A marvellous cassette-only compilation from 1991, released by a small Swedish label, Records From The Cookie Nose Tower. From the title, it would appear that the concept is that it contains Swedish and British acts, though the scattering of Japanese bands (Bridge, Roof, Venus Peter and Marble Hammock) rather undermines that premise.
Regardless, it’s another sparkling selection of early 90s indiepop, with early and rare stuff from then-or-future Sarah luminaries Blueboy (on what may have been their recorded debut?), Brighter and The Orchids (is this really the first time The Orchids have appeared on this blog? Now there’s an oversight), what in retrospect looks like a jarringly big-name contribution from Stereolab, inevitable appearances by Louis Philippe and Momus, and who is that hiding behind the pseudonym Cerise? It’s only Amelia Fletcher, doing a solo version of Heavenly‘s debut single from the previous year!
Oh, and the Swedish and Japanese bands aren’t bad either. Incidentally, Are You Mr. Riley and The Rileys are the same band, they just changed their name… in the middle of this compilation album, it would appear.
Link: Various Artists – Grimsby Fishmarket 4 Norrkoeping 0 (password: salad)
1. “Eusebio” – Louis Philippe
2. “Song About Girls” – Bummer Twins
3. “Walking Back To You” – The Cherry Orchard
4. “This Friendship Of Ours” – This Perfect Day
5. “Chick House” – Roof
6. “Barriers Of Mine” – Are You Mr. Riley
7. “Silent Sigh City” – Happydeadmen
8. “Shaunty” – Joe Clack
9. “She Fakes Apples” – My Finest Hour
10. “I Fell In Love Last Night” – Cerise
11. “Kymri” – The Apple Moths
12. “Jennifer Anywhere” – The Kitchen Cynics
13. “Room” – Bridge
14. “Turn Over” – Momus
15. “Into the Morgue” – Mary-Go-Round
16. “Next Summer” – Brighter
17. “New World” – Venus Peter
18. “Chelsea Guitar” – Blueboy
19. “Not Unusual” – BJ Eagle
20. “The Light That Will Cease To Fail” – Stereolab
21. “High Rise” – The Cherry Orchard
22. “Windmills And Milestones” – Bummer Twins
23. “Wood Dust” – Joe Clack
24. “Ralph De Bricassart” – Happydeadmen
25. “Time Will Pass” – The Rileys
26. “And When I Wake Up” – The Orchids
27. “Birds of Prey” – Marble Hammock
My mp3 players have a habit of dying just before christmas, though to be fair I thought my last one was on the way out this time last year and it managed to hang on for an extra twelve months, despite being literally held together with sticky tape by the end. But the USB connector came hopelessly loose earlier this month, so last week I got a new mp3 player, and thought “I haven’t played The Field Mice in a while, I think I’ll load their entire discography onto this thing”. Which I did, and have spent the last few days reacquainting myself with Bob Wratten and Michael Hiscock‘s brand of bedsit melancholia. I’d forgotten quite what a bonkers mish-mash of musical styles Skywriting is (and incidentally, “Humblebee” is still a pointless throwaway that goes on far too long, which is pretty much how I feel about all non-musical sound collages, apart of course from Yazoo‘s “I Before E Except After C”). Conversely, I very well remembered how magnificent For Keeps is, but it was nice to have it confirmed. And it was also great to hear “Missing The Moon” again. To be honest, this song is the main reason I went straight to the Field Mice discography.
“Missing The Moon” isn’t a christmas song, and once again it’s not even a song that came out at christmas (16 September 1991 according to Discogs). It does however contain a fleeting reference to “the night before christmas”. And it’s a (non-christmas) cracker, with Bob Wratten and Annemari Davies sharing lead vocals, sequencers going crazy, and an electric guitar sorta-wigout to placate the synthpop-hating indie kids (though I can’t see that working, really).
I don’t actually have all that much Sarah stuff on vinyl (mostly later 7″s and anything by Heavenly), but I’m chuffed to own this on 12″, it might even be one of my Desert Island Discs, or at least one of my Tracks Of My Years (now, how do the criteria for those two things differ, do you reckon?)
