Indie Top 20 Volume 11 (Beechwood Music, 1991)

Indie Top 20 Volume 11

Indie Top 20 Volume 11 r

Review
Indie Top 20 Volume 11 was released in early 1991. It was the last volume to be compiled by Chet & Bee and the final one to bear the classic paperclip logo which had first appeared on Indie Top 20 Volume 3 – War Of Independents. The CD version contains 17 tracks with three more on the double LP. These consist of cult heroes Rig – Moody (Live), the baffling Upholstered Eldorados – I Wanna Talk Like Iggy Pop and the pick of the bunch, Bleach’s searing classic Decadence. Taken from the Eclipse EP, on Way Cool Records. To get it on CD now, buy the immense box set Still In A Dream: A Story Of Shoegaze 1988-1995.

Each label and band have submitted sleeve note comments:
Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere: “Glorious, energetic, witty guys, who happen to write great tunes with terrific lyrics. Watch them explode in ’91.” (Jonathan King, The Sun)
My Jealous God – Pray: “Poignantly pretty, Pray is a blissful bitter-sweet trance dance, an effortless groove and supremely natural.” (Ian Gittins, Melody Maker)
The Bridewell Taxis – Spirit: “…is Leeds’ Bridewell Taxis third single from 1990, out on their own Stolen label, an album is scheduled for release soon!”
New Fast Automatic Daffodils – Fishes Eyes: “When is a Manchester band not a Manchester band? When their name is New Fast Automatic Daffodils! Hard-boiled dub funksters with a surrealist edge (ooer) on true unpigeonhole-able form.” (Good Times Magazine)
Flowered Up – Phobia: “Apples and pairs, but where’s the stairs? What’s yours!”

The Honey Smugglers – Listen: “A bad trip burnout, it’s an acid splash that justifies the existence of the southeast. Like swimming in treacle.”
Cud – Magic: “Here we find the original recording of Magic from Cud’s acclaimed second LP Leggy Mambo. Stockport and Farsley reworkings of this track, care of Messrs. Creffield, Nagle and Nagle are featured on their current 45 release.”
Moonflowers – Get Higher: “We dig your earth.”

The Charlatans – Then: “Excellent follow-up to their hit earlier in the year. Outstanding, a massive hit that should establish Northwich’s finest as a major band.”
Teenage Fanclub – God Knows It’s True: “Jack Black – it’s good for singing, guitaring, and playing the drums.” (Don Flemming)
Pale Saints – Half-Life Remembered: “Gustav Holst is the horse’s mouth in whose saliva we take our baths.”
Welfare Heroine – Cry-Blood (Dub): “It’s hopelessly sad, hopelessly lonely, probing, while always attempting optimism… but already I can feel tears pricking my eyelids, more of an emotion than a song.”
The Shamen – Oxygen Restriction: “A sub bass collision with techno pop minimalism… but Teutonic it ain’t.”

Front 242 – Tragedy >For You<: “Front 242 -Satisfying feelings and imagination, superseding the unity of body and mind. The single ‘Tragedy >For YouFor You<."
Boo Radleys – Kaleidoscope: “In fact Kaleidoscope, Aldous and Swansong are as crucial as anything made in the name of noise and beauty over the last two years.” (Paul Lester, Melody Maker)
Buffalo Tom – Birdbrain: “…smears your ears and leaves your nose runny. A big cacophony with a buried melody and bountiful beat – delightful!” (Liz Evans, Raw)
Pixies – Dig For Fire: “Remixed from the LP Bossanova.”

