myles and rupert freak out to this month's lost classic


Some of you may know my attourney and musical supervisor Rupert, who can often be found at HDIF tutting at my poor taste in music and loudly exclaiming "student disco!" whenever I play something that more than two or three people want to dance to.

Rupert has the honour of having the largest indie pop-only record collection in the known world (something like 7000 seven inch singles and who knows how many albums), so I thought it would be interesting to ask him to select one tune each month from his vast array of unheralded classics. A bit like the Great Lost Singles bit of the site in action.

So for those interested in an indie pop education, listen out at 10pm, when I'll be playing Rupert's Record. We'll also archive them here, with words by the man himself.

All reviews written by Rupert Cook

7/11/03 - "Fast Lane" by the Melons
"Fast Lane" by the Melons came out in the mid nineties on the excellent Damaged Goods records.They released a clutch of singles that vanished into the netherworld of indie shop bargain bins, so if there are any left snap them up. Don't let the fact that one of them was a key member of the Fat Tulips stay your hand. Hunt down "From Hell To Helsinki", a song which mentions every capital city in Europe - yes, even Ljubljana. Fact: I drove the singer around Europe for 3 months so she actually visited many of the cities.

21/11/03 - "Look Back In Love (Not In Anger)" by The Yachts
The Yachts sailed out of the ruins of punk, eager to apprehend those whose ears had been offended by the brutalities of the Clash and Sex Pistols. First single, the awkwardly named "Suffice To Say" sounded like a novelty one off, and aptly appeared on Stiff records, home of many a bric-a-brac act. Switching to Radar records, they released the wonderful "Look Back In Love (Not In Anger)", a title for which they should have paid a small sum to John Osborne, kitchen sink dramatist of the 1950's. A tentative keyboard, sounding like a lone coyote whining in a windswept desert, introduces this miniature epic, barely exceeding two minutes in length. The Yachts' sound was all about keyboards, though their use of the instrument was not as heavy-handed as the Human League or Inspiral Carpets, and had they stayed together for another year they might well have flourished in the keyboard dominated era of the 1980's, but they split in 1980 and missed the boat. Henry Priestman, vocalist and keyboardist, was in It's Immaterial and then formed the Christians. By now he probably owns a fleet of yachts.

6/12/03 - "Debbie One" by The Tony Head Experience
Who were the Tony Head Experience? I've no idea but they numbered five and were linked to Somerset. Many years ago at the dawn of the nineties I ventured into the verdant pastures of this cider-drenched county to see the Family Cat play in Yeovil. The Tony Head Experience was the support act, I think,or was that a pigment of my multi-hued imagination? Anyway I bought the single, Debbie One, that night,and good value it was too, three tracks plus a flexi with a further three tracks. Reminiscent of the Primitives, Popguns, Popinjays, any of those femme pop bands beginning with P, Debbie One is an exuberant burst of anguished girlie pop. With a voice like Shirley Temple on acid, singer Elisa Young could terrorize any young man who dared to stray from her sonic embrace. I still tremble when I hear her screech "I want you dead".

19/12/03 - "Harley Davidson" by The Popguns
I blame Bob Stanley. Short of actually dragging a glut of sixties Gallic girls out of retirement and dolling them up in fin de siecle aural couture in a bid to bulldoze the prevailing cynicism of the nineties, he did the next best thing and gave the world St.Etienne. Much
impact that had - Britney still hasn't covered Poupee De Cire Poupee De Son. But, maybe due to Bob, the Popguns revved up Brigitte Bardot's Harley Davidson, a song written by that scourge of decency Serge Gainsbourg. More strident musically than the original, it conjures up visions of Wendy Morgan, the Popguns' singer, speeding through those French villages that always seem to be closed, astride her Harley. When Bardot sings, the only ignition she seems concerned with is the one that turns on the male libido - you picture her pouting and writhing playfully on her Harley, not a kilometre registering on the speedo.Which do I prefer? The original because I'm a sucker for a French accent.

