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This review is from: C86 (Audio CD)
If I could write and perform a song today, I'd release it on seven inch vinyl in a wraparound sleeve. With insert. And sticker. Not that all of the bands on this compilation did, but that independent ethic, where the whole package mattered, ran strong throughout.
C86 became a tag synonymous with the bands on these three discs and their loosely connected scene. Especially so with many of them who would also be described as twee. In fact two of the "twee-est", Talulah Gosh and The Chesterfields, weren't even on the original cassette. But twee was of course a simplistic description as there was always, to borrow from a McCarthy track, a knife between the teeth of these groups. On first listen to this collection in '86/ '87 (together with the first couple of Melody Maker Indie Top 20 tapes) I fell wholeheartedly for the tunes and harmonies. Years later I've still got the piles of vinyl to prove it, from the Soup Dragons to Mighty Mighty, from Miaow to The Close Lobsters, I spent weekends searching second hand vinyl racks across the country and mail ordering. And not forgetting from Talulah Gosh to The Chesterfields. I was hungry for it all.
So this variety of tunes formed the basis of my, and probably many others, record collection and musical taste. I can hardly imagine not having listened to the wonderful Breaking Lines by The Pastels (incidentally the only track with a differing version to the original release) or Velocity Girl by Primal Scream. Iconic tracks which surely show it was much more than "twee" or "shambling" or, well even "indie" for that matter, with all the connotations that would later take on.
But listening some 28 years later the tunes that excite me almost even more are the more angular ones. For all the presence of bands on labels such as Creation, Subway, 53rd and 3rd or Chapter 22, surely recognition must be given to the mighty Ron Johnson, of which a wonderfully disproportionate number from their stable are represented here. A Witness, Stump and The Shrubs all recorded for the label, along with Big Flame and MacKenzies. And as if that wasn't enough we get the Noseflutes on disc 3. In many ways the magnificent dischord and chaos of these songs show a real independence of spirit. The full force of these is fantastic to hear all these years on. And along with the energy of Bogshed, (a band I would dearly love to see reissued) you know you've made the right choice in buying this set.
I struggle to mention favourite songs as I'm so familiar with them all, but apart from the bands I've already mentioned its great to hear early Wedding Present and Half Man Half Biscuit, both of whom have produced a wide variety of music and are still going strong. I've also always been a fan of The Groove Farm, Yeah Yeah Noh, The Razorcuts, 14 Iced Bears and Benny Profane. Not to forget The Hit Parade. But with such a number of songs, everyone will have their own preferences.
I can't say I love all of the additional songs on disc 2 and 3, and some of them do sound a bit dated and "samey", but it is a compilation, and for the number of tunes you will like, overall great value. And for disc 1 at least 6 stars are due.
So if you're looking for a nostalgic review of your past, or a starting point for indie music in the mid 80s, this is a great collection. And if you're hearing these for the first time be warned, you'll be hunting down more by these bands, which will lead you on to Sarah Records, late 80s and 90s indie scene, back to punk, The Byrds, psychedelia. Your quest will never end. Have fun.