Looking back: the sequel. The second round-up of the Indie Top 20 series was fraught with tension, completed just before the Rough Trade collapse. In the shop window, a collage of sleeves & logos with the following chosen ones – Happy Mondays, The Charlatans, The Farm, Inspiral Carpets, Carter USM, The Soup Dragons, The Beloved, New Order, Depeche Mode, Pixies, The Shamen, Spacemen 3, The Sundays. The inlay speaks:
“The Best of Indie Top 20 is a celebration of the rise and rise of independent music over the last three years. Many of the singles chosen are the bands’ first important cross-over hits. Music that is so often described as specialist or provocative, but soon proves to become the mainstream taste; establishing new styles and genres.
First released in ’87, The Indie Top 20 series has also gone from strength to strength, released 3 times a year as the definitive guide to independent music on double LP, cassette, CD and video.
Beechwood music is fiercely proud of its independence and by making these albums available and generating much needed funds for all the bands and record labels concerned, we hope that we are helping independent music to continue its growth through the nineties.”
While the double LP also gives us three extra songs in the form of Front 242’s Headhunter, Birdland’s Sleep With Me & Loop’s Arc-lite, The Best Of Indie Top 20 CD contains a total of 19 tracks, 18 of which have already been discussed in the following reviews:
Indie Top 20 Volume 2: The Beloved – Forever Dancing. Also on Indie Top 20 CD88.
Indie Top 20 Volume 3 – War Of Independents: Happy Mondays – 24 Hour Party People.
Indie Top 20 Volume 6 – Pride Of Independents: Spacemen 3 – Revolution, The Wedding Present – Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?*.
Indie Top 20 Volume 7: Inspiral Carpets – Joe, Pixies – Monkey Gone To Heaven, Dinosaur Jr. – Freak Scene.
Indie Top 20 Volume 8: Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus, The Sugarcubes – Regina.
Indie Top 20 Volume 9: The Farm – Stepping Stone, The Charlatans – Indian Rope, Soup Dragons – Mother Universe, New Order – Round & Round (Club Mix), The Shamen – Pro>Gen, The Sundays – Joy, The Heart Throbs – Dreamtime.
Indie Top 20 Volume 10: Paris Angels – All On You (Perfume), Flowered Up – It’s On**.
A note on *: The Wedding Present’s Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now? was their final release for Reception Records. The version previously included on Indie Top 20 was the French language mix credited to Cadeau De Mariage and titled Pourquoi Es Tu Devenue Si Raisonable? We now get the more common English language take, a rather defensive entry in their catalogue as Gedge – unusually – is not being jilted or cheated upon. At the time, I considered it their weakest single to date.
A note on **: Flowered Up’s It’s On was released to much fanfare at the beginning of summer 1990. When it was gathered up for the tenth volume of Indie Top 20, a demo version was supplied. This error is now corrected and the correct 7″ edit is included. Watch out for the book coming about the band – see here.
There is one new track here, Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine’s Bloodsport For All. The full length version that appeared on the 12″ / CD single – 5:04 – is here. The shorter 7″ mix (as included on the official video) would have been preferable. Anyway it’s a stormer, a caustic glammed-up rock monster about military life and the bullying therein. Nowadays it’s remembered as a Gulf War-era tune, and one that fell foul of cautious radio programmers. That’s another playlist or themed mix concept that I might explore in the future. A worthy taster for 30 Something, Carter’s finest hour, an album of epic singalongs and bittersweet comedowns. I was browsing in my local record shop shortly after its release when I saw a guy I knew from school – Alan – come in and nod at the owner. He nodded back, put his hand under the counter and lifted out a vinyl copy of the new Carter LP, slipping into a Bridge Records bag. Now that’s what they call a special order.
Alan went on to play bass in Brawl, a hardcore punk band formed in New Ross during 1992. Around the same time, the members formed a collective – One Two Ten Promotions – and started to bring similar bands from Ireland, United Kingdom and Europe to play in the back of a pub called Galavan’s. Usually, these bands played Dublin, Cork, Belfast before stopping off at New Ross. This glorious period ran from 1992 to 1996 and the roll call of entertainment was seriously impressive: Herb Garden, Headcleaner, Decadence Within, Dawson, Citizen Fish, AOS3, Long Fin Killie, Dirt, Gout, Flexihead, Arnheim, Bleeding Rectum. Brawl invariably played as well and their set gradually grew stronger with killer original material like Washing & Cleaning, Hatred, Everything and Give Me Hope. The band released an eight song cassette in 1993 titled Barney – a dog with a burst football on the cover – and then an LP Gulag (1995) and finally the Thalidomide CD. The launch for the latter was in Charlie’s bar, Dublin, Saturday 17 August 1996.
I saw Therapy? at the SFX just before Christmas 1992. They gave away a free 7″ called Have A Merry Fucking Christmas featuring covers of With Or Without You and Teenage Kicks. Support were Silverfish who toured Ireland in their own right during August 1993. Brawl supported and I went to Sir Henry’s in Cork to see them. As the months flew by, Galavan’s became the place to go every Friday and Saturday night. We’d spend the early evening skulling cans of Steiger at our Ard Na Greine hangout before hitting the pub around 9.30pm. If there was no gig then we’d stay in the bar, feeding the jukebox which moved to Ma Byrne’s when Galavan’s finally closed. Its prime compact disc was Loaded. For the gigs you went out back – it was a massive cave, built on the side of a sheer urban cliff which originally was visible from the CBS primary school yard (1979-1984). There was a heater, a pool table and when the place was packed, you could see the sweat glisten on the rocks. Citizen Fish, June 1993 was the most rammed. c.150 people losing it to Charity.
For many of the bands who played Galavan’s, selling merchandise was crucial. The was best served by a distro which sprung up early on and was run by a guy called Stephen. He had a fine collection of t-shirts, zines, 7″s, LPs, CDs and cassettes. I was one of his best customers, usually picking up something after each gig. The Citizen Fish and AOS3 split 7″ – TV Dinner / Conspiracy is a marvelous memento and snapshot of those times while the evocative Dutch compilation LP The Dignity Of Human Being Is Vulnerable with its stunning colour booklet containing addresses for peace movements on former Yugoslavia brings me back to my idealistic youth. Sadly nothing lasts forever and by 1997, the pace of gigs slowed down, people moved on with their lives and the pub subsequently closed down shortly afterwards. It still stands on North Street, an enduring reminder of glorious youth.
The Heart Throbs – Dreamtime
The Sundays – Joy
Lest we forget
Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Bloodsport For All