Link: The Field Mice – Missing the Moon (password: salad)
1. Missing The Moon
2. A Wrong Turn And Raindrops
3. An Earlier Autumn
Wishing all my readers a tolerable christmas…
The answer being: none of them, because this isn’t those Springfields. As mentioned a couple of posts back, this lot were a jangly all-male indiepop band from Chicago and released a tiny smattering of singles between 1986 and 1991, but no album, though the core members Ric Menck and Paul Chastain were reasonably prolific, having a couple of other bands (Choo-Choo Train and Bag-O-Shells) on the go at the same time, and went on to form Velvet Crush, which reminds me that I probably haven’t played any Velvet Crush this millennium either…
Anyway, this was The Springfields’ first single, issued on The Bus Stop Label (its inaugural release!) in the US and Sarah in the UK, pairing their own “Sunflower” with a cover of a Hollies album track, “Clown”. The Sarah release added an extra song, “Are We Gonna Be Alright?”, written by Matthew Sweet, though I’m not sure he’s ever released it himself. If you tend to like stuff from the Bus Stop / Sarah axis, you’ll probably like this…
3. Are We Gonna Be Alright?
I haven’t milked this particular gimmick in over a month, so it’s high time I posted some more songs that share their names with musical acts and vice versa.
Dusty Springfield was a popular target for tributes from the indiepop community in the 1980s/90s… well, I say popular, but that’s based on the fact that I can think of a whopping two examples off the top of my head. Of course one is the ace Chicago indiepop band The Springfields, named after Dusty’s original band, The Springfields. Kind of like how the Chemical Brothers started out as the Dust Brothers, named after the Dust Brothers. Except I think the Springfields managed to avoid any legal threats. In contrast, equally ace janglepopsters The Haywains managed to sidestep any potential confusion by not naming themselves Buddy Holly And The Crickets or anything like that, and simply stuck to singing about Dusty Springfield.
I think everyone knows I like Stereolab. Texan experimental rockers Transona Five clearly like Stereolab too. I’ll be honest, I did deliberately pick their most Stereolab-like track for this, but I think it proves my point.
And finally, a very clear reference to a well-known performer, but what’s this Scissor Sisters song actually got to do with Paul McCartney? Well, nothing really. But apparently Jake Shears had a dream in which he chatted with Paul McCartney about songwriting, and it would appear that the inspiration he got from this was to name a song after Paul McCartney. You’d kind of hope Macca would have given him better advice than that, I mean, not even Paul McCartney ever named a song “Paul McCartney”. Macca’s own song here is from his 1980 album McCartney II, the one that sold a trillion copies off the back of the rocking single “Coming Up” only for buyers to find the rest was weird synth noodlings which most people only played once. “Temporary Secretary” was a single. It flopped.
I’ve mentioned Ruth’s Refrigerator before in connection with Ruth Miller’s other band Po!, and here’s a full LP. A supergroup made up of various luminaries from the Leicester art-rock scene, they issued two albums, of which this from 1992 is the second. In a way, they actually released three albums, since the vinyl and CD editions of A Lizard Is A Submarine On Grass are almost completely different recordings. This is the vinyl version, which also has an exclusive song, a cover of Wire‘s “Outdoor Miner”. Everybody was covering that song in the 1990s.
This is lo-fi indiepop, quite twee with often nonsensical lyrics. In the case of “Examine The Insects And Hit Them”, the song had featured on their first album Suddenly A Disfigured Head Parachuted as an instrumental, with flippant non-appearing, unmetrical, lyrics on the inlay, and then they re-recorded it for this album using those lyrics. The other songs, I have no explanation for.
Link: Ruth’s Refrigerator – A Lizard Is A Submarine On Grass (vinyl version) (password: salad)
1. Moulted Fur From A Labrador
3. Gosh, What A Lot Of Umbrellas
4. Duck Pond
5. What We Waited for And Where It Was At
6. Ducklings #1
8. Examine The Insects And Hit Them
9. Ducklings #2
10. Accordian Music
11. Mr Misery
12. Outdoor Miner
13. My Head’s On Fire
14. Barry Baked Bean Is Back
15. And One More Thing
16. A Science Bar
Pizzicato Five and Flipper’s Guitar are the two bands usually credited with pioneering the 1990s shibuya-kei movement: an eclectic retromodernist approach to music that strongly influenced Japanese pop for a few years. I’ve shared some Pizzicato Five before, both here and in the form of an Imaginary Compilation Album for The New Vinyl Villain, so here’s the other side of the coin.
Where P5 looked to disco, Motown, and French pop for their inspiration, Flipper’s Guitar took their main influences from jangly guitar bands in the UK indiepop scene: Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout, Haircut 100 (after whom they titled a song), The Pastels and of course Orange Juice, from whom they nicked the title of this album, “Three Cheers For Our Side”. Their name was also an oblique Orange Juice reference, being suggested by the jumping dolphins on the cover of their first LP You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever.
