Lost English indie classic by Bradford re-issued – ‘Thirty Years of Shouting Quietly’ OUT NOW
Exclusive in depth liner notes extract here featuring Stephen Street plus event and release details
After thirty years out of print, ‘Shouting Quietly’ by Bradford – a lost English indie classic produced by Stephen Street and hailed by Morrissey (who covered one of the album’s tracks, ‘Skin Storm’) – is being reissued this week by Turntable Friend Records. Bradford, formed in Blackburn in the late 1980s, released one album which was praised by critics before the band went their separate ways.
Louder Than War’s own Fergal Kinney has provided liner notes for the reissue, based on interviews with the band and Stephen Street and drawing on Blackburn’s cultural history, and we have an exclusive extract from the liner notes below.
There will be an acoustic performance by two members of Bradford and a Q&A with Fergal Kinney at Blackburn Museum on Saturday 10th February – the event is part of a celebration of photographer Christopher John Ball, who provided the artwork to Bradford’s ‘Skin Storm’, and you can find out more about this one-off event here.
The release is available on double gatefold vinyl (21 tracks) limited to just 500 copies, and a double CD release featuring 30 tracks. Both versions of the release contain the liner notes booklet complete with exclusive photographs. You can buy the release via Turntable Friend Records or via Rough Trade.
Liner notes extract, by Fergal Kinney
Stephen Street: I first heard about Bradford in the press… at this point I had ceased to be Morrissey’s co-writer so I was intrigued to hear this band. When I heard ‘Skin Storm’ I was blown away by how good it was! Around that time I had started the Foundation label with journalist and friend Jerry Smith. We both thought that Bradford would be perfect for the label. I went up to meet them in Blackburn and they showed me their local haunts and before too long we were in the studio recording their first single for the label.
Ian: The band were equally as blessed by Morrissey as by Stephen Street. It was an incredible privilege to make records with who I believe to be England’s best producer. His musical instincts are second to none and he brought out the best in all of us. No one looks better in white Levi’s either.
Ewan: Stephen was much more than the producer of the band. Because he also owned the label, he took on a huge role and became virtually the sixth member for a couple of years. Given his work with the Smiths and Morrissey, we had absolute respect for him. A nicer chap you couldn’t wish to meet: he’d come down the pub with us, play footy with us, we’d jam Viva Hate songs together in rehearsals. He was ‘Team Bradford’.
At the close of 1988, Bradford accepted Morrissey’s invitation to open for him at his debut solo concert – a one-off appearance at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. The concert was free admission but only to those wearing a Smiths t-shirt. As 1988 ended, Bradford were one of the most closely watched up and coming bands in Britain and scheduled to record with British indie’s most celebrated producer. Initial pre-production sessions for ‘Shouting Quietly’ began at the start of 1989 as band and Stephen Street decamped to St Thomas’ studios in Blackburn. In June 1989, Bradford released their first single for the Foundation Label, ‘In Liverpool’. The single entered the indie charts at a highly respectable #12, and for this author it’s the finest single Bradford ever released – all chiming guitars and Ian H’s mannered croon, it’s a gorgeous slice of post-Smiths sophisticated indie pop. ‘Shouting Quietly’ would be recorded across three intense weeks at Loco studios in Wales. Ian H would reflect on these three weeks as some of the happiest of his life – away from Blackburn and immersed into hard graft and maximum creativity. The album closely reflected where Bradford were in 1989 – ‘In Liverpool’ was kept off the record, though a re-recorded ‘Skin Storm’ did make the centrepiece of the record.
Time and time again on the record, Ian H shone as a writer capable of combining pop classicism with a real emotional literacy. Sensitive and articulate, but working class and nobody’s fool – Ian H was the antithesis of much of what was going on amongst his floppier indie contemporaries. If the C86 scene represented a few, middle-class indie ghetto – heavily skewered toward either Glasgow or the South-East of England – Bradford were something entirely different, a rare dispatch from the front line of post-industrial working class life. Their aesthetic reflected this – taking cues from skinhead culture, but not the macho (and often racist affiliated) skinheadism prevalent in the 80s, instead the sharp, aspirational origins of the subculture from the late 1960s. This meant dead men’s Crombie overcoats, polished black Dr Marten boots, light coloured vintage Levi’s. On ‘Shouting Quietly’, Ian’s lyrics were insightful, scathing and romantic (often within the same song) about life in Blackburn at the time.
Bradford’s politics are equally important here. The Thatcher years were merciless and brutal to towns like Blackburn, and Ian H’s lyrics on ‘Shouting Quietly’ reflect the savage boredom and alienation of life as a young man on the wrong end of Thatcher’s Britain. Whilst certainly influenced by other socialist indie acts at the time – the Redskins and Billy Bragg in particular, but there were also contemporaries like the hardline McCarthy and Easterhouse – Bradford’s politics were subtly different. Lived experience, not Marxist theory. Compassion, not dogma. The band’s political involvement extended to joining the ‘Rock Against the Rich’ tour in Manchester shortly after sessions for ‘Shouting Quietly’ were completed – sharing a bill with their hero Joe Strummer, and getting to meet the man and jam to Clash songs backstage with him.
Ian: I suppose we were mining a coal seam of traditional English working class pop but with a searing sense of anger for the woeful political climate of Thatcher’s E ighties. Culture, fashion and music went escapist and we went in completely the opposite direction to that. Our clothes made us outcasts too.
Stephen Street: I was funding the label at the time so it was a big step on my part to pay for the recording of the album but I didn’t hesitate as I really believed in them as a band.
But by the time that ‘Shouting Quietly’ was released in March 1990, seismic shocks had occurred in British music…
- Greed And Peasant Land
- To Have And To Hurt
- Gang Of One
- Always Torn
- Lust Roulette
- Adrift Again
- Radio Edna
- Everything At Once
- Gary’s Going Down
- Skin Storm
- A Wounding
- In Liverpool
- Boys Will Be Boys
- The Loss
- A Pint Of Bitterness
- Tattered Tangled And Torn (Stephen Street version)
- Headful Of Dreadful (Stephen Street demo for album)
- Saturday Insanity (Elephant Studios version)
- Laughing Larry’s (Demo, Village Studios)
- Gatling Gun (Strawberry Studios version)
- Quality Of Mercy ( Strawberry Studios version)
- Here Endeth The First Lesson (Stephen Street demo for album)
- Little Boy Lost (Stephen Street demo for album)
- Hard Feelings (Stephen Street demo for album)
- Lift Your Eyes To Where She Dwells (Demo Square One Studios)
- Fallen Open (Demo Square One Studios)
- Swim (Castleford demo)
- The Swing Of Things (Castleford demo)
- Gang Of One Revisited (Stephen Street)
- Skin Storm (original single version)