This project is converted into two mixes, purposely, so that it can be copied to an 80-minute CD-R.
PART ONE - 30 through 15
Originally I'd planned to mix up a Festive 50 ala Peel with many of these tracks alongside some Yuletide greats... I think this is way better; it focuses on just the songs that all mean so much across the years... this is even more poignant when I take the fact that many of my favourite bands don't appear here; there are no FIELD MICE, PIXIES, WEDDING PRESENT, SONIC YOUTH, THE FALL - even THE SMITHS who took over my life for a few years in the eighties don't get in!
The end result that showcase such great diversity in the alternative music scene then and now also led me to retrieve many of the original picture sleeves of either albums or singles that are now long-lost.
The journey begins with a band that I only heard once on one of Peel's shows around the early 1980's, a band called DARKNESS AND JIVE, the track being "Rage In A Cage"...I was able to download this song from their website and the image above is their header!
29. "Drank"... BIVOUAC
BIVOUAC (apparently) hail from Derby and in the nineties I had this compilation album on vinyl with this song called "Drank"...
then it went AWOL because I lost the cassette it had been recorded on... so much of this material being retrieved is thanks to the internet, whether through download or being able to access information... I eventually found the the CD available on Amazon and have to say that I thought the album was complete trash apart from this one stand-alone track!
27."Popular"... NADA SURF
This song is all about popularity in the freshman years and has a pretty neat video too, it's likely on YouTube like virtually everything else. This comes from their album "High/Low" and while I know the band have made many other albums, I have to admit I've never bothered to sample any of them.
26. "Tangiers"... THE SCREAMING TREES
25. "Curtain Call"... THE DAMNED
This is very much a masterpiece and comes from the band's BLACK ALBUM; somewhat famously, John Peel played the whole of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells LP the first time round (however long that lasted)and with this being some seventeen minutes long, it wasn't much of an issue really - why dock anything so fabulous? So the song appears here in it's full glory. It's a journey that ebbs and flows and has some delicious piano harmony and vocals within before it's ultimate refrain.
24. "Singer's Hampstead Home"... MICRODISNEY
23. "Hope's Not Enough Son, Ask Your Parents"...GREAT LEAP FORWARD
The Great Leap Forward is a “band” formed in 1987 by former BIG FLAME singer and bassist Alan Brown when that band came to its planned and logical end in 1986.
This refreshing track deals with the onset of puberty and offers a cynical forecast of things to come. I always thought their sound was akin to THE WEDDING PRESENT but nonetheless, this song I like a lot, hence it's appearance here.
The Great Leap Forward was and still is essentially a solo project, with Alan writing, arranging and performing virtually all instruments on recordings, and carrying out mixing and production in the studio (in conjunction with John Crossley at SquareDance Studios(Nottingham/Derby) for the majority of the pre-1990 releases and in 2008 with Anthony Chapman (inFX Studios) for Finished Unfinished Business.
22. "To The Flame"... AMUSEMENT PARKS ON FIRE
Amusement Parks on Fire are an English band from Nottingham. The band was formed by Michael Feerick in 2004, who wrote and performed their self-titled debut album entirely by himself.
The band has since expanded and now write and perform as a five-piece currently composed of
Daniel Knowles [ guitar ~ production ]
Peter Dale [ drums ]
Gavin Poole [ bass ]
Joe Hardy [ keyboard ] and
Michael Feerick [ guitar ~ vocals ]
Feerick wrote and recorded ten songs on a minimal budget with close friend Daniel Knowles engineering the sessions. These efforts formed Amusement Parks on Fire’s self-titled debut album released in the UK on INVADA Records, a label run by Geoff Barrow of Portishead in 2005.
The band signed to V2 Records in 2005 and went on to record their second studio album Out of the Angeles at Sigur Rós’ Sundlaugin studio in Álafoss, Iceland.
I've had this song set as my ring-tone for a while now!
21. "Blood Meridian"... HOPE OF THE STATES
The band formed in 2000, naming themselves after a 1930s paper on the state of mental healthcarein the US. They were discovered after sending a demo to the Planet Sound teletext page, and were signed to SONY BMG. The band's guitarist James Lawrence committed suicide in January 2004, shortly before the release of their first album, THE LOST RIOTS, which reached the top forty in the UK album chart. The band's first single, "Black Dollar Bills", was packaged in a hessian sleeve, each hand-sewn by a band member. The band's most extensive UK tour started in October 2004, beginning with a date in Belfast's Mandela Hall.
