Part Two of the rundown… the Definitive Top 20 UK Indie-Pop Albums to celebrate the release of the Scared To Get Happy 5 CD Box-set on Cherry Red.
As decided by fair-weather indie pop fan Ged Babey plus mates;
Not all of these videos are of songs which actually appear on the Cherry Red box set.
Part one is here if you missed it.
Heavenly: Heavenly Vs Satan (Sarah/K 1991)
If Amelia Fletcher had never formed HEAVENLY after TALULAH GOSH she would still be an indiepop icon. Later she was in MARINE RESEARCH, SPORTIQUE and currently TENDER TRAP but she has never bettered HEAVENLY’s first album. Songs like “Stop Before You Say It” and “Lemonhead Boy” are a perfect blend of yearning words and marvellous tunes, mostly played at punk rock tempos and released in this country on Bristol’s legendary and fiercely D.I.Y. Sarah Records. (Rich)
Field Mice: Snowball (Sarah 1989)
Unfairly maligned as ‘another Sarah Records’ band, the Field Mice were far more than that. (Dave)
The Television Personalities: …and don’t the kids just love it (Rough Trade 1981)
Quite simply, the definitive indie-pop album in my opinion, informed by an imagined idea of the Sixties, and one of the greatest albums ever made. Others prefer their later stuff, but to me, they never matched this. (Ged)
Yeah Yeah Noh: When I Am A Big Girl (In-Tape 1985)
This was a compilation of the first three singles with a couple of rare tracks and was assembled mostly with export in mind. But for me it’s a perfect and vital document of Yeah Yeah Noh, from the “Crying Child” picture sleeve onwards (I had a t-shirt with the LP design on, which still fits, ahem, snugly).
If Yeah Yeah Noh fit in anywhere in Indiepop, it’s purely from the fact they were on an independent label (In Tape) and vaugely pop music in its execution. Whereas most of the coming crowd of C86ers concerned themselves with lost love and only lost love, YYN, amongst other things, sang about would-be-gobshite revolutionaries (“Tommy Opposite”), Pub Bores (“Beware The Weakling Lines”), UK Fascism (“Brownshirt”) and vanity pseudo record labels (“Cottage Industry”). These excellent lyrics were backed by a curious amalgam of Mersey beat and DIY Punk, very catchy and full of memorable lines ( “I’m a brownshirt I’m going to keep with country pure, dull ignorant bigoted and poor”). Like Buzzcocks the sleeve design fit the music perfectly. I remember a music paper describing them as downbeat and grey. Couldn’t be more wrong, they were full of life, colour and insight.
Though they swiftly became more psychedelic (the last of the three singles, the Joe Orton tribute “Prick Up Your Ears” pointed the way), this collection catches YYN’s skill, fire and spunk at its most beautifully concentrated. They stuck out from 1984/85 “No socks” soul of the charts like an oasis in the desert. (Ian)
The NME C86 Compilation:
In the perfect summer of ’86 (Glastonbury and all that) I sent off to the NME for the mail-order only C86 tape. The tape introduced me to the likes of Primal Scream, the Pastels, and the Wedding Present. These were by no means the best of what the bands had to offer, but collected like this they showed me a new direction. I’d been hanging around listening to the stories of the old punks and goths for too long. Now, it was my turn. I grew out my dyed black locks and purchased an anorak. The C86 era was new, fresh, and vital. Something I could be a part of from the beginning. I spent the next two to three years building a collection of singles with these at the core. From Velocity Girl by Primal Scream, through Breaking Lines by the Pastels and It’s Up to You by the Shop Assistants to This Boy Can Wait by the Wedding Present, this album was my Bible, and the core of the songs I played at the Labour Club on Friday nights. (Mark)
The Blue Aeroplanes: Tolerance (Fire 1985)
A seemingly obstinate Bristolian art collective, The Blue Aeroplanes made a series of fascinating albums with an ever shifting line-up which still sound like no other music ever created, largely due to Gerard Langley’s free-associative poetry, intoned over velvet-sy guitar lines and some bizarre tape cut-ups. Live they were fantastic, still the only band I’ve seen to feature a vinyl-mixing dj, 4 guitarists and a male ballet dancer. Tolerance is their rawest LP, though Spitting Out Miracles is similarly inspirational. I put some on in the car the other day and my kids were begging me to turn it off. This, I have decided, is a good thing. (Dan)
No Blues Aeroplanes on the Cherry Red box set BUT, the Art Objects, an earlier incarnation of the same band ARE! Hence the video choice, one of the greatest singles of the era. (GB)
