One of the most pleasant surprises of recent years has been the welcome, but very unexpected, return of 80s/90s power popsters The Primitives. After a hiatus of the best part of two decades the band re-ignited with a series of hugely entertaining gigs which they then followed with an inspired covers album.
If you loved the band first time round you will also adore thew A side Lose The Reason. It is perfect pop of the type that they had got off to a tee by the time they recorded their second album Pure and it has chorus that will lodge itself in your brain and won’t move for days.
Its flip, Always Coming Back, has more than whiff of the brilliantly cheesy country-esque adventures of one Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood and comes with an addictive shuffling beat and twangy guitar.
There’s some serious excitement at Brandish Towers this morning about the upcoming release of a new compilation of British 80s indie bands called Scared To Get Happy.
And it seems that the compilers at Cherry Red Records must have been working some serious over time for coming in June is a five CD boxed set which features pretty much anyone notable who twanged a guitar in the UK in the 80s. The full running list is below, but it really does sound like a ‘Nuggets’ for British 80s music.
The rules for the compilation is that the releases have to have been on British indie labels by UK bands. So no Go-Betweens (because they were Australian) or Echo And The Bunnymen (as they were on a major label). Pretty much everything else is here including some gems from not just the bigger labels like Creation Records, but also more eclectic ones like the brilliantly bonkers El Records.
And while it is wonderful to see so many of the era’s top bands getting the nod (Primal Scream, Primitives, House of Love etc) it is also great to see a few more obscure acts getting a belated bit of recognition. Step forward The Seers, whose driving psych pop was a big fave of mine at the end of the decade, Blow Up – a mod-style band from Brighton, and not forgetting The Claim, a much under rated Kinks-influenced band from Kent.
Cherry Red have also tried to include tracks that haven’t as yet made it on to other comps too.
So who is missing? Well there’s no Television Personalities or Felt as neither band wanted to to be on the comp. Also I’d loved to have seen Miles Over Matter and Boys Wonder, but neither band released a record on a British indie in the period.
Anyhow it sounds like a formidable collection and Cherry Red has promised it will be lavishly packaged with images, sleeve notes – the full whack. It should cost around £50.