You can experience the My Jealous God, Flowered Up and Charlatans tracks in a different way on German compilation Rave I which also came out in 1991. Let’s (not) have a drink to start – it’s the band who ended the last volume – Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – with the sobering Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere. Next comes the baggy Pray from My Jealous God. Three singles and no album; wicked guitars and snotty vocal delivery. The pace quickens with The Bridewell Taxis’ soulful Spirit – described by Martin Furlong as “brilliant!” in The Tea Rooms one Saturday afternoon. The trombone chorus is a real blast. Fitting the vibe are the New Fast Automatic Daffodils and the loping post-punk shuffle of Fishes Eyes, a type of flared aquatic funk. Concluding the first side are Flowered Up with the weird shuffle of Phobia which sat on the wall of Waterford’s Blitz Records for weeks before I eventually bought it. No incorrect demo this time. You can read a little bit more about Blitz (there’s scant other info online) in my review of Essential Hardcore.

The dying embers of baggy are epitomised in the next three tracks. The Honey Smugglers’ Listen is a wondrous trip, a massive bassline and buried organ. Genius moves: “Where would we be now, if we came from Manchester town?” once asked Cud. They’re next with the seductively slinky Magic. Meanwhile on the Heavenly label are The Moonflowers with the hypnotic Get Higher (cut down from its original 10 minute length). Their subsequent compilation album was called Hash Smits so obviously there’s a South African connection somewhere. Riding the crusty wave for a brief period with remixes by Rocky & Diesel. Rollin Matt remembers those glorious days through the following haze: “A stomping track that builds up right throughout. I have fond memories of rocking away to it in a Vauxhall Astra, parked up where we shouldn’t be, doing what we shouldn’t have been! One of the earliest crossover tracks between indie / house. It takes you on a journey, class effort.”

The Charlatans kick off the second half with single number 3, the curious slowburning Then. The 12″ was mispressed with Taurus Moaner on both sides – like the second Bleach EP (the one with Dipping). Back then such mistakes were rare, nowadays every second reissue or box set is plagued with errors. Next we get treated to the beautiful noise of Teenage Fanclub and their crucial non-album 45 God Knows It’s True. First heard at the Back of The Mansion, early 1991. Indie disco, Thursday night. Asked the DJ to sell me the 12″ but he said no. Shamefully excluded from their career retrospective Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty-Six Seconds – A Short Cut To Teenage Fanclub. Not including the full album version of The Concept would have helped. And even better is Half-Life Remembered, lead track on the new EP from the Pale Saints and their first recording to feature former Lush vocalist Meriel Barham. Melodic shoegaze with a definite psych edge; Half-Life emerged at the end of the year and partially bridged the long gap between The Comforts Of Madness and In Ribbons. Also featured on the 12″ was Two Sick Sisters, their opening number at Dublin’s National Stadium on 1 October 1990. Supporting the Pixies on the Bossanova tour; ticket and bus from Waterford cost £10. Lift home from George G.

Dele Fadele (of NME), Ian Jones and Dave Egan were Welfare Heroine. Cry Blood is a real oddity, a whacked-out excursion into dubby chanting not unlike Enigma. It’s followed by The Shamen – making their ninth successive appearance – with the futuristic album track Oxygen Restriction (a longer mix than on En-Tact). This leads into the terrifying industrial sound of Front 242’s Tragedy For You, a most jolly tune that mentions disemboweling complete with a surreal video featuring shop trolleys, a Hertha Berlin and bananas. Back to noise for the closing triple play as the youthful Boo Radleys arrive with the monstrous Kaleidoscope, a beast from Ichabod & I, noisy guitars hiding a gorgeous melody. Then Buffalo Tom who I’d shortly see supporting The Wedding Present at the SFX on 15 May 1991. Craziest moshing ever. Birdbrain sees them at their most raw, a grunge anthem.

