Indie music: what is it?
What most people would consider “indie”Â has changed over the years. Nowadays a fair amount of what might be termed “indie”Â is churned out by major labels; something of a contradiction in terms. For me the indie (i.e. independent) scene was kick started by punk.
There were plenty of independent labels around prior to punk: early rock n roll labels; Northern Soul labels; R&B; people like Bill Nelson and so on. So when labels like Stiff, New Hormones, Rigid Digits, Small Wonder, Step Forward and others began putting out punk and punk-inspired records it wasn’t particularly new.
What may have been different was the proliferation of releases. From late 1976 onwards there was an explosion in DIY or small scale labels, to add to those that would over the years become, if you like, the “major minors”Â: Rough Trade, Factory, Cherry Red, 4 AD and Mute (arguably the largest of the lot).
My label, Ron Johnson Records, was one of the minor minors, distributed by The Cartel from 1983. If the label had been running a little earlier, and I’d had my pick of the bunch ”â these are the dozen singles (all but one are 7-inch singles or EPs) that were released by UK labels from 1976-1983.
I’ve chosen them purely from a sonic point of view: I just love the way they sound.
There are many other equally deserving tunes ”â but these are the Pre-Ron Johnson Records first 12”Â¦
1. Buzzcocks – Spiral Scratch EP: Breakdown/Boredom/Time’s Up/Friends of Mine (New Hormones ORG1 January 1977)
2. The Damned – Neat Neat Neat/Stab Your Back/Singalonga Scabies (Stiff BUY10 February 1977)
3. Alternative TV – Action Time and Vision/Another Coke (Deptford Fun City Records DFC07 1978)
4. The Cure – Killing an Arab/10.15 on a Saturday Night (Small Wonder Small 11 1978)
5. The Fall – Bingo Master’s Breakout/Psycho Mafia/Repetition (Step Forward SF7 1978)
6. Gang of Four – Damaged Goods/(Love Like) Anthrax/Armalite Rifle (Fast Product Fast5 December 1978)
7. Subway Sect ”â Ambition/A Different Story (Rough Trade RT007 1978)
8. Cabaret Voltaire – Extended Play EP: Talkover/Here She Comes Now/Do the Mussolini Headkick/The Set Up (Rough Trade RT003 November 1978)
9. 23 Jewels – Playing Bogart/You Don’t Know Me (Temporary Records Temp1 1979)
10. The Pop Group – We are all Prostitutes/Amnesty International Report (Rough Trade RT23 October 1979)
11. The Birthday Party – Release the Bats/Blast Off! (4 AD AD111 1981)
12. Crispy Ambulance – The Presence/Concorde Square (Factory Benelux FACBN4 1981 12”Â)