1. THE WILD SWANS Revolutionary Spirit
2. GIRLS AT OUR BEST Getting Nowhere Fast
3. THE PALE FOUNTAINS (There’s Always) Something On My Mind
4. JOSEF K The Missionary
5. THE MONOCHROME SET Jet Set Junta
6. THE BLUE ORCHIDS Dumb Magician
7. THE MARINE GIRLS Don’t Come Back
8. THE FIRE ENGINES Candy Skin
9. DOLLY MIXTURE Everything And More
10. SCARS All About You
11. THE NIGHTINGALES Paraffin Brain
12. FARMERS BOYS I Think I Need Help
13. JANE It’s A Fine Day
14. PREFAB SPROUT Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone)
15. WEEKEND Summerdays
16. THE LINES Nerve Pylon
17. FANTASTIC SOMETHING If She Doesn’t Smile It’ll Rain
18. THE HIGSONS The Lost And The Lonely
19. EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL Feeling Dizzy *
20. BLACK Human Features
21. STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE Trees And Flowers
22. THE DAINTEES Roll On Summertime
23. NICK NICELY 49 Cigars
24. TRIXIE’S BIG RED MOTORBIKE Norman And Narcissus
25. THE CHERRY BOYS Kardomah Café
26. AZTEC CAMERA Oblivious
1. HURRAH The Sun Shines Here
2. THE PASTELS I Wonder Why
3. PULP Everybody’s Problem
4. GRAB GRAB THE HADDOCK I’m Used Now
5. FRIENDS AGAIN Honey At The Core (Moonboot Version)
6. THE BLUEBELLS Callander Green
7. LLOYD COLE & THE COMMOTIONS Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken (Indie Version)
8. IN EMBRACE This Brilliant Evening
9. MICRODISNEY Dolly
10. THE WOODENTOPS Plenty
11. THE JAZZ BUTCHER Southern Mark Smith
12. THE JASMINE MINKS Where The Traffic Goes
13. THE JUNE BRIDES Every Conversation (Single Version)
14. THE REVOLVING PAINT DREAM In The Afternoon
15. THE SHOP ASSISTANTS All Day Long
16. BIFF BANG POW! The Chocolate Elephant Man
17. JAMES Hymn From A Village
18. THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN Just Like Honey (Demo Oct ‘84)
19. THE LOFT Up The Hill And Down The Slope
20. THAT PETROL EMOTION Keen
21. YEAH YEAH NOH Temple Of Convenience
22. THE WEDDING PRESENT Go Out And Get ‘Em Boy
23. THE BODINES God Bless
24. WE’VE GOT A FUZZBOX AND WE’RE GONNA USE IT XX Sex (Demo)
25. McCARTHY Red Sleeping Beauty
26. THE MIGHTY LEMON DROPS Something Happens
1. PRIMAL SCREAM Velocity Girl
2. THE PRIMITIVES Thru The Flowers
3. THE BMX BANDITS Sad
4. MIGHTY MIGHTY Is There Anyone Out There?
5. THE SOUP DRAGONS Fair’s Fair
6. THE WOLFHOUNDS Cut The Cake
7. THE CHESTERFIELDS Completely And Utterly
8. THE SERVANTS Transparent
9. THE CLOSE LOBSTERS What Is There To Smile About (Demo)
10. POP WILL EAT ITSELF Sick Little Girl
11. THE RAZORCUTS Big Pink Cake
12. THE WEATHER PROPHETS Almost Prayed
13. JAMIE WEDNESDAY Vote For Love
14. TALULAH GOSH Beatnik Boy
15. THE DENTISTS She Dazzled Me With Basil
16. THE RAILWAY CHILDREN A Gentle Sound
17. THE GROOVE FARM Baby Blue Marine
18. JESSE GARON & THE DESPERADOES The Rain Fell Down
19. ROSEMARY’S CHILDREN (Whatever Happened To) Alice?
20. THE WONDER STUFF A Wonderful Day
21. THIS POISON! Engine Failure
22. THE BRILLIANT CORNERS Delilah Sands
23. 14 ICED BEARS Balloon Song
24. THE HEART THROBS Toy
25. THE ROSEHIPS Room In Your Heart
26. KING OF LUXEMBOURG A Picture Of Dorian Gray
1. HOUSE OF LOVE Shine On
2. THE DARLING BUDS Shame On You (Native Single Version)
3. THE POOH STICKS Indiepop Ain’t Noise Pollution
4. THE BACHELOR PAD The Albums Of Jack
5. THE SHAMEN Something About You
6. GOL GAPPAS Albert Parker
7. HANGMAN’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS Love Is Blue
8. WHIRL Heaven Forbid
9. THE BOY HAIRDRESSERS Tidalwave
10. THE FLATMATES Shimmer
11. APPLE BOUTIQUE Love Resistance
12. LAUGH Take Your Time Yeah!
13. GROOVY LITTLE NUMBERS You Make My Head Explode
14. THE WALTONES She Looks Right Through Me
15. YEAH JAZZ Sharon
16. THE CLOUDS Tranquil
17. THE RAW HERBS She’s A Nurse But She’s Alright
18. THE SIDDELEYS My Favourite Wet Wednesday Afternoon
19. RODNEY ALLEN Circle Line
20. THE CORN DOLLIES Be Small Again
21. THE HEPBURNS The World Is
22. BUBBLEGUM SPLASH One Of Those Things
23. THE McTELLS Jesse Man Rae
24. THE CHARLOTTES Are You Happy Now?
25. ANOTHER SUNNY DAY I’m In Love With A Girl Who Doesn’t Know I Exist
26. THE LA’s Son Of A Gun (Demo)
1. THE STONE ROSES The Hardest Thing In The World
2. THE INSPIRAL CARPETS Keep The Circle Around
3. THE SEA URCHINS Solace
4. CUD Only (A Prawn In Whitby)
5. THE POPGUNS Landslide
6. EAST VILLAGE Strawberry Window
7. THE FANATICS Suburban Love Songs
8. THE MILLTOWN BROTHERS Roses
9. THE ORCHIDS I’ve Got A Habit
10. BRADFORD Skin Storm
11. THE CLAIM Picking Up The Bitter Little Pieces
12. THE POPPYHEADS Pictures You Weave
13. THE SUN AND THE MOON Adam’s Song (Pour Fenella)
14. THE DESERT WOLVES Speak To Me Rochelle
15. THE GOLDEN DAWN My Secret World
16. BLOW UP Forever Holiday
17. KOROVA MILK BAR Do It Again
18. AVO-8 Big Car
19. THE RAIN Dry The Rain
20. THE BOO RADLEYS Catweazle
21. THE SEERS Sun Is In The Sky
22. THE TELESCOPES Perfect Needle
23. THE VASELINES Jesus Don’t Want Me For A Sunbeam
A few weeks ago I wrote a list of the most under rated British bands of the 90s as nominated by some charming musicians, bloggers and chancers that I hang about with on social media sites. It got huge traffic, so, not wishing to change a winning formula, I asked the same group to come up with the most under rated bands of the 80s, and here’s the list.
