Indie Top 20 Volume 15 (Beechwood Music, 1992)

Indie V15

Indie V15 r

Review
The 15th volume in the Indie Top 20 series contains singles that are inextricably tied in to The Last Days Of Harold’s Cross. Number 88, number 8. As outlined in my rather lengthy review of Indie Top 20 Volume 14, I had taken up residence in a basement flat during October 1991 and would remain there until early May 1992. As those final weeks unfolded, things got a little bit crazier and the nights out had a greater edge than usual. The pre-drinking rituals consisted of Linden Village in cups washed down with pizza before hitting Hynes in Rathmines for four swift Guinness. And then the bus into town, usually a 15.

And the sleeve note comments are still around:
Curve – Fait Accompli (Extended, Extended, Extended Mix): “The single that preceded Curve’s debut album Doppelganger is so seductively heavy, one critic was moved to remark that it sounds like ‘Deborah Harry colliding with Motorhead in a demolition derby’. As another critic said ten months ago, ‘Curve are theoretical perfection come true.'”
The Boo Radleys – Lazy Day: “1990 was the year in which Boo Radleys came stormin’ out of their hometown in Liverpool with their debut mini LP Ichabod And I. Within the blink of an eye the band were signed by Rough Trade and went on to release three EPs before leaving Rough Trade for Creation. Their first release for Creation was the Adrenalin EP which the 90 second pop burst Lazy Day is taken from. The stunning Everything’s Alright Forever album quickly followed which established The Boo Radleys as the inventive leaders of the post Valentine era.”
Pale Saints – Throwing Back The Apple: “Pale Saints stand resolutely alone, indefinite, indefatigable, making strange and unforgettable noise in a sphere of their own creation. They’re a mix of apparent contradictions, the bleak and the ravishing, but in their hands, it sounds as natural as breathing. Godsends with electric guitars.”
Adorable – Sunshine Smile: “After a handful of impressive gigs and an out of this world demo, Coventry’s Adorable were signed up by the ever expanding Creation label. Sunshine Smile became their debut single in May ’92 and is a perfect illustration of the group’s theory about the perfect song being somwehere between the sound (crystalline guitar lines collapsing into chaos) and the melody (simple but subtle).”
Suede – My Insatiable One: “The NME recently described Suede as ‘a band worth becoming obsessed with’. They were totally correct in their assessment of a band who have exploded upon the UK music scene in a manner fitting to the new messiahs. ‘Suede are truly a one-off; they defy current convention and through self-belief and songwriting genius they are redrawing the boundaries.”

Verve – Man Called Sun: “‘The Stones at their most stoned’ is a good point of entry as any to the wonderful world of Verve. ‘There’s an aura surrounding them, a real palpable bitch of an aura, that makes you feel like dogs in the presence of ghosts; you can feel it but you don’t know what it is. Verve are gigantic.'”
The Breeders – Do You Love Me Now?: “Sex, astral projection, abortion, television, human nature, God and magic. These were just some of the themes handled in a jaggedly explosive anti-fashion on Pod, the 1990 debut album from The Breeders. Eighteen months on, The Breeders have taken time out from their globe-trotting rock ‘n’ roll careers to assemble some more garulous guitar graffiti in the shape of an EP Safari. Do You Love Me Now? is one of the four tracks featured on the EP which reached number one in the British independent chart.”
Kingmaker – Celebrated Working Man: “Outspoken, different, arrogant, spoiling for a fight, Kingmaker although signed to a major, represent an independent teen spirit so often squeezed mercilessly out of a young band in the industry’s clutches. Expect a brace of foot-tapping, ear-burning, government-popping, mind altering EPs throughout ’92 and beyond. These monarchs ain’t abdicating just yet!”
Revolver – Venice: “Revolver are back with their Ralph Jezzard produced Venice which has a much harder edge to it than any of their previous work. All the tracks featured on Venice highlight the fact that the band are moving in a progressive direction, they even bring a flash of inspiration to the old Strawberry Switchblade Since Yesterday. All of Revolver’s previous singles are now available on the import album Baby’s Angry. However, look out for their debut album which will be with us very shortly.”
Spectrum – How You Satisfy Me: “The debut single from Sonic Boom’s new band Spectrum. It achieved the coveted single of the week position in Melody Maker and was described a ‘a triumph of low fidelity’. Spectrum’s debut album ‘Soul Kiss’ on Silvertone is Sonic’s seventh, in one form of another.”

