Lost Indie 45’s – #19 Silver Sun

Lava – Silver Sun (1997, Polydor Records, Taken from ‘Silver Sun’)

In 1996, I went for a drink in a Camden pub with a guy called Ned who worked for a promotional company based around the corner from this pub.  For half an hour a pretty endless stream of white boys dressed in Fred Perry shirts who all looked Liam or Noel Gallagher and all thought that they were the future of indie rock would amble past, Ned left the pub with about thirty CDs in his hands.

Most of the bands were nobodies, chancers who thought that because they owned a copy of ‘Beggars Banquet’ by the Stones or ‘Revolver’ by the Beatles that they were musicians of stature.  Chancers who thought that 12 months after the great Blur vs Oasis single battle (which folks as I’ve gone there, was apparently a marketing idea dreamed up in the very same pub during a very liquid lunch by their respective managers.  It was also the same pub that around six months before then had seen Menswear sign a record contract on a table next to the gents toilets) that record labels were still looking for the next Oasis, the next Blur or even the next Marion (more of them later).

It turns out that Britpop had moved on and record labels via their scouts and promotional teams were looking for a new type of band.  After our pint, Ned handed me a CD, not one of the several handed to us that we had started to use as coasters but one he plucked out his jacket pocket.  It was a promotional CD of a band called Silver Sun.

Silver Sun had been around for a couple of years, they had formed, oddly enough, in Camden and had previously gone by the name of Sun! until they got into some legal problems with a toilet roll masquerading as a newspaper and had added the word Silver to their name.  Silver Sun were according to Ned, along with Placebo, who had just signed to Hut Records, responsible for reigniting his love of guitar music.  That was quite a recommendation, baring in mind that the last CD Ned had given me was a Renegade Soundwave Best Of Album (talking of which, next year will see a short series which looks at Best Of Albums).

Biting My Nails (Bassnumb Chapter) – Renegade Soundwave (1989, Mute Records, Taken from ‘RSW 1987 – 1995’)

The thing that I think interested Ned so much about Silver Sun was that they were, despite forming in Camden at the height of Britpop, not trying to be a Britpop band.  They were trying to be Teenage Fanclub circa ‘Starsign’ or they were trying to be Weezer circa ‘The Sweater Song’. 

Starsign – Teenage Fanclub (1991, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Bandwagonesque’)

Undone (The Sweater Song) – Weezer (1992, DGC Records, Taken from ‘Weezer’)

It was all multi layered harmonies, falsetto vocals from more than one singer, a more focused attention on the guitars which were ratcheted up a notch or three and as Ned put it and as I can’t better it I’ll quote him direct.

 “Not a fucking trumpet or string section in sight

‘Lava’ was probably Silver Sun’s finest moment, a glorious three minute indie pop blast that straddled the lower echelons of the top 30 when it came out.    Their eponymously titled debut album went top twenty and for a short period they looked set for stardom, but their second album was poorly received, and they fell from favour.

The No Badger Required End of Year Countdown – #4 – Best Tracks Numbers 20 – 16

Welcome to the fifth instalment of the No Badger Required countdown of the best tracks of the year.  This is for those who have arrived late, presumably because your invites were held up by the ongoing postal strikes, a run down of the best tracks by new or emerging bands (new or emerging according to us at least, I don’t care if you heard them first twelve years ago rehearsing in the back room of the Cock and Dog in Croydon) over the last year or so. We start this week with a half Chilean singer songwriter from London via Gloucester.

20. Never Never – Gabi Garbutt (2022, Trapped Animals Records, Taken from ‘Cockerel’)

‘Never Never’ is put simply an indie pop anthem in the waiting.  It’s marvellously catchy.  Whilst I’m at it, ‘Cockerel’ the second album from Gabi (and her band The Illuminations) is folks, one of the finest indie pop records I have heard all year.  Ten tracks of uplifting earworm-y songs with massive choruses, trumpets, kettle drums and killer hooks all of which are delivered with the sort of energy usually only obtained by necking four cans of Monster. 

Next up something totally different from Glasgow

19. Second Thought – MEMES (2022, Unknown Label, Single)

I am next year probably going to do an entire series on bands who use capitals in their names so I can finally prove or disprove my theory once and for all, because here come another brilliant band who insist on the use of capitals.  MEMES are a post punk, laptop rock duo from Glasgow and ‘Second Thought’ is rather aptly their second single.  It is full of choppy guitars, spoken shouty vocals and rippling basslines and it is really rather excellent in a snotty Undertones type of way.

Next up more snottiness, this time from London

18. Slowly Separate – Crows (2022, Bad Vibrations Records, Taken from ‘Beware Believers)

I first saw Crows in 2018, when they played thirty minutes of angry noisy thrashy punk rock during a particular sweaty night at the Cavern Club when they supported No Badger Required favourites METZ.  Back then the band were the latest Idles sponsored band to be making waves across the UK Toilet venue scene, that was enough to make them interesting.