Flipper’s Guitar weren’t around for very long: this debut album appeared in August 1989, and they’d split by the end of 1991. The debut wasn’t particularly successful at the time, and by the time the follow-up arrived, the original quintet had been reduced to its creative core duo of Keigo Oyamada and Kenji Ozawa, otherwise known as “The Double Knockout Corporation” (geddit?). The photogenic boy duo proved a much more marketable proposition, particularly with them now performing exclusively in Japanese and exuding an edgy irreverence in media appearances, and their second album Camera Talk, and third, Doctor Head’s World Tower (which picked up on the UK’s newly-trendy baggy and shoegaze scenes) went on to gather both critical acclaim and commercial success. And then they split, abruptly and acrimoniously, leaving a slate of already-advertised tour dates unfulfilled. And they’ve never reformed since. Oyamada went electronic and achieved cult popularity in the West – particularly as a remixer for other acts – under the name Cornelius; Ozawa also had a solo career of less international standing.
But back to the album in question, made when they were still a five-piece (you’ll notice original keyboard player Yukiko Inoue contributing female vocals here and there). You can play spot-the-influence or just enjoy a Japanese take on British indiepop. If you like this, the other original albums are worth checking out too (though I warn you, they are mostly in Japanese), along with the live album On Pleasure Bent, which improves on many of the studio versions.
Link: Flipper’s Guitar – Three Cheers For Our Side (password: salad)
- Boys Fire The Tricot
- Coffee-Milk Carzy
- My Red Shoes Story
- Exotic Lollipop (And Other Red Roses)
- Happy Like A Honeybee
- Samba Parade
- Sending To Your Heart
- Goodbye, Our Pastels Badges
- The Chime Will Ring
- Red Flag On The Gondola
Here’s a twee pop band I’d have liked to hear more from. I don’t know much about Tada Tátà except they’re from Sweden and I think they’re sisters. But I’m not even sure about that. Anyway, they released a self-titled EP and a single, “Susie”, in 2009-10 and then just stopped. This, however, is their original demo. A couple of rinkydink guitars, some glockenspiel (or now I think about it, maybe a child’s toy piano?) and the odd intrusion of a drum machine rhythm.
All these songs reappeared on the EP in new versions, though the version of “Sticky Dumb Gum” on the EP was very similar to the “cello version” here and may even be the same recording, just differently EQ’d.
Link: Tada Tátà – Demo (password: salad)
- Sticky Dumb Gum
- The Brigade
- Sticky Dumb Gum (cello version)
- Hit The Wall
I thought that maybe I should do a straight post of a single or something, so I delved into my shoebox of CD-Rs and picked out this 1991 EP by Melbourne janglers The Sugargliders, which revolved around brothers Josh and Joel Meadows. Soon after this, they started an association with Sarah Records, and I suppose you could say they’re pretty much exactly the sort of band Sarah Records were known for. This early EP isn’t up to the same level as their Sarah stuff, but it’s pleasant enough on its own terms.
I’m sorry I don’t know where I got this rip from; there’s a little bit of crackling on it but it’s not bad.
Link: The Sugargliders – Butterfly Soup EP (password: salad)
- Book of Dreams
- Police Me
Every music blog needs a gimmicky series, so here’s one for you! I post pairs of songs, the title of one is the artist of the other. The song may be named after the artist, or the artist after the song, or there may be no connection…
So first, here’s a very 1985 pop-rock number by a former teenage heartthrob, and some 21st century janglepop referring to the artist in question:
So you get the idea. I don’t think there’s any connection in this next pairing, but two cracking tunes. The first is a fine bit of 70s funk, one of those soundtrack staples that you hear on TV and film all the time and might not know what it is (like I didn’t until this very week) and currently being used by the Beeb to promote “Last Chance Lawyer NYC”. The second is a soul classic that surely needs no introduction:
And finally, here’s one where the artist is named after the song. Both of the songs in this pairing are folk standards which have been recorded by zillions of people, so as far as “Nancy Whiskey” (the song) goes, I just went for the version I’m most familiar with. As for the artist Nancy Whiskey (born Ann Wilson), I thought it was a bit of a cheat to use the best-known Chas McDevitt version of “Freight Train” (because the song’s not called “Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group Featuring Nancy Whiskey”) so I found this very different solo recording instead.
Oh, sod it, here’s the classic version of “Freight Train” as well…
First released 1992, but the single I’m sharing here is the reissue from 1993.