The 16th volume in the Indie Top 20 series sees the compilers regain control and present a cohesive and quality selection of singles after the relative disappointments of the 1992 instalments. Another Best Of had been released in December ’92 but I haven’t bothered to review it because it offered no new tracks. For this new release, the obligatory sleeve notes are conspicuous by their absence; it’s really of case of letting the music do the talking.
It was January 1993 and I was in Mount Pleasant Avenue, Rathmines. I played the Drop Nineteens’ shoegazing classic Winona full blast. A sunny day, window open, coffee in hand. This wall of sound provoked simultaneous complaints from the basement, adjoining and upstairs flats. We lived on the ground floor and underneath us was the American singer Tom Pacheco and his wife Annie. They had come to Ireland for a brief visit in 1987 and had ended up staying for 10 years. During that sojourn, Tom played many gigs both here and throughout Europe and released a number of albums on the Round Tower label – Eagle In The Rain, Sunflowers & Scarecrows, Tales From The Red Lake. Sometime later in ’93 I remember going to the launch of his Big Storm Comin’ album and being entranced with his chilling song The Deer. Back to Winona; its evocative video which I saw frequently on MTV’s 120 Minutes, screams 1990s. The pure unbridled joy of youthful optimism.
Rewind: Indie Top 20 Volume 16 begins with the single edit of Sugar’s Changes. See my review of NME Singles Of The Week 1992 for more sweetness. Next, the narcotic industrial rush of Curve’s Horror Head complete with Toni Halliday at her most alluring in the hypnotic video. The 12″ came in a black outer box with a poster and three excellent B-Sides. Doppelgänger was mixed at Todal Studios by Curve and Flood in late ’91, but for this single’s release, Alan Moulder tossed on some radio friendly sparkle. You can spot the differences after the intro. We then get another Suede flip, in the form of He’s Dead which appeared on the 12″ of Metal Mickey, Nude 3T. “With all the love and poison of London.” A beguiling and almost free form track, it’s further evidence of the quality of material from those early days. As so many have said before, CD1 of Sci-Fi Lullabies is a stunning album in its own right. Meanwhile, Pavement were slowly making waves and the single release of Trigger Cut – “fruit covered nails” – further cemented their growing cult status and endeared them to me even more.
Revenge Of The Goldfish was the Inspiral Carpets third album and one with a very strong run of 45s. Dragging Me Down, Two Worlds Collide, Generations and Bitches Brew. The fourth and final single is featured here, a thoughtful if somewhat gloomy slice of swirling melodies. It’s followed by the stunning bassline of Adorable’s I’ll Be Your Saint, a track that’s so confident, it comes across as the work of a massively inflated ego. And then the Throwing Muses of the Red Heaven era, the bristling Firepile before making acquaintance with Stereolab on the minimalist drone of Low Fi. The latter was 10″ single purchased in Freebird Records sometime in 1993 and after many years of trying to crack its charms, I remain unconvinced. They have plenty other singles that don’t need any perseverance to enjoy. Elsewhere The Sugarcubes bow out with the searing Jim & William Red Christmas Eve Remix of Birthday, best described as a period piece from the It’s It era.
Sowing the seeds of Britpop: Verve’s She’s A Superstar is right at home here, a moody and towering performance full of psychedelic highs that was recorded inside the swimming pool at The Manor Studio in Oxfordshire. That’s why the guitar and drums sound so epic. The full length version that appears on the 12″ and CD single (backed by the equally magnificent Feel) is included on the excellent deluxe edition of A Storm In Heaven. However it’s the 7″ edit that’s preserved here – which was omitted from the remaster – so on that basis alone, makes this CD worth the asking price. And another rare 7″ mix pops up next; Spiritualized’s Medication, released in July ’92 and a welcome new track after the glorious Lazer Guided Melodies. Eventually a reworked version would kick off 1995’s Pure Phase LP. Over to Pulp and the foot-tapping joy of Babies, which came out on the Gift label. Most people will remember from the Sisters EP in 1994. That remixed version is featured on the His ‘n’ Hers album while the original single mix can be found on the Intro – The Gift Recordings. “Probably the best song ever written about teenage boys hiding in their girlfriend’s older sister’s wardrobe.” (Max Madonia)
And there’s more gold in them hills: The Jennifers featured Gaz Coombes and Danny Coffey, both future members of Supergrass. Just Got Back Today is a pleasant one-off and flows nicely into Spectrum’s haunting Daniel Johnston cover, a single I played a few times over the Christmas holidays of 1992. The last quarter mixes the good, the bad and the ugly – starting with Moose’s quite ordinary Little Bird before improving gradually on Belly’s debut, the storming Dusted. Taken from the Slow Dust EP, this was re-recorded for the Star LP so nice to have the original here. Next is the 7″ mix of Swervedriver’s Never Lose That Feeling, a juggernaut of sandblasted rock that bridges the Raise and Mezcal Head eras. Sadly, the closing brace of tunes are less memorable. Although at least the Smashing Pumpkins would leave the lumpen Gish era behind them – I Am One is unsubtle and samey – whereas the dreadful Come don’t even deserve a footnote as their turgid and obnoxious Fast Piss Blues represents the worst type of angry, tuneless US indie rock.
“Hi, could I speak to Tom please?”
“Yes, just hold on a minute”
“Tell him it’s Bob”
Curve – Horror Head (Remix)
Verve – She’s A Superstar
Inspiral Carpets – Bitches Brew
Lest we forget
Drop Nineteens – Winona