After having stated numerous times over the past few weeks that I try not to make these mixes themed, saving those for the occasional airing over at JC’s place, a themed mix is exactly what tonight’s is, although it’s a very loose theme that you may not have even noticed had I not been stupid enough to mention it.
I was thinking the other day about how I often bang on about when I started DJ’ing when I was at college, taking over the fortnightly Indie Disco at the beginning of my second year, which was way back in 1989. And I thought it might be rather nice to do a playlist of the sort of things we used to play, until the Madchester scene exploded and changed 80% of our playlist (for the better; the night was dying on its arse until we were saved by the lads and lasses in hoodies and massive flares).
So that’s what tonight’s mix is: a load of tunes from around the time when I started, some from a little earlier, some I must admit, from a little later. Also, I’ve tried to avoid some of the big hitters – so no Smiths, Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen. But I’ve tried to recreate how an hour of our Indie nights generally sounded back way back when.
Also, in a change to normal, instead of just giving you a tracklisting, I’ve added some sleeve notes for you. Cos I’m nice like that. I might carry that on, we’ll see.
Anyway, chocks away, here we go:
- The Stone Roses -Bye Bye Badman
- The Chesterfields – Two Girls and a Treehouse
I’ve kicked off with these two as a tip of the hat to the guy I first started DJ’ing with, a lad off my course named Danny Sweeney. He would always try to squeeze these in because “nobody else plays them”. Danny was sensible enough to stop DJing after a year so that he could focus on his course as it entered it’s final year; I was less sensible, stood for election for the post of Social Secretary, DJ’d loads more, and ended up having to retake my final year, adjudged to have failed the course because, although I passed all the exams and coursework, I hadn’t turned up to enough lectures. Not that I’m still bitter about it or anything, thirty years later, you understand.
3. The Darling Buds – Shame on You
Because of the size of the venue (400 capacity), we would often get little-at-the-time bands, on their way up. The Darling Buds played one Friday night; a day or so later I was talking to two blokes who were absolutely astounded that we’d had a band on who they saw on Going Live! (or whatever the Saturday morning live show on the BBC was called at the time) the next day.
The Darling Buds were one of a clutch of indie bands fronted by blonde female singers – see also The Primitives and Transvision Vamp. They were also the first band I ever met; my mate Keith and I being permitted access to the dressing room after the gig, where the band (and lead chanteuse Andrea in particular) studiously ignored us for about fifteen minutes until we sloped off with our tails between our legs.
4. The Wonder Stuff – Unbearable
Because the Indie night was not exactly the hottest ticket in town, you tended to notice and recognise most people there. And so it was that Keith and I took pity on one lad, who was always on his own. We invited him to join us, which he did. Soon afterwards, we realised why he was always alone: he was exceptionally dull. But now he thought we were his friends, so whenever we arrived he homed in on us like the world’s most boring missile. Burned into my memory is the time this tune, with lead Stuffie Miles Hunt at his sneering best, got played; we all danced, but Keith, unkindly in my opinion, kept singing the chorus in the lad’s general direction at first, and right in his face later. Fortunately, he just thought Keith really liked the song.
5. The Fall – Mr Pharmacist
Some big-hitters I just can’t leave out, and having mentioned Miles Hunt’s sneering, it seemed only right to post something by the late great Mark E. Smith, who seemed to have his upper lip permanently set to curl.
6. Sandkings – All’s Well With The World
Remember Babylon Zoo? Once upon a time, they had a few seconds of their record Spaceman used in a jeans advert, resulting in it being catapulted to the top of the charts, as was the way of the world back then. Problem was, the few seconds used in the ad were by far the best thing about the record, which swiftly descended into one of the dullest turgid drones ever to grace the charts at all, let alone the coveted #1 position. Well, this is the band that Babylon Zoo’s Jas Mann was in before he briefly found fame, and this is loads better than Spaceman. Around the time, many bands were trying to sound like either The Smiths or R.E.M.; this falls into the latter category.
7. Milltown Brothers – Never Come Down Again
Speaking of bands trying to sound like R.E.M., that was an allegation often levelled at this lot. I can kinda see what they meant, although it’s not a comparison I would have made myself. This is ace though, in an of-its-time way.
8. The Family Cat – Steamroller
Contains a really great loudQUIETloud section which is so good they repeat the trick later on, stretching out the elastic of the QUIET bit for so long that when it eventually twangs and the loud crashes back in again, the joyous rush it brings still gets me every time all these years later. Play it loud.
9. The Wedding Present – Don’t Laugh
Okay, okay, another from a big hitter, but this is one of the extra tracks from the Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm 12″, each of which is an absolute belter, detailing, as Wedding Present songs so often did, relationships on the cusp of breaking, or which have just gone over the edge. Gedge at his bitterest best.
10. Kingmaker – When Lucy’s Down
Because those few people who actually remember Kingmaker generally remember them for Ten Years Asleep, and not for this little beauty. Which is rather sad.
11. That Petrol Emotion – Hey Venus
Because many people think that the former Undertones only ever had one decent tune (Big Decision), and they’re wrong because this is pretty great, if a little poppier, too.
12. The Waltones – Bold
The Waltones should have been huge. But having tip-toed to the very verge of being popular, Madchester happened and suddenly their brand of jangly indie pop had fallen down the pecking order. Them’s the breaks.
13. James – How Was It For You?
The song which, along with Come Home, laid the foundation for their less-folky, more-stadium sound, before Sit Down was re-released for the umpteenth time and became the smasheroo we all know and love/hate (delete as applicable).
14. Inspiral Carpets – She Comes In The Fall
Still stands the test of time this one, in my book. Also in my book: the Inspirals were one the best singles bands of the late 80s/early 90s. Moo!
15. The Motorcycle Boy – Big Rock Candy Mountain
Just as C86 darlings The Shop Assistants had tickled the fancy of indie tweesters up and down the land, lead singer Alex jumped ship and formed The Motorcycle Boy. This is by far the best thing they ever did.
16. The Sundays – Can’t Be Sure
Oh, Harriet *sighs*.
17. World Of Twist – She’s A Rainbow
Long before The Verve, and around the same time as Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine felt the wrath of Jagger and Richards legal team, World of Twist released this rather wonderful cover of the Stones’ classic. They were sensible enough to dodge the lawsuits by remembering to credit the wrinkly wonders as songwriters though.
And that’s your lot, til next week.