Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Girl Is Not a Girl

So, here is cloud no 40. It's a very limited compilation cd with pop music from in-between two eras that are usually associated with 'back-to-basics' DIY guitar pop: punk and 'indiepop'. Roughly covering 1977-1984, I used to think these years were not very good years for no-nonsense pop. But even though more great pop records might have come out during 1987 than those eight years together, they were a lot better than 1970-1977! The idea was sparked by watching a Factory Records documentary at the recent Music Doc festival - or rather half of it, after which the DVD copy they'd been given came to a halt (luckily I was able to download it after I came home). Factory was arguably one of the most important labels of this period, but I thought the film made too much of its significance. So I decided to make a compilation that didn't feature any Factory bands, and not even truly essential Manchester outfits like The Buzzcocks and The Fall.

Thus the result is not intended as a definitive compilation of the most important bands. If that's what you want you should download Kid Frostbite's recent Definiton '79 podcast for Slumberland, which is more to the point. In fact, many of my favourite bands are omitted - there's no Subway Sect, no Orange Juice, no Aztec Camera, no Felt, no Fire Engines and no Scars. Instead it's a more eclectic mix that tries to tie together a number of developments in different countries that all pulled in the same direction. Especially, it shows the overlap between the 60s revival and the emerging 'indiepop'. Los Angeles' paisley underground scene is represented by The Three O'Clock and Rainy Day (a collaboration between members of different bands - I've always wondered if Rainy Day was the name of the project or just the record, in which case the track here should be credited to Susanna Hoffs of The Bangels, who sings on this version the VU classic). A few years later The Nines arrived and one of their members, Paul Chastain, became a pioneer of American indiepop/powerpop together with Ric Menck.

In England the obvious link was Dan Treacy, whose Whaam! stable is represented by The Direct Hits, The Mixers, The Page Boys (pre-1000 Violins), Marine Girls and The Gifted Children (with Dan himself). Then there were the bands that just didn't fit in whatsoever. Liverpool's The Wild Swans claimed themselves to have their heads in the 1860s, rather than the 1960s like their labelmates on Zoo. The Chefs are still as unique today as they were in 1979 when they were on Brighton punk label Attrix - also the home of The Golinski Brothers. And The Monochrome Set was the first seed to what was to become the world of él. The women on the scene are represented by all-girl bands Dolly Mixture, French accented Mo-Dettes, and their French counterpart Les Calamités.

Australia was bustling with punk and powerpop bands as well, like eg The Passengers. Based in Brisbane, The Go-Betweens led the way back to melody and pop craftsmanship and were followed by bands such as The Lighthouse Keepers and the Waterfront label. And of course New Zealand had Flying Nun, fuelled by the ground-breaking work of The Clean.
Back in England Alan McGee set up Creation Records, and what was orginally a British take on paisley underground would prove to be the start of a new era and became the home of bands like Primal Scream, The Jesus & Mary Chain and Razorcuts (of which The Cinematics was an early incarnation). More or less chronological in order, it thus comes to a natural end with McGee's Biff Bang Pow!.
People who came to the club last week were given a head start on this, but there are still some copies left. All you need to do to get your hands on a copy is to send your address to the email in the sidebar!

As the last copies have now been sent off, I've uploaded the whole thing for you as mp3s. There's a pdf of the cover in there too if you want to print it.

CLOUD 40 Various Artists - Use Hearing Confection


FireEscape said...

Rainy Day was the name of both the band and the project, masterminded and produced by David Roback.

Marianthi said...

That's a wonderful comp, Kris. Wow. That BBP! song is my favourite of theirs, I could listen to it all day. Thanks! x

Fnarf said...

First-rate "bridge" compilation, showing how one thing turned into another. That's often the most interesting time, when bands that think they're doing one thing end up creating something quite different.

jb said...

"The Go-Betweens led the way back to melody and pop craftsmanship" -- I can't agree with this. They had a kind of craftsmanship, yes, but were among the most melodically-challenged of all acclaimed bands.

The Boy and the Cloud said...

hey joe!
i was thinking of their early recordings - i.e. the first two singles "Lee Remick" and "Karen". further songs for a potential first album are compiled on 78 'til 79 - The Lost Album, that's where "Just Hang On" is from. then of course, they went all avant-garde on us.


jb said...

but 'Karen' is utterly unmelodic! that's like the least melodic Go-Betweens song I've ever heard!

julian said...

The middle two minutes of 'No Bleeding' just destroy me. Great comp. Thanks.