The Primitives – Secrets

In this time of self-isolation and social distancing, you could almost experience what it was like to be a goth in the 80s.  So I thought I would throw some obscure feelgood classics indie at you.  Tracy Tracy (so good they named her twice) lead singer in The Primitives was an indie heartthrob before Toni Halliday, Rachel Goswell, and Louise Trehy.

The Primitives : Secrets

Almost Touched You
Secrets (Demo)


Various Artists – C86

Such is the reverence for this 22 track compilation, when it arrived it was the most indie thing that had ever happened.  It is the benchmark in twee, jangly, indiepop and would be namechecked for decades, it basically launched indie.  Listening to the compilation it is not all twee sugary jangle, Half Man Half Biscuit’s I Hate Nerys Hughes (From the Heart) is a fun-filled caustic tune, and where are the dreamy melodies in the MacKenzies Big Jim (There’s No Pubs in Heaven) the instruments are detuned creating and offbeat disturbing sound.

Listening to C86 I find myself thinking there must be a song on here by The Railway Children or Talulah Gosh but there isn’t but the compilation must have influenced them hugely.  In the 90s before the internet took off, there were very few copies of C86 available and the majority of indiekids such as myself had never heard the album, but it was so revered and so unattainable, that this added to its mystique.

My favourite song is The Bodines Therese, this was a staple the indie disco I used to go to in Bournemouth even though it was 94 this song was still played.

Various Artists : C86

Primal Scream Velocity Girl
The Mighty Lemon – Drops Happy Head
The Soup Dragons – Pleasantly Surprised
The Wolfhounds – Feeling So Strange Again
The Bodines – Therese
Mighty Mighty – Law
Stump – Buffalo
Bogshed – Run To The Temple
A Witness – Sharpened Sticks
The Pastels – Breaking Lines
The Age Of Chance – From Now On, This Will Be Your God
Shop Assistants – It’s Up To You
Close Lobsters – Firestation Towers
Miaow – Sport Most Royal
Half Man Half Biscuit – I Hate Nerys Hughes (From The Heart)
The Servants – Transparent
MacKenzies – Big Jim (There’s No Pubs In Heaven)
Big Flame – New Way (Quick Wash And Brush Up With Liberation Theology)
We’ve Got A Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna Use It – Console Me
McCarthy – Celestial City
The Shrubs – Bullfighter’s Bones
The Wedding Present – This Boy Can Wait (A Bit Longer!)



Slowdive – Hide Yer Eyes

This bootleg captures Slowdive between Just For Today and Souvlaki albums and was supposed to be released as an album called I Saw The Sun.  The album was released “unofficially”, by Alti Philosophi Records based out of Germany. Most of the songs appear on the Souvlaki Demos & Outtakes, and only Dagger appears on Souvlaki.

The mastering is pretty rough which is fine if you are a new wave or punk outfit but you need subtly with shoegaze.  If there are any master tapes a good clean up could work wonders.  On the record, it states that the address of  Alti Philosophi Records is Hengstbergst 11 Aral 04668 Grimma Germany.  If you Google this location you will find an Aral gas station with a McDonalds near Leipzig.

Slowdive : Hide Yer Eyes

Summer Day
Silver Screen
Hide Yer Eyes
I Saw The Sun

Popinjays – Bang Up To Date With The Popinjays

The Popinjays are Wendy Robinson and Polly Hancock.  I had the pleasure of seeing the Popinjays at The Joiners Arms, Southampton back in August 1992, on the Monster Mouth tour.  I think I have probably mentioned that both Wendy and Polly had the shiniest glossiest jet black hair that I had ever seen.

Bang Up To Date with The Popinjays, released in April 1990,  it features the single Please Let Me Go, which was also named Single of the Week in Melody Maker. There is a cover of The Beatles Rain, which is pretty faithful to the original the only remarkable difference is the change in gender of the lead singer.

The rest of the album is kitsch, cheesy and quirky ride.  To the extent that if René Dif popped up halfway through a track and exclaimed, “Come on, Barbie, let’s go party!” It would not sound out of place.  Although I Don’t Believe in Anything reminds me of The Primitives.

