Saturday, November 05, 2005

30 Songs- an Indiepop odyssey

Hello everyone. Another Jonathan here. I have been kindly invited by Ben and the original Jonathan to guest contribute to Art of Noise. Here is the first in what will be a series of posts, all of which will appear both at my place and here (eventually at the same time, but there will be a slight time lag at first while I get my head round all this copying and pasting malarkey). Right, here goes....

In the corner of the living room under the stereo there is a plastic box containing a hundred or so not-particularly well-preserved seven-inch vinyl singles. They are from the late 80s and early 90s- together they formed the soundtrack to my halcyon indie-pop youth. A few weeks ago I dusted off the box to make a 30-song compilation tape for a friend up north. The experience of rummaging through the Silk Cut-scented square covers brought back so many memories that my friend got more than he bargained for: I ended up writing seven pages of 'sleeve notes' to accompany the tape.

I am going to serialise these notes three songs at a time starting today and continuing weekly, more or less. Oh, and the actual music? Well I am sure you can download it somewhere- I'm not au fait with the technology and anyway I don't need to download it, it's all in my plastic box under the stereo. I tell you what though, if any of you would like a copy of the tape- at any time in the next ten weeks- just let me know and I'll stick one in the post. Maybe you could send me a tape in exchange and then we'll both have something to play on our old-fashioned Walkmans, won't we? Right then, without any further ado, we shall start with Side A, Track One....

1 Wedding Present Favourite Dress

It was February 1986 and a few of us had retired, half-way through an all-day drinking session to celebrate his birthday , to the Dudley hall of residence room of an indiepop kid of our acqauaintance . From among the pile of discarded Red Stripe cans and half-smoked packets of Silk Cut, someone produced a brand new white vinyl 7 inch and put it on the turntable. The ensuing noise was raucous, yet tuneful- angry, yet alluring. We got up and started whirling around the tiny room like carefree eigheen year old dirvishes, which I suppose is exactly what we were. In the excitement, the birthday boy put his arm through the window-pane and ended up spending the rest of the night in hospital. As the approaching sirens blared, a certain broad Leeds drawl warbled about his lost love: ‘I can still be drunk at five- oh I guess I surely can’. At this appropriately chaotic moment I fell in love with indiepop in general, and with the Wedding Present in particular. I don’t think I have ever been the same since.

2 Buzzcocks Ever Fallen In Love

Just up the road from the Halls of Residence was the Dudley Student Union building, which featured, hanging on the wall by the bar, a jukebox. Alongside the Nik Kershaw and Kajagoogoo tracks, some kind soul had sneaked on this timeless pop classic. On nights when there was no disco on, we would select it over and over again, without ever tiring of its insistent, heartrending, one-hundred mile an hour refrain. It made for a cheap night out; at 10p a play you could hear Ever Fallen In Love seventeen times and still have enough change from a fiver for four pints of subsidised lager and maybe a bag of crisps. The next thing we knew it was Christmas and we had spent our entire grants on listening to a single two-and-a-half minute Buzzcocks record. Money well spent, I would still say.

3 Soup Dragons Head Gone Astray

Some years later the Soup Dragons would ‘discover a dance element to their music’ and become a sort of poor man’s Primal Scream. But for us indie pop kids they never got better than Head Gone Astray. In fact they never got better than the first three chords of Head Gone Astray, and of these three the first, especially jangly, one, is probably the best. Perhaps the Soup Dragons should have quit while they were ahead, eh?

Songs four to six to follow here imminently... or if you can't wait they are over my place right now (hey, it's like those adverts for BBC3 this, isn't it)...


Blogger Jason said...

I am such a maniac for the 7inch, still to this day....I would love to hear this compilation....I'll see what I can come up with for trade...I have a lot of duplicate 7 inches I could send your way..just let me know.
Thanks a lot,

9:48 pm  

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