Cocteau Twins

Chris : And then that whole indie thing took off. There was the Cocteau Twins and all those things. They were great. I did go and see them a lot I’m afraid to say…

JR : Why? they were a great band

Chris : Yes they were great I was joking, I meant that initially when I went to see them a lot in the early days and every time they were not always great. They played a really short set and were stood on stage with two chairs and a reel to reel and there was not much going on. Mind you she sang beautifully and it was all over in 15 minutes but they captivated you. I listen  to their stuff even now. There was some beautiful stuff that they did especially songs like Head Over Heals, their second album Garlands. I love all those – really beautiful. Eventually they even charted and then there was This Mortal Coil which was also amazing – Kangaroo on that is fantastic and Song For The Siren is just…amazing. For me that was the culmination, although some of the early stuff is also great – like Victorialand. I use that music a lot for TV, of all that stuff at the time it seemed quite timeless really.

For number one in Chris’s top 10 punk and post punk records please go here

JR : What was remarkable about that period was that even more underground bands like ATV would make singles as good as Buzzcocks. There was a massive volume of records.

Chris : ATV – I remember their great song, Action Time Vision and the sleeve – the white one with black lettering on it. The Adverts as well – they were another great band. I love the Adverts – One Chord Wonders, then they had a hit with Gary Gilmours Eyes and they were on Top Of The Pops. One Chord Wonders was always my favourite though and No Time To Be 21 which came later. ‘Burn up through the night Like meteorites’ such great lyrics…

If I had to choose one record it would be like getting asked what’s your favourite bird! My favourite punk record is always impossible to say but the one that will be played at my funeral, if anyone was organizing it, would be Shout Above The Noise by Penetration. For me the lyrics of that are amazing. I remember when I first heard it and was stunned. It was on their second album, Coming Up For Air. The first one was, Firing Squad which was also great. I heard it before the gig and the lyrics were spot on. I saw her interviewed on YouTube and those lyrics sum up the whole thing of life for me – ‘make no mistake shout out above the noise’ – what it was about really.

JR : One of the the great things about punk was how a lot of it from all these weird towns outside London like Penetration coming from Northallerton…

Chris : And Tim Smith coming from Barnstable. There was even less there than where I lived. Imagine being a teenager in 1975 in Barnstable!

JR: Do you still listen to punk?

Chris : These days I listen to things like Against Me. They are the band with the transgender singer and they released an album last year Transgender Dysphoria Blues they said they wanted it to sound like the first Clash album so I bought it and it had some good tracks on it…

JR : Maybe not raw enough!

Chris : Not as raw as I wanted but I could see what they were on about but nothing could be as raw as those old punk records. When you put the first Clash album on now it sounds like it’s happening in your front room doesn’t it. There is nothing clever about it. It sounds real. You know that it’s genuine and it’s not been messed around with and that’s perfect…

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Excellent article. Should have been in VLR though, or at least mentioned. Don’t remember any links at time. Much respect to the man, not just a defender of wildlife but also a true rebel & renegade. Only other comment I will make today is that, no, can’t imagine too many teenagers in “Barnstable”. Unless of the Equine variety of course.


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