Much of 2005 was spent recording the follow-up to THE LOST RIOTS, and the band only made six live appearances. The band performed some songs to be included on their second album at an acoustic performance in London. The band worked with fansite "The Halfway Home" to produce an advent calendar for Christmas 2005. The only studio recording released in 2005 was the track 'Shalom', included as Day 24 on the calendar.
In April 2006 the band released a new EP, Blood Meridian, accompanied by a low-key UK tour beginning in The Cockpit in Leeds. The EP was limited to 2000 copies, available on vinyl, and was also available for download. The single "Sing it Out" was released in June 2006, reaching #39 in the UK singles chart, and their second album LEFT followed on 19 June.
The band appeared at T In The Park on 8 July, and then the Reading and Leeds festivals in August, where they played on the BBC Radio 1/NME stage. During their set on 27 August at Reading, it emerged it may be their last ever show as the band were splitting up. This was suggested further later in the day by friends Broken Social Scene who dedicated their festival set to the band. On 30 August, Sam Herlihy made a statement on the band's forum confirming the split and that Reading was their last show.
Some members of the band have gone on to form THE NORTHWESTERN.
20. "Gathering Dust"... MODERN ENGLISH
MODERN ENGLISH were uniquely placed in the late '70s and early '80s as a band who forged a relationship with practically all the emerging British musical styles - post-punk, New Wave, synthesizer pop, New Romantic, Goth, neo-pyschedelia and the so-called Second Wave of UK pop which invaded America in '82 and '83. Their alluringly anthemic music drew inspiration - however abstract or oblique - from these starkly contrasting worlds, rapidly attaining critical and commercial success with the After The Snow album which, with its intricate and gloriously uplifting sound, achieved a cinematic sense of space way beyond the reach of most of their contemporaries.
19. "Suspension"... MAE
18. "Duel"... SWERVEDRIVER
Swervedriver are an English alternative rock band from Oxford. The band went on hiatus in 1998 before reforming in 2008 for a world tour, which included a performance at the high-profile Coachella festival. Their first three albums were also reissued in 2008/2009.
I have never owned a SWERVEDRIVER single or album. I discovered this song "Duel" on a Creation Records compilation that also featured Primal Scream and Teenage Fanclub.
17. "The Breaking Hands"...
THE GUN CLUB
16. "Your Feet Never Touch The Ground"...
I had this album that I kind of wore out playing, it was called "Somebody Up There Likes Me" and I liked the songs "Oh!" and "Teenage" but particularly this one... "Your Feet Never Touch The Ground"... it's a bouncy, hopeful tune and there's just something about the brass and the trumpet fanfare at the end that makes this, for me, a very special record indeed.
The Brilliant Corners hailed from Bristol & lasted a decade, 1983-93, the pillar to post members being Davey Woodward (singer/guitarist/writer), Chris Galvin (bass) & Bob Morris (drums). Various members helped complete the line-up along the way, most notably being Winston Forbes (guitar) who was there at the start & Dan Pacini (trumpet).
15. "Longing For Next Year"... SINISTER CLEANERS
The Sinister Cleaners are Len Liggins, John Parkes, Andrew Middleton and Simon Smith. Originally formed as a trio with a 606 drum machine in 1983, Simon joined as drummer in 1985.
The band was inactive as a unit from 1988, but recently got back together again to record some new material and release the album Shine on AAZ Records (AAZCD12).
The band released several records on the AAZ label beginning with two tracks on the Giraffe in Flames compilation album in 1983. Over the next couple of years they featured on other compilations, both tape and vinyl, before releasing their first double A-side single in March ’85 – The Gnomes of Zurich / The Architect.
Three multiple-track 12” EPs (Lemon Meringue Bedsit, Goodbye Ms Jones and Longing for Next Year) were released in 1986-87.
If you saw the Cleaners you’ll remember the rotation system – Len, John and Andrew shared song-writing, lead vocals, guitar and bass playing with unscrupulous democratic even-handedness. By 1987 The Sinister Cleaners were gigging regularly in Europe and storming stages in venues like the Loft in Berlin, The Flesh Temple near Eindhoven and of course clubs at home like the 1 in 12 in Bradford and the Duchess in Leeds.