Levitation – World Around: “Levitation dive into a pool so deep they might never hit bottom, but they are sending back postcards from the edge that makes it sound like a weird and wonderful place to be.”
Captain America – Flame On: “After exploding on to the independent scene at the start of ’92, Captain America have gone from strength to strength, despite almost being taken to court by C&A over the design of the front cover of their Flame On single. Captain America are undeterred by all this trauma and look set to take the world by storm when their eagerly awaited long player is released towards the end of this year.”
Midway Still – Better Than Before: “After the critical success of their first two EPs I Won’t Try and Wish, Paul, Jan and Declan took a brief holiday before launching themselves into the recording studio for their debut LP. After ten days in a London Docklands studio with the irrepressible Don Fleming, Midway Still produced the wonder that was Dial Square. Better Than Before became their third single in March 1992 and captured the boy’s soulful cranked up pop at its best.”
The Family Cat – Steamroller: “Formed at the start of 1988, The Family Cat are the band who seem to be living all their nine lives at once. Following a handful of critically acclaimed records and a change of record company, The Family Cat are finally on the edge of greatness. Steamroller is their debut single on Dedicated and is featured on their debut full length LP Furthest From The Sun. The Family Cat are definitely in ‘The Purr…Suit of Excellence'”
Wonky Alice – Sirius: “This is Earth calling Captain Wonky. You’ve really made the grade this time. Sirius is a blinder which will see Wonky Alice orbiting your stratosphere any time now.”

The Wolfgang Press – A Girl Like You: “The Wolfgang Press have been together now for the best part of a decade, in which time they have released a myriad of experimental work from the PiL influenced Burden Of Mules to last year’s cover of Randy Newman’s Mama Told Me Not To Come. A Girl Like You follows on from the success of their ’91 Queer album.”
Moonshake – Secondhand Clothes: “Hailing from various corners of Hackney, Moonshake have quickly established themselves as one of the most innovative bands around. This, the band’s second single, captures perfectly their experimentation with hip-hop beats and dub bass sounds and like its predecessor found its way into the upper reaches of the independent charts. Moonshake are a four piece consisting of Margaret Fielder on vocals and guitar, Dave Callahan vocals and guitar, John Frenelt on bass and Mig on drums. They will be releasing their debut LP on Too Pure in October ’92.”
Spitfire – Wild Sunshine: “Spitfire wear tight back trousers and winkle pickers. They’ve got long hair and frightening confidence. They describe themselves as ‘one of the most talented bands around at the moment’. The NME recently commented that Spitfire are ‘sleek, fast and sexy’. Just remember, it’s not the car, it’s not the plane, it’s the attitude.”
Daisy Chainsaw – Pink Flower: “AC/DC, Bowie, Can, Dead Boys, Everly Brothers, Fugazi, The Gap Band, Hendrix, Iggy, Joy Division, Kinks, Lords of the New Church, Motown, No Means No, Orange Juice, Psychedelic Furs, Suzi Quatro, Rufus, Supremes, Temptations, Uriah Heep, Gene Vincent, Stevie Wonder, XTC, Young Gods, Tabitha Zu… with a list of influences this long and varied, Daisy Chainsaw can be nothing else except out of this world.”
Sultans Of Ping FC – Stupid Kid: “The Sultans follow-up to their mind-boggling debut single Where’s Me Jumper, a paean to the horrors of losing one’s best jersey at the discotheque. Their debut album will be released around September ’92.”

The pointless marketing ploy of including extra tracks is repeated here with a bonus 7″ accompanying the double LP version. It featured unreleased tracks from Moonshake and Spectrum; Night Tripper and Taste The Ozone. Neither were of any cop. And so we begin with Curve. As I pointed out when reviewing Indie Hits, Fait Accompli was a marvelous one-off look at the future; ideal for Top Of The Pops and daytime radio. In a strange move, Tim Millington has decided to include the Extended, Extended, Extended Mix which appeared on the second 12″, ANXTT 36. It’s fine but makes for a rather laboured opening. Incidentally the regular 12″ had two fine B-Sides – Arms Out and Sigh. Y1 says this: “Arms Out has lighter drums, noisier guitars and a dreamier sound, whereas Sigh is more free-form, more fragile and yet cool as Curve always were, arguably the highlight here.” This of course means that we now needed a short track to compensate and as if by magic, the Boo Radleys’ Lazy Day zips by in 90 seconds; a kind of Velocity Girl for the early 1990s. Taken from the Adrenalin EP and would also turn up on the revelatory Everything’s Alright Forever, a record that I would regularly get smashed to.

