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Before Ian Brown's face fell in, before John Squire formed The Shirehorses Seahorses, before Mani became bass player for hire in old man(cunian) 'super'groups, before the 90s. When every band had a freaky dancer and a pop-art rip-off album cover.

Bands should never become famous, that way they'd stay brilliant for ever.

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C30, C60, C86 go!

On Friday we went 'round to Alice's for her birthday, furious games of Rivers, Roads and Rails in which we made a town as designed by a planner addicted to meth and going through a messy divorce (or: Birmingham), lots of pizza, an attempt (by me) to make Ava say 'eyebrow', and listening to the CD86 record CD, a compilation of schmindie curated by Bob Stanley. BoStan recognises that people don't mean A Witness, I Ludicrous and Bogshed when they're talking about C86, they mean the period immediately afterwards: 1987-1991. Unlike the Rough Trade Indie Pop comp of a few years ago, there's no Camera Obscura or anything released since the Tories were deposed, it's The Chesterfields, the Groove Farm, The Bodines, The Shop Assistants, the Flatmates, The Siddeleys. All those bands that meant something (still mean something, the drums at the beginning of Get Out of My Dream by the Clouds is still the best start to any song ever made by anyone, ever). I have had to download the song from Nicotine (Linux version of Soulseek) and upload it here because despite Bob's best intentions, schmindie has not been digitalised, it does not exist on myspace and Spotify and youtube. It's a total lie that you can get anything you want on Spotify and so you can charity-shop your record collection and start a new life in the suburbs. It hasn't even got Waiting for the Great Leap Forward by Billy Bragg, perhaps because it's never been released on CD (Dire Straits fans love Spotify).

What about all those bands who never got on the radio, never had a record out?

There are bands that are never going to be collected on a CD compilation, not even by Peter Hahndorf. For example, Cradleyard, a band from Sheffield that were loved by Radio Hallam's indie hour. They sounded a bit like James (in their Hymn From a Village phase) and, like Prince and Alice Walker, were obsessed with the colour purple. They had an anti-Valentine's song and another that used the words from Kindness by Sylvia Plath. Also from Sheffield, Mrs Kipling with vox by the wonderful Kirsty who also turned up in Slumber (who did a beautiful cover of The Thirteenth Day by El records' Louis Philippe) and then in The Bedflowers who released two tapes and one 12" that never came out. They had song titles like You're Not Blonde and Stupid But I Know Nobody's Perfect and Madly In Live With 25 People and I'm So Cool which was the ultimate anti-Madchester song. And the Wilderness Children, a band from Dundee who did acoustic folky waltzes with bite:

She's got lace in her hair, she's got stars in her eyes, she's got something I never had (she's got you). I don't feel bad when I hear her name 'cos I know how to play that game, I'll lie flat on my back and swear that I'm thinking of you -

I have found five of their songs but their best one, West Coast, about being young in Summer (which is essentially the crux of all indiepop), is gone forever. I don't know where it is, I don't know who would have it. Even Twee Net refuses to admit it exists. I find it a little bit tragic that I'll never be able to listen to that song again.

I've been wasting my life.....I've finally realised (hey hey hey) I've wasted so much time

On Tuesday we went to see Darren Hayman, Tender Trap and 'Allo Darling at Bardens. I was bored to death. The bands were good, the sound was fine, we found a seat, the other people in the audience weren't too terrible, but I was just waiting to go home. Live music, something that was the most exciting thing in my entire life when I was 18, now bores me to death. It's like waking up with no sense of taste and not being able to enjoy food or drink anymore. Again, a little bit tragic.

Although perhaps that's an overstated comparison, I have recently heard two wonderful songs on Radcliffe and Maconie (sadly, my conduit to modern music is two old geezers) that I adored, Night Times by Sara Lowes  and 15-20 by the Phenomenal Handclap band which sounds like The Go! Team but even indier and with a slice of FUNK. On the PHCB's myspace page, it says that they're playing at Cargo. I'm not going.
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I wasn't a big fan of baggy/Madchester, at least not when it became a scene, although I was blown away by the first release of Wrote for Luck (not the remix) and I remember cheering when She Bangs The Drums entered the charts in summer 1989. But Northside, The Farm, Flowered Up, the Mock Turtles....urgh. The nadir of Candy Flip and that horrible cover of I'm Free (the Soup Dragons will always be Whole Wide World to me, not ragga-toasters). Listening to the songs now, I can see how radical it all was, the jangly guitars and hard beats, the harsh vocals over sunny dance numbers. Anorak boys with sequencers.

I love the way Perfume starts out soft and sweet as if they're about to sing a song about skipping through summer meadows, the boys dreamily staring at the ground, the girl trying out some freaky dancing and then at 46 seconds in it kicks in and the lead singer smiles a secret - he's about to unleash the happy Joy Division onto the world, Ian Curtis vox over such a joyous, jubilant tune.

January 2017

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