Commercial Break

Billy Preston knows fashion too. But it looks like he keeps his car in the sort of dodgy lock-up garage you’d see in The Sweeney.

Download: Right Now – Billy Preston (mp3)

Something for the Weekend

I love this song, but his make-up and outfit does give the performance an unfortunate “sad clown” vibe. He should have a teardrop painted on his cheek.

The Tribes of Britain

Download: Boys and Girls – Reparata & the Delrons (mp3)

Download: To Be Someone (Demo) – The Jam (mp3)

Download: Teenage Lament ’74 – Alice Cooper (mp3)

Download: Hersham Boys – Sham 69 (mp3)

Indie Chic

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)

Skinhead Sociology

Wot you talkin’ abaht, mate? I just fink it’s got a good beat.

Something for the Weekend

I saw Scottish post-punkers Scars supporting Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls in 1981 and they were superb. Their debut album Author! Author! was brilliant too and they seemed like major contenders for pop stardom. Sadly their lead singer quit the band to make a (failed) go of it as a solo artist and Scars fell apart. So all we have is the one lost classic of an album, a couple of singles, and a few rare clips like this. Shame.

The Tribes of Britain

Download: Pickney Girl – Desmond Dekker (mp3)

Download: Sheena is a Punk Rocker – The Ramones (mp3)

Download: Footsee – Wigan’s Chosen Few (mp3)

Download: The Teams That Meet In Caffs – Dexy’s Midnight Runners (mp3)

It’s Glam Oop North

There’s an exhibition on at the Tate Liverpool at the moment called Glam! The Performance of Style which looks interesting. Part of the show is a 1977 documentary called Roxette about young Roxy Music fans in Manchester getting dressed up to go see the band live. The whole movie is 30 minutes long and looks utterly fab judging by this short clip which makes me really want to see the entire thing (wish they’d used a different song though, don’t they know I posted “Beauty Queen” just last week!) I’d love to make it to Liverpool to see the show too but doubt if that’s on the cards.

Some pics from the exhibition here.



What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com

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