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
I Can’t Forget
Evil Hearted You
Theme From NARC
Velvety Instrumental Version
Dig For Fire (Single Version)
Pixies – Dig For Fire
Pale Saints – Half-Life Remembered
Lest we forget
Flowered Up – Phobia