The Pooh Sticks: Trade Mark of Quality (Fierce 1989)
I used to buy all my indie singles from a guy called Nick Clarke, who ran a mail order service called Rhythm Records in Cambridge. (He is a great guy, who loves music. He’ll find anything you want. Check out his website at www.rhythmonline.co.uk) It was from him that I picked up all the rarities at a very reasonable price. I got all my Pooh Sticks singles from him. (Funny, I also got the Pastels Songs for Children from him, too.) On Tape cost me two pounds fifty (plus p&p) when it came out and two weeks later I had indie kids at the West Indian Club (where I used to DJ on Thursday nights) offering me twenty for it. On Tape was supposed to poke fun at the anorak scene, but it ended up becoming a kind of tongue in cheek Labour Club anthem. I wrote to Steve at Fierce Records suggesting they play the Labour Club and he called me the next day. (I thought it was MC Rob winding me up.) They came, we recorded it on an eight track mixer, I sold the tape to Fierce Records and the album was released a short while later. It was not their best-produced album and On Tape was not on the track listing. But this album captures the spirit of my youth. It was one of those defining moments in my life. It was what the indie scene was all about. This album would certainly not have existed if it weren’t for the Gnome at the Labour Club. (Hence the album title). (Mark)
Jasmine Minks: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, All Good Preachers Go To Heaven (Creation 1985)
One of the earliest albums on Creation and the label’s finest in my opinion. Originally from Aberdeen, the JASMINES re-located to London and were contemporaries of THE JUNE BRIDES at Alan McGhee’s Living Room club. This debut album has brilliant 60s melodies that THE BYRDS or LOVE would have been proud of but played with punk rock intensity. The phrase “67 in 77” sums up gems like “Mr Magic” and “Where The Traffic Goes” (on the boxset) perfectly. (Rich)
Girls At Our Best: Pleasure (Happy Birthday 1981)
One of those albums that sound like nothing else you have ever heard, but at the same time sounds like an album of greatest hits. It is very difficult to choose a song or number of songs that stand out because it is one of those albums in which all the tracks combine to form a work of art. I still find myself singing songs like Too Big For Your Boots, I’m Beautiful Now, and Fast Boyfriends in soprano in the shower nearly 30 years later. Getting Nowhere Fast is a good choice for the Scared To Get Happy Box Set and will appeal to fans of the Wedding Present. A treasure. (Mark)
The Smiths: Hatful of Hollow (Rough Trade 1984)
(My tastes in indie seem to be disappointingly mainstream. I’m feeling “indie guilt” for the lack of Tallulah Gosh and June Brides on here. I guess I really did prefer a lot of Australian and American bands! )
There was an army of us who’d lived off swapped cassettes of The Smiths’ Peel sessions for a full year (mine only played out of one speaker due to a bizarre copying accident from a mate’s older brother) so it was a shock to unwrap this at Christmas 1984 and not hear Peel’s distinctive voice chip in at the end of each track. It’s still the album I’d grab first from a burning building (well, assuming my iPod was already consumed in flames).
I think it shows The Smiths in their purest form, mostly before John Porter got to work helping Johnny Marr create guitar symphonies (although there are examples of some of Marr/Porter’s best work here, obviously) so you can hear the live sound, warts and all. For any aspiring indie guitarist, the chiming melodies of Marr’s lines here are the ones to try to copy (took me 6 weeks to work out This Charming Man ; no tabs in those days). It’s also the least arch Morrissey set, the closest to his bedsit notebooks. He was always self-mythologising/self-referential, but the ache of This Night Has Opened My Eyes or Girl Afraid is a different, more disturbing beast to, say, Shoplifters or Half-a-Person to come. (Dan)
As the Smiths aren’t on the compilation, the video is of a song which is; a favourite of and covered by Morrissey. (GB)
Various Artists: Doing it for the kids (Creation Records 1988)
Great collection of Creation Bands circa-1988 for the bargain price of 1.99. Tracks by the Weather Prophets, Pacific, Felt, Jazz Butcher and The Jasmine Minks stand out, but worth it just for the Momus track A Complete History of Sexual jealousy Parts 17-24. (Mark)
Choices edited out included James, the Pastels, Primal Scream and Belle and Sebastian.
Compiled by Ged Babey, with massive thanks to all the people who contributed. More writing by Ged on Louder Than War can be found here.