Coming two weeks after the Curve and Ride albums, In Ribbons was a great leap forward for the Pale Saints. Meriel Barham (ex-Lush) joined which had the immediate effect of supplementing Ian Masters’ rather weak vocals. The album glides by an arc of undefinable romantic loss. The opening track, Throwing Back The Apple, is a bright slice of psychedelic pop (like Twisterella) with a late 60s meets floppy fringe sheen. It leads onto new Creation hopefuls, Adorable, with their barnstorming romantic guitar blast Sunshine Smile. The Stone Roses meets Echo & The Bunnymen? It now reminds me of more parties – these ones at South Circular Road – where away from the chaos, Jimmy B would load up 12″ singles on this stereo. Another one of them was by Suede, emerging in May just as I was about to pack up and go home. The Drowners was unspeakably huge – then compiled on Precious that helped me transition back to living with my parents some weeks later. But we get the B-Side here, the extra track on the 12″, My Insatiable One – key evidence that the band could do no wrong and everything they touched turned to gold. NME front cover, reports of crazy London gigs & a frenzied rise to fame would unfold during the rest of ’92.

Another band making waves were Verve who released their debut single All In The Mind in March. Thrown away on the flipside was the stunning Man Called Sun, a 3.00am sleeper that called to mind Nick Drake, John Martyn and the spirit of Pink Floyd. The debut LP A Storm In Heaven followed in June and became a late night favourite, post-Galavan’s. On headphones. Meanwhile, The Breeders were gearing up for a tour with Nirvana when they dropped the cracking Safari EP. Do You Love Me Now? was the lead track, a maudlin yet compelling ballad. And after such a front-loaded first third, things could only get worse. Kingmaker had their moments but The Celebrated Working Man is not one of them; more like an exercise in drudge rock. Elsewhere Venice shows the law of diminishing returns settling into the output of Revolver and their meandering Venice. Closing off the first half are Spectrum (Sonic Boom’s mob) with the searing psych riffage of How You Satisfy Me. “I love the way this song goes into and comes out of the chorus.”

Levitation up the tempo with the rather rocking World Around which doesn’t deserve the faint praise it occasionally gets. Finally Captain America make a half-decent record with the pleasant strum of Flame On while Midway Still’s Better Than Before is oddly self-fulfilling. Maybe time to re-appraise Dial Square, a record so bargain bin-ish that there are 33 vinyl copies on sale at Discogs. Making a surprise appearance: ’89 heroes The Family Cat with the tuneful Steamroller before the nagging Wonky Alice and their changeable Sirius. And now let’s slow things down: 4AD mainstays The Wolfgang Press drop the silky, steely Girl Like You. It’s a diamond in the rough as we’re back on the ugly stage next with Moonshake’s crawling Secondhand Clothes and Spitfire’s obnoxious , drum-heavy Wild Sunshine. As if that wasn’t enough, Daisy Chainsaw will make your stereo self-destruct with their treble terror twilight trash Pink Flower. After such discordant sounds, it’s a relief to end the CD with The Sultans Of Ping FC and the lead track from their second single, Stupid Kid. A one-dimensional slice of punka fun; maybe the Nigel Clough-tastic Give Him A Ball And A Yard Of Grass would have worked better. “I know the PVC wearing wankers. They wish they lived in council estates in the northside of Cork city.” (Raleigh)

Favourite tracks
Adorable – Sunshine Smile

Pale Saints – Throwing Back The Apple

The Boo Radleys – Lazy Day

Lest we forget
Verve – Man Called Sun

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1 Response to Indie Top 20 Volume 15 (Beechwood Music, 1992)

  1. Pingback: Volume Four (Volume, 1992) | A Pop Fan's Dream

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