Go backwards into paradise: I first heard Simone on the US 12″ of I Wanna Be Adored, released 1989 and available as an import from Eastern Bloc Records, Manchester. Cost GBP £5.49 at the time. It also appeared on the cassette single of She Bangs The Drums. The stunning opening track on the first Stone Roses album finally got a proper single release in September 1991 and the 7″ edit kicks off the Indie Top 20
Volume Issue 13. This was the first one since Indie Top 20 Volume 7 to include 20 songs on the CD pressing as well as on the vinyl – thanks to the thoughtful use of single edits where appropriate.
The shorter version of I Wanna Be Adored loses the atmospheric opening and gets straight down to business. I like its immediacy; in 1989 it was the first track on the aforementioned US 12″ which also included the album mix along with Going Down (lifted from the Made Of Stone single) as well as Simone. In 1991, the single appeared on 7″, 12″ and CD; but the 7″ mix does not feature on the 12″. The real draw was the beautifully funereal Where Angels Play along with a live take on Sally Cinnamon. In the absence of new material, this would be as good as it got. Silvertone would continue to milk the album in early 1992 with Waterfall emerging on 45 in January while I Am The Resurrection came in March. + Fools Gold remixes, Turns Into Stone…“Take a look around, there’s something happening.”
For the second track, we get another 7″ edit – Teenage Fanclub’s Star Sign, a masterclass in indie rock – like J Mascis meeting Roger McGuinn. I remember the liner notes to the 2009 Big Star box set Keep An Eye On The Sky saying that Bandwagonesque was “… an album so in thrall to Chilton, Bell, and company that some critics had taken to calling it Big Star’s 4th.” A hugely entertaining cover of Madonna’s Like A Virgin had appeared on The Fannies’ primarily instrumental opus The King (released August ’91 and deleted on the same day) and also got included on the Star Sign 12″ and CD. An overload of three part harmonies. Next come Revolver and their epic debut Heaven Sent An Angel, most fondly remembered from MTV’s 120 Minutes before a very mesmerising Chapterhouse AA-Side, Precious One. Deep in shoegaze we go with Slowdive’s third single Catch The Breeze, lead track on the Holding Our Breath 12″ EP but released as a 7″ single in its own right. An euphoric and swirling sugerblast that sucks you in and won’t let go. Just For A Day.
Floppy fringe, hair in eyes, sleeves pulled over the hands, a lack of interest in sport. We stay resolutely fey with Shallow from Catherine Wheel which in turn leads to the superior Flying, courtesy of The Telescopes. John Hollingsworth recalls the video: “Douglas Hart directed this, paper plates on fishing wire, hung over black drapes, was how the big dots were created, edited on low band umatic with color cranked to max levels. Think we shot it on 16mm but could have just been video. Edit would not be allowed now with all those flash frames.” Equally taut are Moose on the intriguing Suzanne (another 120 Minutes favourite) which waits until the climax to explode into greatness. The short sharp shocks continue with Spiritualized’s rather workmanlike Run, one of the more “normal” numbers on the superb Lazer Guided Melodies. And then, perennial support slot heroes – Midway Still – with the grungy I Won’t Try. Back in March 1992, I saw them open for Mega City Four at McGonagles. They ended with You Made Me Realise and we parted company.
Trompe Le Monde was the Pixies’ swansong although we didn’t know it at the time. As I pointed out in my review of Indie Top 20 Volume 11, Bossanova is my favourite album of theirs with its first side, the greatest ever. In June 1991, the band made a second visit to Dublin – this time around saw a much larger venue, the Point Depot. Support came from Chimera and Power Of Dreams and they opened with Rock Music. Trompe Le Monde LP arrived in September with Planet Of Sound being an abrasive and bass-heavy trailing single. Dig that cult hero Sergeant Getraer from CHiPs getting namechecked. The album rankings: Bossanova – Surfer Rosa – Trompe Le Monde – Doolittle – Come On Pilgrim. Once again, the opening half is a rush with a frantic title track, the stupendous Alec Eiffel, the manic Sad Punk and glorious 1-2 Palace Of The Brine and Letter To Memphis. Plus a slamming cover of the Jesus & Mary Chain’s Head On. The gorgeous Bird Dream Of Olympus Mons kicks off the more subdued side 2 which contains the momentous epic Motorway To Roswell which really should have been in the final episode of The X-Files.
And now for the lull. Spitfire’s Superbaby remains a sludge slog while the angry Babes In Toyland have really lost their lustre now. I saw them play in the Fox & Pheasant that July; a most enjoyable night put on by Hope Promotions. Handsome & Gretel is a one-trick pony; by the time of the release of the Fontanelle LP, I had moved on. I wasn’t a fan of Smashing Pumpkins to begin with and the hipster kids in UCD Arts gushing about Gish didn’t convince me either. Siva remains a bluesy behemoth that’s as subtle as a hammer. They would go onto better things – particularly with the sprawling Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness, a key late night listen in Dublin’s flatland of the mid-90s. And Rotten Apples is a brilliant Best Of. Meanwhile the Pooh Sticks moved from C86 strummers to ironic power pop and remained resolutely unlikeable. Young People, I hate you.
The Pale Saints make a welcome appearance with the atmospheric instrumental Porpoise, the second track on their Flesh Balloon LP. Check out A Thousand Stars Burst Open (a free 7″ with In Ribbons or compiled on 4AD’s Lilliput). Next, the fledging Dodgy’s pleasant retro splash of Summer Fayre. Moving on, the rather pretentious-sounding Pierre Étoile which was just Galaxie 500’s Damon and Naomi. In The Sun is very low-key, mournful and rather dull. Things perk up with No-Man’s Mahler – or Days In The Trees as it was known back then. A four track EP with the different versions all named after classical composers. The combination of violin and dance beats works really well; a wonderfully ambient number. Steven Wilson would later found Porcupine Tree and become a sought-after producer. Finally – and kind of in the same vein – is Cath Carroll’s Moves Like You. Atmospheric, understated but doesn’t quite hit the mark. Hearing it now brings back memories of Manchester, summer 1991. The track would later feature on Factory Records’ celebratory box set Palatine, briefly discussed on Martin. Make sure not to confuse it with the dreadful Unrest and their pointless song Cath Carroll. In summary: transitional.
Teenage Fanclub – Star Sign
Slowdive – Catch The Breeze
Pixies – Planet Of Sound
Lest we forget
No-Man – Mahler