16/1/04 - "Keeping The Sparks" by Waxwings
While scrabbling through my extensive record collection for indie perfection, dust flying as I disturbed long forgotten Disco Zombies singles, I suddenly though 'hey let's leave the past behind'. So wiping my dust-coated eyes I turned to the new century. Waxwings flew into my consciousness with their immaculate power pop classic "Keeping The Sparks", a song that leaves me in ecstatic disarray.
Crisp drums announce this slice of arrogant pop genius. Come the one line chorus and an acoustic guitar interrupts, the ghost of Nick Drake has breezed into the studio, but only briefly, bustled out suddenly by fierce drums; Waxwings soar again,pushing the song to its reflective climax, in which Drake returns accompanied by honey-drenched harmonies. One play is not enough, play again to fully appreciate.

20/2/04 - "Keep An Open Mind Or Else" by McCarthy
Political pop didn't exactly clot up the charts in the 1980's.There was the Redskins, and there was the Housemartins who sugared their socialist outbursts by draping them in jaunty tunes. McCarthy, named after senator McCarthy maybe, that commie-crunching, cowboy-loving paranoiac of the 1950's, were exponents of left wing views similar to the Gang Of 4 in content if not in style. Malcolm Eden has an angelic voice that could grace a choir, albeit the Red Army one. 'Keep An Open Mind Or Else', great title, was released near the end of their career. Tim Gane, McCarthy's jangly guitarist, would go on to form indie darlings Stereolab. For those who love Stereolab, please investigate McCarthy. You won't be disappointed.

19/3/04 - "Happy Bicycle" by Choo Choo Train
Ric Menck has spread his talents over a number of projects: Paint Set, Springfields, BagO'Shells, Velvet Crush and Choo Choo Train. Many of these incarnations can be found on the estimable Bus Stop record label, America's equivalent to England's Sarah records.Whatever name he works under the results are similar. Summery sounds which hurry bees to pollinate and entice hibernating hedgehogs from the lairs. Listen and you'll hear the Byrds, Big Star and the Raspberries all tucked up together in one three minute
blazing pop burst. Guaranteed to make the most curmudgeonly soul donate his cardigan collection to the nearest charity superstore.

16/04/04 - "The Medium Was Tedium" by Desperate Bicycles
1977, year zero, for me anyway, for that's when music coaxed me into a life of underachievement.The Desperate Bicycles encouraged my fall from grace as school grades plummeted, and I would argue they are as important as the Sex Pistols. Not an argument I'd win but it would be a pleasant way to pass the time. They may have kept their gob to themselves but their records oozed punk snot; eschewing punk's raw bilious yell made them all the more plangent. The Pistols wanted you to destroy society, the Bikes wanted you to start your own band. It's obvious which makes the more sense. As the rallying cry in the song says "It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it." So go on, go and form a band, make a record, I'm waiting for you to entertain me.

30/4/04 - "Don't Send Me Flowers" by Twa Toots
Sometimes my indie radar fails. These girlie scamps from somewhere in the region of Kent were introduced to me by the lovely Kathryn,queen of twee. They entered the indie arena some twenty years ago, their opening shot at immortality a mini LP on Crystal Clear records. Peel loved them and they recorded a session for him. 'Don't Send Me Flowers' finds them at their most self-assured, it was released in 1991, but like all their output it wilted into obscurity. Find the compilation on Accident if you can and enjoy them in all their incarnations; for example 'Addicted' sounds like a hybrid of 'Last Night A DJ Saved My Life' and a Chic B side. And that should be sufficient to tempt you.