“Summer’s almost gone but a lot goes on forever.”
Finally we end with a classic and my favourite ever Pixies tune, the single mix of Dig For Fire. Real comfort food and so evocative of both that time and my early years. “No my child, this is not my desire.” Most memorable is the audio visual combination at 2:16 when all of the motorcycles ride off and fade out in sunset during Joey’s minor guitar solo. Back in late 1991 I made a wonderful alternative album of the band from those glory days which I called Are You Looking For The Motherlode? Just 32 minutes, it’s a track list of two halves, naturally beginning with a fierce instrumental and then all cover versions for the remainder of the first side. Followed by homegrown tunes – all kinds of everything:

Letter To Memphis (Instrumental)
Born In Chicago
I’ve Been Waiting For You
Winterlong
I Can’t Forget
Evil Hearted You
*************
Theme From NARC
Make Believe
Velvety Instrumental Version
Build High
Santo
The Thing
Dig For Fire (Single Version)

Pixies

Favourite tracks
Pixies – Dig For Fire

Pale Saints – Half-Life Remembered

Lest we forget
Flowered Up – Phobia

Advertisements
Posted in Indie Top 20 | Leave a comment

Red Hot Metal (Dover, 1991)

Red Hot Metal

Red Hot Metal r

Review
The fourth and final volume in the Soft Metal series involved a label change – from Stylus Music to Dover. Television advertising continued and the front cover was gold lettering on a red velvet background. “18 Rock Classics” and the lucky featuring artists were Queen, David Lee Roth, Ozzy Osbourne, Quireboys, Poison, Alannah Myles, Pat Benatar.

Pomp and circumstance are to the fore on the opening track, Queen’s Breakthru. It’s taken many years for me to appreciate its searing energy. Next comes David Lee Roth’s Just Like Paradise, an apt tune for the end of summer with its memorable rock climbing video. And for Gary Moore, his imperial era was the Wild Frontier phase, the politically-charged title track still burning fiercely. “. . . before the soldiers came.” Now for Magnum’s reflective Days Of No Trust – “revolution is here” – a fond memory from Cheers pub in Charles Street. Next comes Ozzy, returning to kill the light, on the edgy Bark At The Moon. Heidi Kara misses the days of “Spandex, Aqua Net, big hair, power ballads, MTV . . . when music was actually fun.” A sentiment that works perfectly on Slaughter’s rolling Up All Night, a rocking anthem that’s the ideal tonic to start off a weekend of fun times.

There’s definitely a wider net cast by the compilers on this set. While there are a few familiar tracks (Poison – Your Mama Don’t Dance, Alannah Myles – Black Velvet), the presence of Winger’s Miles Away is most welcome, an epic yet almost morose hair metal ballad. It was also the era when the likes of The Quireboys and Thunder featured on a couple of Now albums. In this instance, both are here but with different songs. The former’s There She Goes Again is a non-nonsense heads-down rocker while Thunder works wonder on Gimme Some Lovin’, a storming take on the Spencer Davis Band classic. To the land of Oz and 1927. That’s When I Think Of You is a driving rock tune that’s ideal for a road trip. File under well kept secret. If you dig, check out my mix On The Riot Trail.

Elsewhere we get Pat Benatar and All Fired Up, nominated for a Grammy and the lead single from Wide Awake in Dreamland. It rocks much harder than her earlier work and is now seen as a perfect pick me up tune. Another cover is WASP’s I Don’t Need No Doctor, a competent reworking of the Ashford & Simpson number. And then Black Sabbath’s Devil And Daughter which saw Cozy Powell join the band. Conceptually, the song’s lyrics have predominantly occult and Satanic elements. It’s followed by the textbook power ballad sound of Vixen and Love Is A Killer, possibly one of the finest examples of the genre. Beauty and rage, the other side of 1990. In contrast, we go thrash with Anthrax and their version of Joe Jackson’s Got The Time. Not the Hot Press journalist. Taken from the too-long-for-one-LP Persistence Of Time. Curiously we end with an album track, Judas Priest’s predatory Night Crawler. Rob Halford’s finale. “You know he’s coming back.”

