April 4th, 2014
The release of the Tabu Records Box Set inspired to dig out my Alexander O’Neal albums the other night which still sound terrific. His first two are nearly perfect thanks to the genius of Jam & Lewis but if forced to choose between them I’d pick Hearsay over his debut because of tracks like this.
The video is rather great too. Like, totally 80s.
March 28th, 2014
This popped up on one of my falls down the YouTube rabbit hole and made me realize it must be years since the lovely Clare made an appearance on this blog. This is my favourite single of theirs and the video is almost too delightful for words.
January 27th, 2014
I don’t think this song has anything to do with the film beyond the title, but it’s one of Nick’s best choons and this is a lovely version of it.
Download: Whistle Down The Wind (acoustic version) – Nick Heyward (mp3)
January 10th, 2014
I only just discovered that this video exists the other day. Very dated now but The Paleys are looking quite Indie Chic.
December 17th, 2013
I came across this when I was researching my post on 1980s nuclear tension, the rather grim cover of the BBC listings magazine Radio Times the week they screened Threads.
I doubt if the BBC would have the balls to make a film as difficult and politically-controversial as Threads these days, and I doubt if the current, more populist version of the (once-great) Radio Times would have an image like this on its cover either — unless it was something to do with Doctor Who.
Download: War (Hide Yourself) – Frankie Goes To Hollywood (mp3)
December 2nd, 2013
I’m not actually sure if I ever had my own copy of this poster but if not I would have been about the only Lefty student in the 1980s who didn’t. It must have been hanging on the wall of every bedroom I slept in or living room I partied in during my art school days, and is as iconic a symbol of its era as the Tennis Girl poster — just the thing to have on the wall of your student digs when you brought a girl home to listen to your Smiths’ records because it showed that you were into politics but had a sense of humour too.
Amusing though it was, it did reflect a real anxiety that Ronnie Reagan was crazy/stupid enough to start a nuclear war – limited to Europe of course — and that Maggie, his ideological girlfriend, was too turned on by the size of his missiles. This feeling wasn’t just reflected on student bedroom walls either as the possibility of nuclear holocaust was all over popular culture at the time. There was When The Wind Blows in book shops, Two Tribes in the pop charts, and Whoops Apocalypse on the telly along with the nightmarish Threads which still gives me the willies today (the whole film is on YouTube if you want to relive the horror). We were hardly reassured by the government’s Protect and Survive booklet either.
Apparently, before it became a poster this image originally appeared in the Socialist Worker newspaper which surprises me because I had a mate in the SWP at the time and they didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humour.
Download: (Don’t Let Your Love) Start A War – The Pale Fountains (12″ version) (mp3)
November 26th, 2013
We all know what Mods, Skins, and Punks dress like, but what is Indie style? This is a question the new book A Scene In Between: Tripping Through the Fashions of UK Indie Music 1980-1988 attempts to answer with a collection of photos from the years between Post-Punk and Acid House.
The word “Indie” has long since ceased to simply mean a band on an independent label – I wouldn’t really call New Order Indie – but instead came to describe a certain lo-fi scruffy amateurism, jangly guitars, and singers with fey voices who probably got beaten up a lot at school. The basic template was sketched out early on by Orange Juice and The Marine Girls, then coloured in (with crayons) by the bands on the NME’s C86 cassette.
The fresh-faced charm of the music was reflected in a charity shop-bought style that seemed raided from the band’s childhood wardrobes: anoraks, duffel coats, cardigans, v-neck jumpers, floral dresses, stripey t-shirts, sandals, and plimsolls. At the noisier end of the Indie spectrum where bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain lived the look was slightly more Velvet Underground, but generally the aesthetic was more Ladybird Books than CBGB’s, with a lot of Jean Seberg in Breathless thrown in for the girls.
I was never a full-blown Indie Kid myself, but in the early 80s I did have an anorak and wore those blue deck shoes from Millet’s that were all the rage for a while. At the time I was going out with a girl who dressed exactly like the one in the photo above (except her hair was a peroxide flat-top) whose best mate Eithne was even more Indie-stylish and later made the step from fan to starlet when she joined Twee popsters Talulah Gosh (she’s playing the tambourine in this video). We went to see her play live with them one night and backstage after the show I was amused to see Eithne and Amelia Fletcher surrounded by earnestly shy boys who obviously had major crushes on them. First time I’ve ever seen groupies wearing anoraks, though they were probably offering them mixtapes, not sex and drugs.
Though it’s easy to mock the music and the fashion as “Twee” – and a lot of it was a bit too wet and mopey for me — the Indie scene of the 80s was carrying on the DIY philosophy of Punk at a time when most pop music (and its accompanying fashions and videos) was very polished and materialistic, so in a way they were being quietly radical. Very quietly — while wearing anoraks.
Download: Blue Boy – Orange Juice (mp3)
Download: Velocity Girl – Primal Scream (mp3)
Download: Beatnik Boy – Talulah Gosh (mp3)
October 11th, 2013
Corinne Drewery: Greatest smile in pop music?