C86 Box set, Deluxe Edition
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Back in May/June 1986, the New Musical Express released one of their regular mail-order cassettes. Reflecting the latest trends in Indie music, C86 was a 22-track cassette which was inspired by the NMEs C81 tape from half a decade earlier. Aside from a few name bands (The Pastels, Primal Scream, the Wedding Present, the Mighty Lemon Drops), most acts were relatively unknown beyond the back pages and gig listings of the weekly music press. A few hadnt even issued a record! C86 slowly but surely became the NME's best-selling ever compilation, selling an estimated 40,000 copies and eventually being reissued on LP and cassette by Rough Trade the following year. C86 prompted a week of shows at the ICA and would come to embody a whole musical style and era. This deluxe expanded edition of the original C86 cassette adds some 50 bonus tracks. The box set is curated by original compiler Neil Taylor and has the endorsement of the NME. Neil has chosen tracks which could conceivably have been on the original C86 package: all the recordings were made between mid-1985 and mid-1986. Neil wrote about many of the bands at the time.
Top Customer Reviews
This one took on a life of its own at the time, and still has a special place for those of us into the music of the time.
The original tracks are all here, from the cassette and later vinyl issue, but this is expanded out to a three CD set which allows many other excellent bands to be added to the snapshot of the time. Critics will point out that some of the selections aren't perhaps what we might choose if there were no licencing restrictions. Others will insist much of the content is twee and lightweight. Both are arguably true, but the C86 period wasn't really just about the music, but was the time when the indie scene took the promise first generated by punk and grew it into lots of small labels and cottage industries. It only lasted for a few years at most, but it was a fantastic time, when virtually every concert turned up a gem, and the fanzines and their flexi-disc offerings gave a genuine new take on what was around. It can probably never happen again, what with the internet and all it's media offerings, but I still look back on it fondly, and this reminds me that it isn't just rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia - there are some real gems here.
72 tracks with a wide variety of sounds, all packaged in a nicely fitting cardboard box with a superb booklet.
Cherry Red are the kings of this, and this is one of their best.
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.Read more ›
It seems to have subsequently created it's own genre and i would previously have said that would be 'indie guitar jangle pop/rock' but listening to Disc 1 again (which is the same track listing as the original cassette) it's obvious i was a little blinkered in my analysis as although a lot of the bands do fall into that category, many done not e.g Stump, MacKenzies, Age Of Chance & A Witness.
As it now comes on 3 CDs with 72 tracks it's certainly a bargain but for most of us who were there at the time i imagine it will be more enjoyable for the nostalgia value, although i still find myself enjoying listening to at least 50% of it, if not more.
Some surprisingly good bands that passed me by first time around are Yeah Yeah No, Go! Service and The Enormous Room.
It comes with a massive booklet full of historical facts and colour photos but one very minor niggle is that the box won't close properly once the booklet has been read!!
By no means perfect of course (nothing with so many tracks could be) but as an historical document of the music of that year (and subsequent ones) it's just priceless.
With C86, I didn't need glossy pop, I got guitars! Bands brought out colourful 3 minute pop songs on labels I'd never heard of. This collection is a hit and miss affair with some classics (Wedding Present, Bodines, Soup Dragons) and some songs I've not heard for years. Though it wasn't a movement, major labels soon moved in and diluted the rough production and tried to make pop stars of them.
So with the death of record shops and downloads taking over how we purchase music, I'm glad to see the DIY ethic still visible. Bands like Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Young Romance, Allo Darling have obviously been influenced by C86.
Go on dig out your 7"s and listen to the snap, crackle and indie pop!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent repackaging and with piles more stuff,originally a Cassette release,later released on Lp in the 1980's expanded with similar music,to a 3 cd box set.Published 6 months ago by Mr. D. I. Longstaff
What a shame!
I'd remembered this as a terrific compilation. My old casette is unplayable so I decided a refresh was called for. Read more
Being a fan of this genre I was amazed to have never come across this before! Fantastic in a word. The majority of tracks are excellent only the odd few not quite up to the mark. Read morePublished 14 months ago by John Thornton
Was delivered in super speedy time and brought back so nostalgic memories. Great CD and would recommend.Published 23 months ago by Molly Benson