Favourite tracks
Gary Moore – Wild Frontier

Vixen – Love Is A Killer

Lest we forget
Magnum – Days Of No Trust

Posted in Soft Metal | Leave a comment

Indie Top 20 Volume 10 (Beechwood Music, 1990)

Indie Top 20 V10

Indie Top 20 V10 r

Review
The first five songs on Indie Top 20 Volume 10 consist of my favourite sequence in the whole series. I was 18 when this came out and fully enjoying life just before it got that little bit too serious. The music was and is key – and the entire quintet were heavily caned at home that winter. The CD version contains 17 tracks with three more on the double LP. They are Spiritualized – Anyway That You Want Me, Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes – Grand Hotel, The Telescopes – Precious Little. Jason Pierce’s new vehicle debut is sadly missed but obtainable on 2006’s wonderful Like A Daydream: A Shoegazing Guide.

With one exception, each label and band have submitted sleeve note comments:
The Farm – Groovy Train (Terry Farley Mix): “Forget the music. These boys have got the most practical clothes I’ve ever seen. (Harry Cross)”
The Shamen – Make It Mine: “Continually slotted in the same genre as The Happy Mondays, The Beloved, The Stone Roses and other indie-dance crossovers – The Shamen, like they did with Pro-Gen, take it one step further with Make It Mine.”
Paris Angels – All On You (Perfume): No sleeve notes provided.
The KLF – What Time Is Love (Echo & The Bunnymen Mix): “The KLF first released the original version of this track in November 1988 when it was virtually ignored. In March 1990 they played three dates with the new look Echo & The Bunnymen after which The Bunnymen went into the studio to rework the track for posterity.”
Renegade Soundwave – Biting My Nails (Bassnumb Chapter): “A pulse-quickener of a beat, weird dub particles and stray radiation waves from dying satellites, all collide in an effect like a sharp intake of crystal meth.”

Flowered Up – It’s On: “Beds not boxes – don’t forget kids, conservation is survival.”
The Field Mice – Triangle (Edit): “Full length version appears on the Skywriting mini-LP (Sarah 601).”
Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart: “A Neil Young song lovingly reconstructed by two ardent fans from suburban London. Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs claim to gain inspiration from ‘Elvis Presley, our loving parents, and drugs’. They are currently working on an album provisionally titled Foxbase Alpha which is due in the New Year.”
Mock Turtles – Lay Me Down: “The Mock Turtles are the best pop group in Britain. (John Harris – Sounds 4/8/90)”
Sp!n – Scratches In The Sand: “A psychedelic cocktail of the sublime, beautiful, angry and sad, Sp!n, as the name suggests, create a deliriously exhilarating sound in hypnotic motion. They have been described as shameless pirates and freeloaders, ‘purveyors of bliss-orientated pop’ (Dave Simpson, Melody Maker) and of ‘playing wildly electric, mesmerising pop that brooks no boundaries.’ (Stuart Maconie, NME)”

Inspiral Carpets – She Comes In The Fall: “This is moody and miraculous with a lovely walking on air melody, but then the organ farts in again and firmly stops them becoming stellar.”
The Charlatans – The Only One I Know: “The Only One I Know, a track blessed with wah-wah guitar and a hammond organ swirling around a pure hypnotic groove. (Sounds)”
The Darkside – Waiting For The Angels: “An irresistable, ethereal psychedelic pop song from the darkside, a trio from the centre of England.”
The Family Cat – A Place With A Name: “The Family Cat present, for your delectation and delight, their second single of 1990. So crank up the gramophone, roll back the carpet and get down to A Place With A Name.”

Pixies – Velouria: “..is taken from Pixies fourth LP Bossanova.”
Teenage Fanclub – Everything Flows: “Teenage Fanclub are going to be as big as The Ronettes hairdos, the Beaverbrook Foundation and Van Gogh’s sunflowers.”
Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Rent: “I’ve been waiting half of the twentieth century for my housing benefit so that I can pay my rent, I am pissed off. (Fruitbat)
I like the Pet Shop Boys and I’m more than happy to make them a little bit of cash to help them out, stuff the Poll Tax. (Jim Bob)”

