A Mix-Tape Maker’s Best Friend #1: “Strum + Drum”

Strum

Compilation albums seem to be cropping up all over the place at the moment; over at Bagging Area yesterday, Swiss Adam posted three great ones released by Creation, and readers of the Comments section here may have noticed that Martin (who I assume is the same Martin who writes the New Amusements blog – if it isn’t enjoy the free plug anyway!) popped up last week to offer a suggestion – a correct one, as it turns out – about where the acoustic version of The Wedding Present’s “Give My Love to Kevin” I’d posted first appeared.

Now it looks like Swiss might be making a series out of this, so I’ll not step on his toes (not just yet, anyway, although I will probably return to this once his series has finished to post any that I bought but which didn’t feature over at his place), but I will get in early with a couple of songs from the cassette that Martin correctly identified.

When I was in the upper at sixth form, as I think I’ve probably mentioned before, I used to prepare a new mix-tape to play in the common room if not every night, then every other night, much to the annoyance of my parents who had this strange idea that I’d somehow be better off spending my time doing my homework. So, with limited funds available to me, the occasional purchase of a compilation album was a necessity, even better were I to pick up a free one with the NME or some other music mag.

Such was the case with “Strum + Drum”, a cassette which came free with “Underground” magazine. Released in April 1988, I don’t recall ever buying another copy of the magazine either before or afterwards. So what made me but this copy, I hear you ask? Well, for a start it had The Flatmates, of whom I was, and still am, very fond, on the front cover. Also, and I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention, but it had a free cassette stuck to the front.

Other than the aforementioned “Give My Love…” it had a few other songs that I loved. Here’s the track listing in full:

Drum

The Raw Herbs – She’s A Nurse

This is an absolute “lost” classic, although it did reappear on 2013’s mammoth 4-disc compilation “Scared to Get Happy”, although it was titled “She’s a Nurse But She’s Alright”. If you like that, then I would heartily recommend that you pop over to Brian’s place Linear Tracking Lives! and give your ears a treat by giving The Waltones tracks he posted recently a listen.

Miaow! – Belle Vue

Coincidentally, Brian has also posted some stuff by Miaow recently. It’s at this point that I wonder if whoever was responsible for the design of the Strum + Drum cassette knew what they were doing, for I’ve never seen Miaow written with the exclamation mark anywhere else, but there you go, that’s how it’s credited, so that’s what we’ll call them too.

Anyway, Miaow! sound not unlike early Stereolab on this one, so if that’s your bag, give it a listen.

A few months ago, I mentioned that I wasn’t particularly familiar with The Go-Betweens, and, aware that many of my blogging peers revered them, had asked for some suggestions as to where to start investigating their back catalogue (which they duly provided, thanks to you all by the way). You can probably hear the sound of me slapping my forehead and kicking myself when I realised I’ve had this track in my collection since 1988. Doh!

The Go-Betweens – Karen

And finally:

Alex Chilton – No Sex

In 1988, I had no idea who Alex Chilton was, and was not overly fond of this track. However, when I later learned Chilton had cut his teeth in The Box Tops and, of course, Big Star, being the revisionist sycophant I am, I revisited this and decided it was…only okay. Let’s just say it’s not his finest moment.

Although this does give me the excuse to post what I think is one of his finest moments, this, from 1967:

The_letter

The Box Tops – The Letter

And it also gives me the chance to post this clip of them performing on “Upbeat” in 1967; I love this clip because Chilton is trying so desperately hard to seem mean and moody but just can’t keep it up, in much the same way that keyboards player John Evans makes no real effort to keep up the pretence that they’re not miming:

Incredible to think that Chilton was just sixteen years old when that was recorded.

More soon.

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Jez

Contact me by email at: dubioustaste26@gmail.com Follow me on Twitter: @atastehistory Or do both. Whatever.

8 thoughts on “A Mix-Tape Maker’s Best Friend #1: “Strum + Drum””

  1. A whole mess of good listening on this post. Strum + Drum is a tape I didn’t know about until the blogging era. Would have loved to have had that one as a kid. I have been championing the Raw Herbs and have even written a couple of labels asking them to consider a comp on the band. I don’t believe anyone has ever condensed their output into one stellar disc. I would buy it in a minute. Thanks for the mention, Jez!

    1. Cheers Brian, much appreciated. I’d love to hear more by The Raw Herbs too; I’ve got a couple more tracks by way of another compilation album I picked up back in the day (and, since Swiss had kindly given me the OK to run a little series on comps I own, will feature soon). Not as great as ‘She’s A Nurse’ but still pretty darn fine

  2. The Raw Herbs’ entire output comes in at 16 or 18 tracks – the perfect length for a compilation! Why Cherry red or someone haven’t picked up on this remains a cause for concern. This tape was where I first heard them too (I’m pretty sure I’ve still got a copy somewhere) and they stayed with me until the bright new age of the internet allowed me to track down the rest of their discography…

  3. MisterPrime is hiding his light under a bushel. He wrote a spectacular piece about the Raw Herbs at JC’s place a few years ago. I remember it well.

  4. Better than me, Brian! I had genuinely forgotten all about it until you mentioned it. I’ve just had to track it down and read it again. A senior moment, oh joy!

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