21/5/04 - "Run For Your Life" by Lara And The Trailers
How do you picture those anonymous types who put together compilations? I see them as assiduous sorts clambering over mountains of vinyl possessed of an intemperate desire to unearth forgotten gems.I don't know what I'd do without compilations. Collections of French sixties pop, the songs of Macaulay and Macleod, the Leamington Spa, Nuggets, Rubble and Pebbles series all languish in my living room, as does Girls in the Garage volume nine from which was culled this cover of the Beatles' 'Run For Your Life'. The cynical lyrics of the original are rendered unintelligible unless you understand whatever Oriental language Lara is singing in. No,I haven't researched this very well. Lara's innocent girl-in-knee-socks voice inverts the vengeful nastiness of Lennon's words, the venom and misogyny of the original is neutralized and re-appropriated. What remains is bubblegum pop, unless you understand the language, of course.

4/6/04 - "Peace Of Mind" by Ocean Blue
Get yourself an open top car. Steal one if necessary. Well ok, you're a timid soul, so borrow a pushbike and cycle around the UK's rim with Ocean Blue's Beneath The Rhythm And Sound on your Walkman. It may rain, it may hail, it may rain fish in the most obscure parts of Scotland, but you will be impervious for you will be sheathed in a warm Californian sun; which would be a little spurious as the Ocean Blue come from Pennsylvania, but hey, wouldn't you rather be transported to California? Peace Of Mind, the opening track from the aforementioned LP, is like being gently caressed by chocolate gilded waves, oh that sweet tooth of mine. Ocean Blue have been around since the late 1980's and you should be asking yourself why you haven't got any of their five LP's. Two of them are essential but I'm not revealing which ones. Well,duh, if you've been paying attention you'll know one already. Also on a personal note, this track is very special to me as it brought someone close to me a shade closer. I owe Ocean Blue a Pacific-sized thank you.

18/6/04 - "Save It For The Weekend" by Acid House Kings
There must be something in the moose.......from the garden of Sweden has emerged some great pop music ever since Abba donned their satin and tat. Formed in 1991 from members of Poprace, Starlet, Club 8 and Red Sleeping Beauty, the Acid House Kings are not as drugged up as their name suggests. Don't fret indie kids, no need to hug your Smiths/ Morrissey records in fear of impending
sonic terror, there is no acid house tinge to their glittering pop sound. They could almost be an offshoot of the Smiths albeit one with a healthier attitude to the vicissitudes of life. You see, despite living next door to the morose Finns, the Swedes are a happy people. At least that's the impression one gets listening to this pop gem.

16/7/04 - "Stop! Your Crying" by Chin Chin
Slithering down the continent from Sweden I come to Switzerland. Orson Welles famously said that in 500 years the only thing Switzerland gave the world was the cuckoo clock. What about chocolate Mr.Welles, the Swiss make some of the finest in the world, and what about Chin Chin? Granted Orson made the quote nearly 40 years before Chin Chin released their one record on 53 & 1/3 but I thought geniuses were forward thinking. These three Swiss girls display so much vitality and energy you could imagine them
using their guitars to garrotte mountains. No more Heidis, these girls are prototype Courtney Loves, but much better.

20/8/04 - "I Want You" by Summerhill
Summerhill gently brushed the indie index with this track that barely masks their real desire, making bog standard country rock yet shrinking from fully embracing either genre. Released in 1988, not a drop of water from the C86 pebble that made a tiny splash in rock's pool touched these boys. Constrained by competence and solemnity this one song is where they find a tune and run with it, and are almost touched by happiness in the process. They made an LP but I was never foolhardy enough to buy it.

3/9/04 - "Crestfallen" by Chairs
Sit back and relax whilst I tell you about the Chairs. Resisting the thrum of the dance beat that pervaded much late eighties indie, the Chairs released four singles steeped in glittering guitar pop influenced by the Smiths and Elvis Costello. Indeed the latter enthused over their third single, Honey I Need A Girl Of A Different Stripe on Radio 1, but despite this honoured approbation it failed to ascend the chart ladder. Crestfallen was their final fling at stardom but, snappy hooks notwithstanding, it too found no way to wend its way into the public consciousness. Hunt down the single and succumb too to the excellent B side, a scathing attack on Thatcher's Britain, which like all their product doesn't deserve to languish in the tattered upholstery of history.

