A highlight of my fuzzy medium wave for a brief period in the mid-1980s, BBC Radio 1’s Evening Show was another beacon into an ever-growing indie world. A parallel to the John Peel Show, its presenters included David Jensen, Richard Skinner, Mike Read, Janice Long, Liz Kershaw and Simon Mayo. The programme was produced by Mike Hawkes & Phil Ross and broadcast in mono. This compilation was released on the Nighttracks label with a special thanks mention for Bee & Chet (Selwood), AKA the Indie Top 20 team.
“This unique compilation reflects some of the shifts and changes of the past decade which like the music was sometimes brutal, occasionally majestic and usually hopeful. It is a tribute to a turbulent British music scene that continues to produce world class talent and to a national radio network which alone in the world is in some measure at least sometimes prepared to offer that talent both a platform and an audience.”
(Attributed to CS – presumably Clive Selwood, founder of the Strange Fruit label)
In 1988 one of my most sought-after 12″ singles was The Wedding Present Nighttracks EP. I could not find a copy – sporadic trips to Dublin were met with “can’t get it” (Freebird) and “sorry – long gone” (Comet). Meanwhile the Virgin Megastore had a listing for it on the plastic divider that showed it being re-stocked on a number of occasions and then selling out. The session itself was quite old with the original broadcast dating from 15 May 1986 – exactly five years later, they played the SFX on the Seamonsters tour. Therefore I was delighted to see the rather primitive take on Everyone Thinks He Daft included here, one of the three tinny blasts that would eventually appear on George Best. The fourth track was a storming cover of Gang Of Four’s I Found That Essence Rare. Plus ca change. In a somewhat related note, 1993 would see the release of In Session Tonight, a strictly limited edition of unique studio recordings made exclusively for John Peel’s shows. It was only available with the BBC book of the same title. And now I can’t locate my copy.
The CD starts in early 1982. Recorded on 24 January and broadcast 11 February, it’s The Stranglers with The Man They Love To Hate. Top atmospheric production. Now that’s what I call percussion: it’s the Icicle Works with the enigmatic (Birds Fly) Whisper To A Scream. A stunning debut single, one of the pop highlights of that era, forever preserved on an AGFA 60+6 handed to me in the old Good Counsel College just before we finished first year in June 1985. Next see Danielle Dax utter the immortal phrase “walking sick sick they walkin’ through town” on her early masterpiece Pariah. We move forward to May 1986 with The Godfathers and the relentless rifftastic If I Only Had Time which is then coupled with The Leather Nun’s crunchy Pure Heart. Breaking up this solid furrow are The Men They Couldn’t Hang with the charming almost Mekon twang of Dancing On The Pier.
“Taped this as a 15 year old fan when it was originally broadcast…lost the tape long ago… must have worn that tape out with countless plays…misremembered it being a Peel session…but the JL stuff is what I had, amongst others….thanks for uploading. Seem to remember my little tinny ghetto blaster struggling with the frequencies…brings it all back…thanks Tim and Cardiacs…still blasting your sounds out 30 years later,sound even better…” (Memeophobe)
The Cardiacs’ Is This The Life: as good as it was on Indie Top 20 Volume 4 Part 1 – State Of Independents. A different vibe, but equally intoxicating. Followed by Blue Aeroplanes – it was still the John Stapleton era (scratches, tape) – and a cool tune called Coats.
They would later became Sunsonic but for now, The Flowerpot Men’s 1987 session for Janice Long was an energetic, quick and dirty slice of Prisoners-styled electro. Elsewhere it’s jingle jangle time with the Close Lobsters on the epic indie thriller Never Seen Before. Keep playing to get hooked. A highlight before a rather disappointing closing sequence. Firstly, there’s a grubby grebo shift then with both Crazyhead and the Gaye Bykers on Acid getting into the groove on Baby Turpentine and Don’t Be Human Eric – Let’s Be Frank. Last orders go to Voice Of The Beehive and their less than chirpy No Green Blues. “An energy and spontaneity rarely matched elsewhere.” There was no Volume 2.
Danielle Dax – Pariah
The Stranglers – The Man They Love To Hate
Lest we forget
Close Lobsters – Never Seen Before