Indie Top 20 Volume 10 was a late October purchase. It had a direct rival – Telstar’s Rave which had three common tracks – Groovy Train, What Time Is Love? & Make It Mine – all featured on side 1 of the Beechwood Music LP. “Baggy jeans and long blonde hair”: The Farm magnum opus is all about the moment. You had to be there. Coming at the end of a pretty euphoric summer, Groovy Train reached #6 in the UK charts. The video was filmed at Pleasureland Southport and features a cameo from actor Bill Dean AKA Brookside’s Harry Cross – the train driver. Picnicl’s memory is crucial: “Such a beautiful tease of a song. It takes over half the song before the first chorus. All carried by perfect pop instrumentation, crunchy sounds, and great vocal complements. Groovy Train should be shown by the NHS to depressed people -this is what fun feels like on a daft sunny day. Try to have that more often.” Good vibes and carefree attitudes. I bought the 12″ single in KG Discs on Tuesday 21 August 1990. And 29 years to the day, I now write this review.

“This is the voice of the mysterons”: Making their eighth successive appearance on an Indie Top 20 album, The Shamen’s Make It Mine is a killer tune with a blazing guitar riff. Next, jangle meets disco via ecstasy – Perfume, the Paris Angels’ peak. Although according to Damon Wilkinson of Manchester Evening News, the group combined their love of acid house, post-punk and the Velvet Underground to “create their own unique take on baggy.” Subsequently Loved Up and All On You became the more well known versions but the original mix is my favourite. Simply titled Perfume and the first track on the Sheer Joy CD single. NME Single Of The Week, 21 June 1990. The whoosh of the synths are unforgettably evocative of the era while the video shows just how the fun the band are having. See Indie Top Video. The second track on the single, All On You (Perfume) is what’s here. Over to Jayne Gill: “Perfume was a Scott and Wags melody with Si’s drums we all added our bits on top. The original Perfume was an indie guitar version, with the remix from Suite 16 recorded and produced by Michael Johnson that really put the stamp on the tune with the dance influence. Remember recording it as the original jangly guitars then when I was sitting down stairs in the studio watching the Gulf war evolve on the news, one of the band turned on the speakers in the TV area from the mixing studio and straight away I got shivers down my neck. I heard the pulsating beat with Wag’s guitar being mixed this was the first time I heard the indie dance version.” More.

Sounds like Will Sergeant on guitar…..The KLF’s What Time Is Love gets a makeover in a late 60s almost psychedelic style. “Say the magic word….Harley Davidson.” Purely moody. What’s never mentioned anywhere, is that the main melody line of the track was lifted from the Overture of the Jesus Christ Superstar movie soundtrack. Bill Drummond on the name: “Jimmy Cauty and I went down to Heaven one Monday night and it was my first time taking E after a while. Nothing seemed to be happening so i turned to Jimmy and said What Time Is Love? (as in when is this gonna kick in) and within a few moments of saying those words my legs felt warm and my hands went clammy.” Meanwhile Renegade Soundwave’s Biting My Nails had been released as long ago as 1988; now in 1990 we got enhanced Club Mixes. The main one, titled Bassnumb Chapter closes the first quarter; all sleazy funk with extremely heavy bass & riffs a plenty. Dark trip.

“Whatever you do, just make sure what you’re doing makes you happy.”
Memories: That NME front cover, 14 July 1990 – “Full Petal Jacket: The Unnatural Growth Of Flowered Up.” The Chart Show appearance of It’s On with the messed-up audio. Getting signed to London Records for a million. The uptempo Egg Rush, the downbeat Phobia. A Life With Brian on repeat. The full tale is here. Weekender was the pinnacle: a 48 hour party people election broadcast. Bookended by Quadrophenia samples, rave as mod. RIP Liam and Joe. Tom Ewing said it best: “Weekender is an aggressive, unique record, a record that doesn’t want to be made sense of, a surly epic existing to tell you just that no matter what you’ll read about 1992 in some future pop textbook, it wasn’t like that, wasn’t nearly so neat.” Back to It’s On: the demo version is erroneously included here. I didn’t realise it at the time, only revealed afterwards.