17/9/04 - "Talk To Me" by Bollweevils
The thundering hooves of the hangover horses, once the emaciated steeds of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, were ricocheting like ten ton billiard balls around my throbbing cranium. Eschewing pharmaceutical quackery I attempted to heal myself with a musical panacea and dosed myself with a perky pop tune constructed by this foursome from Sheffield. The singer's voice has the clarity of an
icy Himalayan mountain stream, a balm to blast the wooly membrane that a surfeit of alcohol had wrapped around my skull. Under a star-stippled sky I rose from the gutter, adjusted my Walkman and zigzagged to the bus stop. Any bus stop.

1/10/04 - "Prams" by Vital Disorders
We had a good time in the eighties, we really did. Unemployment, strikes, kids inculcated with the Thatcher mantra of making money which depoliticized many a youth of the nineties. Now we are hampered by hypocrisy and the dissenting voices are growing. Revolution, however minor, revives art; it happened in the fifties and sixties when teenagers rebelled against the staidness of post war England, and again in the bleak mid seventies when youth decried the pre-packaged future on offer. Fashion, music and literature are never healthier than when faced with intransigence.
  In 1981 the post punk landscape was a quagmire of sudden record labels that spewed out one or two fiery musical manifestos before vanishing. Lowther International was one, home to the Vital Disorders. The Prams EP contains three slices of political pop, domestic and general. Prams is a scream of feminist outrage, of how women can have their dreams ruptured, trapped by the drudgery of daily life, forever attuned to the omnipotent cry of the tyrannical toddler, its every yowl drowning out their sinking ambitions. The chorus is sung with increasing anger, a jubilee of vituperation, as the song progresses until you can almost feel the phlegm hit your face. Listen with a handkerchief to hand.

19/11/04 - "Sunshine Thuggery" by The Siddeleys
Not a celebration of those bloodthirsty bank holidays when mods and rockers met to pulverize one another. Just another lovelorn anthem. Imagine being caught in a romantic fever in the shabby scabby coastal last resort of Southend. Stumble along the length of the pier, embracing emptiness, as the aroma of vinegar-blanched newspapers punctures your nostrils. See the urine coloured lights glow, throwing out their listless cheer, and surrender to the sting of unrequited love. In a barbed wire whirl of obsession and desire imagine the choppy wintry waters leaving a greasy watermark on your forehead. Slumped against the fish and chip hut you watch the miniature pier train approach and you enact a mock suicide and stub your toe on the railway line. In the morning you have a large purple bruise on your big toe and you feel smugly chastened by love.

3/12/04 - "Cold Inside" by Remember Fun
Remember Fun are one of those warm-hearted bands that sucessfully distill the yearnings and disappointments, the sight of a sleepy sun waking up from its winter sojourn, stir in a young man's heart as some unobtainable beauty saunters by, her cold eye dismissing a fretful glance from an inept music geek. Back home then, to spin and whirl in unloved abandon to these trammelled souls, in solicitous concord with that unsatisfied ache that wrinkles the ventricles of the heart. Pasty-faced and pigtailed indie girls come out to play and ease the torment and lacerations of these gentle songs.

21/1/05 - "All I Need" by Big Red Bus
Coming from the North West, this lot had the audacity to offload an LP and two singles upon a slumbering public. In 1993 the wheels came off this bus and the conductor jumped ship but let their slim legacy find a route to your heart, barring the last single which sounds like they sat in a Petri dish for a month hoping to grow into The Happy Mondays. Instead they mutated into a lumpy Soup Dragons. Avoid the above, but do seek out the single, LP and The Sound of Leamington Spa Vol. 1 (you should, of course, own every volume by now!) and let them torpedo your misery goats and send you skipping down the road aglow with rosy-cheeked joie de vivre.

All reviews written by Rupert Cook