s studio recordings are a bit of a mess, and follow Fierce’s weird penchant for mono recordings.

The Loft: Up The Hill And Down The Slope

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Creation 1985.  CRE015T

Discogs

The Loft were Peter Astor’s first band, and this, their second and final single was a highlight of Creation’s early years.  Actually, strictly speaking it wasn’t their last single, because oddly they released another one in 2006 on Static Caravan.  The title track has actually appeared here before on the Creation Flowers In The Sky compilation, but the remaining three tracks haven’t.  The last track is something of a surprise – it’s a Richard Hell and the Voidoids cover which works better than you’d think.

Astor went on to form the Weather Prophets after the on-stage demise of The Loft, who have also appeared here several times, and he also recorded for Creation as a solo artist.

I’ve never been able to see much distinction between this band and the Weather Prophets, other than the line-up of course.  Both produced some of the best indiepop of the 80s, and this single regularly makes it onto those tedious journo “best of” lists.

Unusually for Creation, this single sounds pretty good.  It’s well recorded and pressed.  I guess Alan McGee was less wasted this early in the label’s history.

The Weather Prophets: Almost Prayed

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Creation Records 1986.  CRE029

Discogs

I’m a bit the worse for wear after an evening in the pub, so this has to be simple.  This is, I think, the best thing Peter Astor ever did.  You’re supposed to say that he did his best work with The Loft, but, well, I disagree.

This has a killer guitar riff, it’s a great song and they play it really well.  Is there anything to add to that?  Well if there is, I can’t think of it.

I was broke in 1986, so this isn’t the 12″, nor is it the limited double 7″.  It’s the cheapskate 7″, but that doesn’t matter because the title track is all you need.  If you can sit still while it’s playing, you should go to the doctor.

The Pooh Sticks: Go Go Girl

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Cheree 1989.  CHEREE3F

Discogs

I’m not much into flexis for obvious reasons, but these tracks only appear here, and as flexis go it doesn’t sound too bad.

Go Go Girl is a pretty straight cover of a Marc Bolan song.  Simon E apparently worked for Rough Trade and I guess they didn’t like him.

For me, the Pooh Sticks had rather lost their way at this point.  They’d left behind the joyful wind-ups of their early records, but hadn’t yet turned into a band that could make music which stood up without the humour.  All credit to them for pulling that transformation off, but they hadn’t quite got there in 1989.

Birdland: Live

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Lazy Recordings 1989.  lazy 16T

Discogs

Back in the 1980s, the economics of music were different.  Going to see bands was pretty cheap, but buying recorded music was expensive.  In those days, touring was a way of drumming up record sales, whereas now it’s reversed and the prices reflect that.  So it was astonishingly generous of Birdland to give this album away at gigs.  OK, it’s one sided and has no cover or tracklisting, but for free, who’s complaining.

The band used to drink in the same pub as me and I found them annoying.  They’d hold court in the corner of the pub with their bleached hair and glamorous looking entourage, while I’d be sitting elsewhere, not looking good, with my mates who were also not looking good.  I must admit that I did quietly rejoice when they fell out of favour as quickly as they arrived.  I really wanted them to be a terrible band, but the problem is, they weren’t, as this live album shows.  They did loud, chaotic punk influenced rock’n’roll, with no quiet songs to show their sensitive side.  That this live album, which I assumed would be quite rare turns out to be close to worthless demonstrates that the uncoolness they acquired so quickly has never gone away, and perhaps that explains why their career was so short.  The performance here is a bit of a shambles, and the sound isn’t great – although there was little audible bass on their studio recordings too, but it captures the energy of a really exciting live band.  Listening to it now after many years it’s actually better than I remember.  This kind of music is timeless, and I’ve long since forgotten how annoying they were in the pub.

I didn’t quite get the tracks divided properly when I ripped this, so one of the files has 2 songs.  I could fix it, but it’s late and I want to go to bed.  Sorry.

The Weather Prophets: She Comes From The Rain

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Elevation Records 1987.  ACID1TX

Discogs

I’ve got a surprisingly long way through this blog without posting any Weather Prophets (apart from a track on the Purple compilation), but Manny reminded me a few days back, so here’s the first of several.

This single, the limited edition version with an extra track no less was from their period away from Creation.  Actually Elevation was a short lived major label run by Alan McGee designed to feed Creation acts into the mainstream with a bit of marketing muscle.  Those ideas usually fail, and Elevation was no exception – the records they put out were somehow cheapened by the marketing, and in any case didn’t attract a new audience but did alienate their existing fan base.  This single might have looked cheap, but musically is pretty decent.

Peter Astor had something of an obsession with songs about rain, hence the title track, but good though that song is, there isn’t really a stand-out here; it all works pretty well.  He even makes a pretty good job of a rather ill advised Leonard Cohen cover (Who By Fire).  It’s classy, classic Creation indiepop.

Further listening?  Cherry red have a good retrospective and a re-issue of one of their Creation albums here.