1990’s Skywriting is the Field Mice’s most controversial release. Side 1 just has the lengthy Triangle. New Order-ish, all sequencers and electronics. A real trippy vibe. I like a lot – here the 8:55 mix is cut down to 6:06 and would also feature on career round-up Where’d You Learn To Kiss That Way. Side 2 of the mini-LP consists of five eclectic numbers, the highlights being Canada and Humblebee. Next comes the devastatingly brilliant Only Love Can Break Your Heart; Saint Etienne had arrived. Keyboards, super vocals and a banging bassline all combined into something way greater than the sum of its parts. At that juncture, they had no fixed vocalist. It was pre-Sarah Cracknell so Moira Lambert sang her heart out. An incredible anthem that really captures the era. And listening to it now is like burrowing deep into the past. The song has an ethereal feel, despite the dance vibe. “I can’t watch this video too often, it makes you pine for the 90s once again. The world is a far more confusing place now, and that only seems to increase with time.” (Thomas W)

A box set of the Madchester scene from the likes of Rhino would be nice (assuming they could licence the tunes – they already did a Brit Pop one) or Cherry Red. While I did enjoy some of the grunge records of the time, I couldn’t stand the negativity and rockist nature that came with it. As I turned 18 that year, there was a sense that gigs etc were now part of life rather than a special treat or something you had to work on your parents to allow you go. I had just moved out of home so there was that sense of freedom. Lay Me Down by The Mock Turtles is one that reminds me of flatland and staying over. Not having to worry about lifts or buses. The sound washes over us like the feel of new psychedelia from the baby decade. Can You Dig It was the B-side and you know what happened afterwards. By way of note, their 1991 LP Two Sides was bought and sold back to Freebird Records on day of release. A second hand LP for £4.50 around 4.00pm on that Monday afternoon.

Sp!n was Steve Mason and Matt James’ original band before Gene. Matt, John Mason, AKA Steve Mason’s brother, and Lee Clarke met studying at Thames Polytechnic. In Motion was their one and only LP and there were three 45s. Scratches (In The Sand) has never been compiled elsewhere. A long forgotten slice of hard-edged baggy with a dazed twist. It’s followed by the Inspiral Carpets and the rather busy single version of She Comes In The Fall; purchased during the World Cup festivities. Like many people, I first heard the track on their 1989 Peel session whereupon it subsequently made #50 in the Festive 50 for that year. Directing Traffic was #49. Unusually for me, I actually prefer the Life album mix but there’s very little in it. Certainly when I heard it in the Bridge Hotel that July, it was pretty euphoric. Next come The Charlatans and their storming, soaring albatross – The Only One I Know. Unkindly referred to as The Only Song I Know by hipsters. “Man, this takes me back, stoned off my face most days, good music, good times. happy days.”

For the remaining five tunes, something changes. The Darkside’s Waiting For The Angels is an introspective and meandering number, courtesy of a few ex-Spacemen 3 members. Cunningly followed by Spiritualized on the vinyl but on the CD, the perky and enthusiastic Place With A Name by The Family Cat. And then the long-awaited new song from the Pixies: the majestic Velouria. Bossanova remains their highpoint for me, the greatest side ever (A). Love the slo-mo video too. More: Teenage Fanclub’s stupendously great debut 45 Everything Flows which blows me away every time. Like Big Star meeting MBV, a wonderful (slow) wall of sound that again, makes me weep for long-ago people and times. I saw them support Sonic Youth on 2 September 1990. They’d never scale those heights again. For a grand finale, we get a B-Side. And a cover version at that – Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine’s unique take on the Pet Shop Boys’ Rent which was the flipside of Rubbish, released June 1990. It’s a very clever re-working – especially the line that goes “Took me to a restaurant, Fulham Broadway, to tell me who you are.” Genius.

Favourite tracks
Saint Etienne – Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Teenage Fanclub – Everything Flows

Lest we forget
Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Rent

Posted in Indie Top 20 | Leave a comment