Monday, 31 December 2007

See Eighty Six

1986 and at least the first half of 1987 were a heady whirl of indiepop sunshine yummy fun jangly goodness. Through the 'marvel' of the Royal Mail, I plugged into the mysterious world of fanzines...blimey! there were people out there getting candy coloured pop kicks the same as me. The Legend! raving about The Soup Dragons and Beat Happening and The Primitives, Troutfishing In Leytonstone getting all over-excited and suggesting:

'...the BMX Bandits DESERVE murdering for daring to release e102/sad 12" two months after the 7"'

or going twee-mental over Talulah Gosh:

'oooooh Talulah Gosh this flexi-disc IS the WONDERFULLEST thing all summer...just like that RUSH of excitement when you were six and it was time for the jelly and ice-cream at your birthday party'

Then there was Jump Away! written by Simon Williams who ended up writing for the NME and setting up Fierce Panda records. We met him at an Avons gig in the wee tiny Suffolk market town where we used to spend Saturday nights getting our teenage kicks. Quite odd that he was there as it really was (is) in the middle of nowhere. This is what happened:

'28th March 1987
We all hit swinging Bungay and went in The Fleece for our first half. Then hit The Tuns for a second, it was a bit swirly in there though (‘swirlies’ probably best translates as ‘townies’). So into Charlies where the support band The Sick Shirts (or something???) were playing with Baz on guitar or bass or whatever wearing a v. silly wig. They were ace and rather shambly. When they’d finished we were hanging about outside and found a bloke with bleached hair selling a fanzine called ‘Jump Away’ so bought a copy each ‘cos it had the Mighty Lemon Drops and JAMC and things.

Then, then, The Avons played and we wigged on down. They were marvy, grooving with all the old faves and some kind of countryfied new ones. Yeah, yeah! ‘Is Billy There?’ twangle twangle aceness.
The Avons are hip to the beat in this sorry town, daddio. After they’d finished, we spoke to the fanzine bloke who was called Simon Williams. He lives in London and goes all over the bleedin’ place to see gigs. He’d been to see The Wolfhounds and McCarthy in Norwich last night. He had Soup Dragons badges like mine and a fab Bodines badge. He’s seen Primal Scream only they weren’t that good, so he thinks they should retire ‘cos ‘Velocity Girl’, ‘Crystal Crescent’ and ‘All Fall Down’ were ace but they’ve nowhere left to go (perhaps a little premature with your judgement there, Mr Williams?) We all talked for ages about gigs ‘n’ stuff, although Simon said he’s more interesting when he’s happy, ‘cos tonight he was sad. He didn’t know why, but he could feel the sadness overwhelming him. That’s what happens when you visit Bungay, you know.'

Jump Away!' was less 'ooh spangly popfun!' and more 'here is a semi-political rant piece about the state of indie music', with added photo-stories featuring a shop dummy. There's an entertaining piece in issue 3 entitled 'Flying The Fashionable Flag? The Independent Investigation' that rambles on for several pages randomly ranting about chart pop, indie bands selling out and 'the derisory term of shambling'. Poking a stick at what he described as 'the Subway Sector', Simon summed up the scene thus:

'Puerility! Youth! Vitality! Shortbackandsides blackplimsoles Creation LemonDrops FireStationTowers Subutteo Polkadots Ladybird campvocals SoupDragons brightcolours cuteshirts bashfulsmiles simplisticlyrics Woodentops Trumpton HeadmastersRitual satchels CamberwickGreen love Truck beguile Train brighteyes Tractor escapefromtheharshworld stripeyteeshirts childrenoftheunderworlduniteinsmilinginnocence'

And then we discovered a fellow local Pop Kid when we were sold 'So Naive!' at a gig (possibly The Rosehips??) at Norwich Arts Centre. This was exciting, as indiepop-kids were almost like mythical beings to us, not people we'd actually run into unless we maybe attended one of those iconic gigs we'd heard happened in magical-sounding London venues called things like Chalk Farm Enterprise, Bay 63, Room At The Top. But here was Mike in his stripey tee shirt and chelsea boots (and black jeans, obviously) proffering this indiepop-tastic paper celebration of all the things we loved.

There were only two issues of 'So Naive', the second one possibly even twee-er than the first, e.g:

'Mary Day by The Razorcuts still makes me cry sometimes even after all the times I've heard it. And 'I Heard You The First Time' was simply so so sad and Gregory's voice is just so perfect that The Razorcuts have to be the most ace fabby band in the whole wide world'.

Lordy! No wonder people wanted to throttle the tweesters. Part of the fun of being a pop kid was the fact that it really annoyed people though. Just when we were supposed to be grown up, when our peers were swanning around with perms and stillettoes and discussing diets (and that was just the boys - ho ho), we revelled in growing our fringes into our eyes, wearing anoraks, shaking tamborines, eating Smarties. Not that subversive, but amusing nonetheless. God bless indiepop and the fanzine nation.

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