Saturday, July 24, 2004

various artists "the sound of leamington spa, volume 4" (firestation / bilberry / clarendon)

while one may consider there is an upper limit to the joy to be gleaned from the 61st to 80th obscure mid-eighties guitar tunes (any desperate need to hear an old submarines b-side, anyone ?) to have been dredged up by this audophile-baiting series, ours was immediately inspired by seeing our great mate paul mowat's "my secret world" in the collage of fanzines that bedecks this cd's sleeve - yes, we were back there in the day, flogging the zine in the playground and wearing our golden dawn badges with teenage pride. and, while the very nature of this peculiar retrospective series means that, in most cases, there is a very good reason why the world never got to hear of most of the bands within, the compilers have still unearthed some gems.

the nivens, for example, were obviously quite brilliant, as their jangly-as-fcuk first single "yesterday" shows (even - especially - with its scratched from-vinyl remastering, reminding us of how good the subsequent withdrawn 7" ep "dialect drug" was, too). they are the ample proof that - as now - for every 10 terrible, pathetic, rubbish, dishwater-dull indie pop bands adored by narrow-minded cliquey scenesters, there was one band, usually marooned on the margins, that made it all worthwhile and then some. the clouds' single on subway, "get out of my dream", will require no introduction to the indie kid class of '86: for the rest of you, it is not-far from irresistible shambling fare, recalling a slowed-down buzzcocks with its unashamed poppiness. longtime favourites the candy darlings also only ever released one 7", "that's where caroline lives", on tea time: the title track, their best, is also here. and the fabulous church grims - well, they didn't even manage a single as far as we can discern, but having recently found the egg 12" "a lighthouse in a desert" and the fine "mr watt said", this cd adds the even better "plaster saint", an effortless marriage of june brides and close lobsters and at least as good as that sounds.

inamongst these  classics are a number of tunes plucked seemingly entirely randomly from an infinite wishlist of anybody who was anybody (or, in many cases, anybody who was nobody) back in the days when thatcher's iron hand was still ruling the land. but while we can be sceptical as to the compilers' midas touch, the tunes mentioned above - are well worth the entrance alone, even since the discovery of every genre under the sun since the first time we heard them.

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