 Popinjays – Bang Up To Date With The Popinjays

Please Let Me Go
Doctor Fell
Hey! (Back To The Beginning)
Perfect Dream Home
I Don’t Believe In Anything
Thinking About The Weather
Mr Spacecase
Laughing At It All
Kissing Cowboys

Cranes – Wings of Joy

The first full-length album by the Cranes. which I brought probably on the strength that no one else had a copy,.  There were times of pointless indie snobbery back in the nineties, I might have had a Miranda Sex Garden album too at one stage.

Correctly described as; haunting, beautiful, otherworldly and creepy, but I do have a problem with Alison Shaw’s vocals.  I know that Slowdive’s Alison is rumoured to be written about the Cranes vocalist, but her voice is reminiscent of a toddler, who has been given a cocktail  of day-glow coloured pick-and-mix sweets and helium. The only comparisons I can draw are with fellow 4AD label bands such as Dead Can Dance and This Mortal Coil.

The Cranes are refreshingly different and are a contrast to the identikit indie bands that can be seen throughout the charts and music press.

Cranes : Wings of Joy
Living And Breathing
Leaves Of Summer
Tomorrow’s Tears
Beautiful Sadness
Hopes Are High

Vacant Gardens – Shorebirds

Vacant Gardens are a dream-pop noise duo comprised of singer-songwriter Jem Fanvu and multi-instrumentalist Glenn Donaldson (Jewelled Antler, The Reds, Pinks & Purples etc) they collaborate on some heavily fuzzed-out folk songs for lonely afternoons. Vacant Gardens embraces opposing forces, the dark and the light, noise, melody, building blissful songs inside near industrial level grey noise clouds.  They only started last year in August. Glenn lives in San Francisco and Jem lives in Los Angeles.

I managed to track down Jem and Glenn and ask them some questions about the track Shorebirds and the forthcoming album Under the Bloom.  Glenn kindly answered my questions about what the band was up to at the moment.

  • There is not much information about yourselves, what is your story?

We met like ten years ago making music in San Francisco. I’ve always been a fan of her voice. I was mixing a record she sang on that never came out, and I had it in the back my head that I wanted to make a record with her. I think we talked about it a couple times just in passing, but for some reason a few months ago, we started writing songs together. The album was written and recorded in a matter of weeks and is now coming out on vinyl in record time.

  • Tell us about the new album Vacant Gardens, what can we expect?
Heavenly vocal moves, lots of fuzz, catchy slow jams. It’s good for late afternoon tea or lonely sad road trips to visit old lovers.

  • What are your biggest influences to make music?  Vacant Gardens has a Heaven or Las Vegas Cocteau Twins feel but with a slash of post-rock in there too, how do you see Vacant Gardens?

We are definitely involved in some 80s-90s 4AD worship. Cocteau Twins are one of the greatest ever. That is too much to live up to. Basically, I wanted to make a folk record that was drenched in fuzz and atmosphere and had some heavy beats. I like the idea of Jem’s voice soaring over some grey noise clouds. I’m into the 90s Bristol scene big time, bands like Flying Saucer Attack and Movietone, also noise rock like Skullflower, Ramleh, Loop. I’d also throw in Opal and Codeine for bands I enjoy and think about. Some current local bands here in San Francisco, April Magazine and Blades of Joy probably also influenced me. But the main thing was working with Jem and her approach, getting inspired by her melodies.

  • What are you up to after the release of Vacant Gardens, what’s next?

Hopefully, more recording and maybe a couple west coast shows this year.

Thanks to Glenn and Jem and their album is an absolute banger, check it out.

Revolver – Crimson

There are some mixed reviews about this EP but I would say that it is solid, it is on its own, you can’t say that it was influenced by anyone.  Although I would say that there is some Mark Gardener vocal style in Drowning Inside and the in the lyrics ‘paralysed’ is used in the lyrics so I would say there is some influence by Ride.

AllMusic stated that was a ‘venial Middle Eastern meets spaghetti western background quaver of the fantastic Further Away.’  But I think that it sounds very standard 90s indie fare, this is not a negative comment as it is head and shoulders above the indie stalwart, Spartacus, by The Farm.

Revolver : Crimson

Don’t Ever Leave
Drowning Inside
Further Away