PART TWO - 14 through 1
14. "Tom" - CODEINE - The White Birch
There are a few things in this world I'm pretty sure of. One of them is that, in a "Survivor"-like desert island competition between Mogwai and fellow crescendo-rockers Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Mogwai would be taking home the grand prize. While Godspeed's Efrim Menuck would spend his time trying desperately to craft cigarettes out of coconut shells, picking bugs out of his beard, and figuring out a way to fabricate cellophane in which to bury the dead, Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite would be busy sabotaging the enemy camp, starting bonfires, and dancing naked under the light of the moon.
12. "Dean's Eleventh Dream"...THE JAMES DEAN DRIVING EXPERIENCE
James Dean Driving Experience are one of the many awesome English 80's indiepoppers. They got together around 87 and broke up in 90 but left in their wake some really really good tunes. They play a dreamy starry style of jangle pop but have a sense of humo(u)r about them (just look at the name!) They play up tempo "C86" style that bands like Close Lobsters and Sea Urchins play. This is band is just sooo dreamy from the record covers with old movie starlets to the violin. My favorite song of theirs is the slow-fast-slow anti-love song "Drop Dead Darling."
11. "Cling Film" - THE SEA URCHINS
4AD's sole addition to the roster in 1988 was Ultra Vivid Scene, an alias for New York dreampop auteur Kurt Ralske, whose music successfully melded The Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine and '60s psychedelia. Ultra Vivid scene debuted with the single "She Screamed", which was soon followed by a self-titled album.
In 1989, Kurt released a 12" featuring a newly recorded version of "Mercy Seat" from the debut album. Later in the year came "Something To Eat": a work-in-progresss, promotional single, and one of the very few 4AD promos to be assigned a regular catalogue number. As it turned out, "Something To Eat" never made it onto any other release.
Ivo suggested Kurt team up with producer Hugh Jones for the second Ultra Vivid Scene album. The result was Joy 1967-1990, a veritable encyclopedia of pop possibility that highlighted Ralske's knack for couching lyrical misanthropy in supremely catchy songs. The album spawned two singles, "Staring At The Sun" and "Special One", the latter a duet with Kim Deal that was accompanied by a wonderful video which saw Kurt and Kim crooning the song like Sonny & Cher.
1992's Rev was a different entity to its carefully-honed predecessors. Recording as part of a three-piece rock band, Kurt kicked out the jams on a series of lengthy tracks dominated by his searing guitar leads. Despite what seemed like a promising new direction, Rev proved to be the final Ultra Vivid Scene album. Kurt subsequently concentrated on production, before returning with a new project, Cathars, in 1999. Ultra Vivid Scene's final release was the Blood And Thunder EP, featuring a single remix of the title song (drastically shortened from it's 10 minute running time on the Rev album) and three other tracks, including a superb rendition of John Cale's "Winter Song".9. "Random Relations" - JOE PUBLIK
Bullshit Detector was the name of a series of compilation LPs put together by the Anarcho-punk band Crass and released on their Crass Records label. Three editions were released between 1980 and 1984, consisting of demo tapes, rough recordings and artwork that had been sent to the band. The sound quality of the Bullshit Detector series was mixed, and was often very basic or poor as Crass would master the tapes directly to record without any additional production or enhancement. For Crass, the expectation of a polished performance was missing the point of the DIY punk ethic:
When I first heard this, the group were called THE SUSPECTS and this modernized version has some obvious differences in the lyrics; "You can't afford to do a lot on fifteen quid a week" has now become thirty-five quid is one example, however, the added guitars and reggae fusion works well and this version can also be found on YouTube...
8. "Ghosts Of American Astronauts" -
Yet another classic, again available on video AND on this website (if you care to check the video section), a great song and those memorable lines such as the opening gambit... "Over the hills above Bradford, outside the napalm factory"...
7. "In Shreds" - THE CHAMELEONS
6. "Tell Me How It Feels" - THE SWEETEST ACHE
Submarine alternated introspective indie-rock with noisy psychedelic jams; to the former quality was oft associated the term 'shoegazing'. They released their self-titled debut album in 1994; Keith Cleversley (of Flaming Lips fame) produced it for Ultimate. A second album, also recorded with Cleversley, was turned down by the label & later released on Taky Recordings, nearly 10 years later. Kiss Me Till Your Ears Burn Off, a compilation of singles and B-sides, was released on the Fantastick Records label.