Obviously the key here is defining the phrase ‘under rated’. There are some 80s bands; Felt, The Soft Boys and Gang Of Four spring to mind, who didn’t trouble the charts a great deal in their prime but thanks to being championed by more recent bands are now heralded as makers of some of the finest music of that decade. So we didn’t include them. I also added a few bands who were huge at the time, but these days never seem to be played on the radio or mentioned at all.
In a totally serendipitous way as I was putting the list together Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 Music decided to make the first two weeks of the year ‘lost 80s bands’ week, playing some completely forgotten tunes like Westworld’s Sonic Boom Boy. So Steve, how about playing a few of these?
Thanks then to everyone who added their twopennyworth.
And can someone please release the lost album recorded by the number one band. Ta. Any we have missed in the comments please. If you do your own list shout and I’ll post a link here too.
There’s a selection of tracks on the Spotify play list below
In the late 80s El Records' Mike Alway took a couple of young likely lasses from Southend, pitched them up with The King of Luxembourg and let them fly. The result, Bad Dream Fancy Dress's Choirboys Gas, is one of the few truly unique albums in pop history. The whole concept can be condensed down to the opener, The Supremes, where over a Motown-esque beat the girls share their dreams of fame and fortune before descending into a barrage of caterwauling and screaming. On this form they wouldn’t even have even got to sing a second line in an X-factor audition.
Even more astonishing is title track Choirboys Gas, a kind of mini psych pop opera complete with sitars, drastic chord and tempo changes, more off beat notes and lyrics that’s laden with more innuendo than a Carry On DVD boxed set And there’s Leigh on Sea (Y-Fronts and Antique shops), quite possibly the only ever paen to an Essex seaside town which is sugary sweet enough to make you want to decamp there for good. Best of all is the album’s bonafide pop classic, Curry Crazy, where over a belting guitar riff and Bontempi style organs our classy Essex chicks screech ‘we don’t want boys we want some spicy stuff!’
Forget death metal and banging techno, if you ever want to clear a room this is the album to play. Yet you can guarantee that there will always be one smart person in the room who’ll salute it as a work of unbridled genius. ‘One day, gentleman, they will be old bags,’ goes the visionary sleeve notes. ‘But not yet. For now the Bad Dream Fancy Dress girls are in their prime, raucous and high-pitched. How can they fail with Saturday night and Nestlé’s condensed milk?’ Indeed. You can hear quite how brilliant they were on Spotify.
The number one Christmas single! Once the preserve of Noddy, Roy and Shane and now a toss up between some TV karaoke dork and a Facebook inspired campaign to revive the career of an old metal band.
This is a terrible shame as the playlist below highlights quite how many great Christmas records there have been.
Adding to that list are some of the tracks from the new A Christmas Gift For You – Elefant Records’ compilation of yuletide goodies. What is great about this album is that it the label’s artists are all delivering brand new Christmas tunes. There’s no ironic covers of Mistletoe and Wine here!
In case the Spanish record label has passed you by, they combine both English and Spanish speaking band all of whom probably share a passion for Saint Etienne, Phil Spector’s Christmas album and Andy Williams’s TV festive specials.
The highlight here is provided by the recently reformed 80s power pop classicists The Primitives whose You Trashed My Christmas starts off like a indie thrash before the sleigh bells and harmonies kick in and its goes all Wizard! Magical stuff. The recent Primitives album has some very wonderful tunes on it too.
The album also sees the return of the Magic Theatre, a band whose London Town album of a few years ago was a time travelling affair in which a guy from the 60s ends up romancing a girl from the 1880s, all set to gorgeous strings and poppy melodies. Christmas Lights sounds like a refugee from that album with its gentle vocals, subtle strings and hummable chorus.
Other highlights include the Phil Spector-ish I Just Wanna Hold Your Hand On Christmas Day by The Yearning which sounds not unlike this magical mob and X-mas song by Edine Avec Mitnik Et Son Orchestre – which is a lovely duet sung in English.