To coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Reading festival in 1992, a compilation album was released by Polygram TV featuring tracks by artists who had appeared there over the years – with the focus primarily on indie. It’s a great and somewhat diverse selection and is the third compilation in almost as many months to feature The Sugarcubes’ Hit.
The opening salvo leans heavily on baggy giants. 1991 was the year that James broke into the top 5 with the re-booted Sit Down; having had a triumphant gig to at Manchester’s G-Mex on 8 December 1990. It was also the time of Blur’s arrival, There’s No Other Way’s infectious groove with its beat ‘n’ tambourine saw them reach #8, an immaculate Stephen Street production. Another anthem, Jesus Jones – Right Here, Right Now: inspired by events in Europe of the late 1980s, particularly Perestroika in the Soviet Union. Their true pinnacle and often overlooked at the time as Real Real Real tended to be compiled more often. We go back to 1987 for New Order’s True Faith, the opening track played in my DJ set at my own wedding in 2002. Back in ’92, the 7″ on CD was a rarity so great to see here. Also from those joyful schooldays was Public Image Limited’s Rise; hotwired to my heart.
We go back to Madchester for the radio edit of This Is How It Feels, the Inspirals at their most swirling which is followed by the frantic organ goodness of The Charlatans’ Weirdo. Incredibly tight yet deliciously smooth and imbued with a unique built-in tension. There’s shades Now That’s What I Call Music 17 and the legendary side 2 when the House Of Love rock up with the fantastic re-recorded Shine On. I mentioned the underrated Fontana in my review of The Hit List last year; now I have just seen a fantasy track list for Double Fontana – where the original album is expanded to 20 songs. “There’s a cock of arms.”
Shake And Crawl
I Don’t Know Why I Love You
In A Room
Soft As Fire
Phone (Full Version)
Beatles And The Stones
Safe (Single Version)
Shine On (Full Length Promo Version)
Cut The Fool Down
Never (Full Length Single Version)
No Fire (Promo Version)
“Alan Ball knows the score” sang Pop Will Eat Itself in the addictive Can You Dig It? Sadly this proved to be inaccurate in 1996. Once were warriors etc. Over to you, Chris Wright: “With only one relegation spot still to be decided going into the final match of the campaign, City played host to Liverpool while the Saints faced Wimbledon – both sides chasing vital victories. Alas, it took less than five minutes for Liverpool to go ahead when Steve Lomas had the misfortune to deflect a Steve McManaman cross into his own net. Ian Rush then put the Reds two up before goals from Uwe Rosler and Kit Symons clawed City back into the reckoning. However, Ball then needlessly injected an overdose of confusion into the maelstrom by incorrectly informing Lomas that Southampton were losing and that a draw would be enough to keep City up, thus prompting the midfielder to dribble the ball into the corner in an effort to wind down the clock. In actuality, the match at the Dell was still goalless as Niall Quinn, who had just been subbed off, quickly realised when he checked the live scores on a television in the tunnel. With Southampton looking set to snaffle a point, it instantly re-dawned on City that only a win would be enough to stave off the drop. Sadly, by that point, it was already too late – the game ended 2-2 and squeaky Ball and his leaky City side were consigned to their fate.”
The vibe continues with EMF’s ground-breaking Unbelievable and Carter USM’s crucial Sheriff Fatman. I saw them at Féile 1992 and it was marvelous. Meanwhile The Wonder Stuff didn’t feel happy to follow the lead of other artists on this album and use a previously released track, they recorded a new song – Room 512. A pure melodic joy. Go back to 1989 – to promote the Hup album, a four track CD was distributed which featured Don’t Let Me Down, Gently, Piece Of Sky, Golden Green and the Columbia Hotel incident-inspired Room 410. The latter track, along with 30 Years In The Bathroom, featured samples from Midnight Cowboy. When in the US, The Bass Thing had found and recorded a number of the film’s samples for use on the album – although when a representative of United Artists heard the track, they refused to allow the group to use all of them and Hup had to quickly be repressed containing a shorter version of the track. That promo CD is the only available release featuring the longer version of Room 410 and the group have been forbidden from ever releasing the unedited version in the future. And here it is on Discogs to own forever.
Early February 1990 was a big week for me and The Wedding Present. Monday 5th: I bought the Brassneck 12″ in KG Discs. Got soaked on the walk back to the RTC. Friday 9th: saw them in the SFX, Dublin, a gig that had already been postponed twice. The B-Side introduced me to Pavement via the cover of Box Elder. Next, the wonderful Flowered Up with single #3, the glorious racket of Take It, all deadly guitar riffs and poignant lyrics. What could have been…but cherish what we have, a stunning debut LP and the Weekender 12″. “I have all the self lothing of a wolf in sheep;s clothing, in this carnival of carnivores, heaven help me…” – it can only be Billy Bragg and the wonderful 7″ of Accident Waiting To Happen, possibly his most epic moment. The spell is broken as we move back to 1987 for Iggy Pop’s Real Wild Child before it’s back to the ’90s for Thousand Yard Stare’s 0-0 AET, a totally top number. And we close on a downer, The Mission’s earthy Tower Of Strength, a favourite of Bosco Greene’s. “Salvation lies just a touch away”
Epilogue: Power Of Dreams. Their antipathy towards Madchester was hard to fathom. See it in the interviews and obviously Never Been To Texas which pops us as the penultimate track here. One of the few weak tracks on their excellent debut LP, Immigrants, Emigrants And Me, it always seemed like an outlier in their catalogue. “I don’t want to glorify the E.” I remember the signing session in KG Discs Lisduggan Shopping Centre back in 1990 – got the first three 12″s and LP done but couldn’t figure out where another fan had gotten a 7″ of The Joke’s On Me from. I’ll leave the last word with them: “We hadn’t yet discovered ecstasy. By the time we started recording the second album 2 Hell With Common Sense we were all massive Screamadelica and London rave culture fans. The folly of youth.”
The Wedding Present – Brassneck
Flowered Up – Take It
The Charlatans – Weirdo
Lest we forget
The Wonder Stuff – Room 512