This track is special to me for the lyrics and also the fact that where I'm unsure of one or two words, I'm still unable to locate the lyrics anywhere on the web!
4. "Sennen" - RIDE
3. "Like One Thousand Violins" - 1,000 VIOLINS
2. "Black Metallic" - CATHERINE WHEEL
Catherine Wheel were formed in 1990 and are probably best described (during their early days) as shoegaze-oriented indie-rock with a supreme ear for melody and an uncharacteristically (for the genre) strong and present vocalist in Rob Dickinson.
Despite being pigeonholed with other bands of this sub-genre such as My Bloody Valentine, they probably owed more to the reto-indie groups of the time such as House of Love. Certainly they were more of a straightforward rock outfit from this point of view, although they were still an original band.They brought out their first album "Ferment" in 1992. This, along with "Chrome" from 1993 rates as their best work. The album features shimmering, beautiful indie guitar music which still doesn't sound dated today, although it doesn't have the despondent plod of say, Travis or Coldplay. Catherine Wheel are certainly thoughtful and can be melancholic, but to me they are also a very uplifiting band, and their majestic, soaring music certainly made their fans happy.
1. "Mauritia Mayer" - SEX GANG CHILDREN
The name 'Sex Gang Children' was a dynamic tag dreamt up and discarded by Malcolm McLaren in favour of 'Bow Wow Wow'. It then passed to Boy George, who used it until he signed to Virgin and came over all consumer-friendly as Culture Club. Aware of its pedigree, a fledgling band called Panic Button grabbed the baton and decked themselves out in appropriate fetish-punk garb. Decadent and furious, the Sex Gang Children proceeded to revitalize punk in the early 80s. '
It was Panic Button vocalist Andi Sex Gang and bass player Dave Roberts who formed the new group, enlisting Terry McLeay (guitar) and Rob Stroud (drums). Their timing was immaculate: punk-pop bands such as Theatre of Hate and Wasted Youth were beginning to falter, and the post-Adam and the Ants audience to fracture. Sex Gang Children stepped into the void and became big on the scene very quickly, releasing Naked (1982), an acclaimed, cassette-only live album.
A prestigious Futurama festival appearance coincided with the Sex Gang Children's first vinyl record, Beasts/, an EP consisting of four reworked tracks from Naked and the macabre title track. This and the follow-up single, "Into The Abyss" (1982), both hovered in the higher echelons of the UK indie charts for months.
1983 saw release of a debut album, Song & Legend, which shot to the top of the indie charts along with its accompanying single, "Sebastianne". At the same time, Dave Roberts put together The Whip, a compilation album including a fine duet between Andi and Marc Almond entitled "The Hungry Years". The accumulated pressure of this workload came to a head when, on the first date of a tour to promote Song & Legend, Stroud failed to appear.
The difficulties of Stroud's untimely departure were exacerbated when the band's label, Iliuminated, declined to extend their deal and a major label withdrew an offer after Sex Gang Children refused to abbreviate their name. Ex- Theatre of Hate drummer Nigel Preston filled in for a one-off single with Clay Records -the captivating "Mauritia Mayer" -before joining Death Cult. For their first American tour Sex Gang engaged Death Cult's former drummer, Ray Mondo, who culminated an eventful affair by getting himself deported to his native Sierra Leone upon their return to England.
The turbulent year of 1983 ended with Dave Roberts leaving to form another (you'll never make it with that name) band, Car Crash International. This signalled the end of the Sex Gang group, though a cassette of their final US concert was released under the title Ecstasy And Vendetta Over New York on the back of favourable notices they'd attracted in the States.
Andi and Terry carried on a while with new bassist Cam Campbell and drummer Kevin Matthews before Andi too went solo, releasing two albums under the name Andi Sex Gang. Dave Roberts responded by forming a group called The Children, while Terry lent his guitar virtuosity to all manner of unsuccessful projects. However, in 1991 Receiver Records put out a compilation CD, The Hungry Years: The Best Of Sex Gang Children, and it caused enough of a stir for Andi and Dave to reconcile and reconvene the group in Los Angeles.