Four years later

after a small hiatus the band have returned with their second album ‘Beware Believers’, the lead single from that is ‘Slowly Separate’ which is an infectious blast all about living in a big city (probably London) working a job that you hate and rallying against the mundanity of hand to mouth living.  Now they are considerably more than interesting. 

Next Up more stroppy punk, this time from Hastings.

17. New England – Kid Kapichi feat Bob Vylan (2022, Spinefarm Records, Taken from ‘Here’s What You Could Have Won’)

‘New England’ is a snarling middle finger anthem that tackles political apathy, Brexit, racism and xenophobia.  So something for everyone really.  It’s measure is a strong one.  It wants to grab readers of tabloid newspapers who “get their news from the tits and arses” and shake them senseless.  The track also features grime/hip hop act Bob Vylan (which is surely a contender for the greatest name in music at the moment) who also come recommended.

Finally something a bit less shouty, blissful indie pop from Norway and yet more capital letters.

Ballerina (Norah) – VEPS (2022, Kanine Records, Taken from ‘Oslo Park’)

A couple of weeks ago VEPS quiet released their debut album ‘Oslo Park’ (Ok I think it’s the debut album) and it is wonderful.  Nine perfectly crafted songs delivered in just under half an hour.  They make high energy sugar coated indie rock, that is occasionally punchy, occasionally shouty and occasionally ventures into electronica inspired exploration.  ‘Ballerina (Norah)’ was the single that preceded it all about five months ago and its been on regular rotation in my house ever since.

Join My Club (or Party or Team)- #3 – The Go! Team

Ladyflash – The Go! Team (2004, Memphis Industries Records, Taken from ‘Thunder, Lightning, Strike’

When I was 14, I got flashed at by a drunk lady.  I was walking home from scouts, with my mates Rob and Neal.  We used to cut down the back roads, across a park and used to emerge onto the A2 near a massive roundabout.  The last section of that route took us down a side road and through a gap in the hedge.  That side road lead from a notorious Gillingham nightclub called The Avenue. 

I’ll just divert from topic slightly as this is genuinely true.  I saw Take That in The Avenue, when they were just beginning, they jumped around a makeshift stage, played two songs, the B Side to their single and then the A side to their single.  I am pretty sure that they lip synched their way through it and even then, I knew that Gary Barlow was a bastard.  I only went because my girlfriend at the time, (Amy) asked me and it being a Thursday night in Gillingham I had very little else to do but willingly attend the bright lights of an underage disco, where feral teens snogged each other until their lips were raw.  I remember sitting there, bored and totally out of my comfort zone, and told Amy about half an hour after Barlow and co had gone back to their minibus that I was going to get some chips.  I never went back and I think I dumped Amy a day or so later as she listened to Take That and not Nirvana – I think that may have been the excuse I used.

Anyway, I digress, let’s get back to The Avenue.

In 2001, a multi million pound scientific social research project found that 1 in every 6 children born in the Medway towns after the millennium was conceived in that side road that lead from The Avenue, you get the idea of the sort of place it is.  If the trend for naming your children after the place where they were conceived, then in Gillingham between 1992 and 2001 nearly every new born child in Gillingham would be called Ally.

About three minutes along that side road on that balmy June night, a lady appeared almost magically, whipped open her coat and flash her bits at us.  She literally had nothing on underneath a big red faux leather trenchcoat.  She was very drunk in her defence, giggled when she saw that she had flashed at three teenagers (one of whom, Neal was barely 13) and said

 “Sorry, boys, I thought you were someone else”

She then suggestively, and much to his mortal embarrassment, tweaked Rob’s neckerchief and added

I like a man in uniform”. 

For the next, ooh, twenty years or so, whenever I saw Rob I asked him how his girlfriend was and whether she still like uniforms.  Rob eventually moved to China to get away from my pisstaking (that and he qualified as a teacher and got a job teaching English in Beijing) and I don’t see him anymore.

The Go! Team is a musical collective from Brighton, onstage they can have as many as eight or nine members.  However, it wasn’t always like that, the bands debut album the rather excellent ‘Thunder, Lightning, Strike’ was largely the work of one person, a chap called Ian Parton.  Buoyed by the unexpected success of ‘Thunder, Lightning, Strike’, Parton went out an recruited a band in order to be able to play the album live and work on future records.  One of the people recruited was the British rapper Ninja who was quickly became the lead vocalist.  It is impossible to not like a band who have a lead vocalist called Ninja.

The Power Is On – The Go! Team (2004, Memphis Industries Records, Taken from ‘Thunder, Lightning, Strike’)

Musically the band combine a wide range of styles and genres.  On some songs you will get classic indie rock, then two minutes later you will get garage rock, or funk, TV soundtracks, old school hip hop, Bollywood fused with sixties retro pop all laced together with a plethora of samples and loops.   It was a breath of fresh air, one of the first records to try something different since The Avalanches.  It was critically acclaimed and thanks to the positive reviews it made the shortlist for the 2004 Mercury Music Prize, which is where Ian Parton stumbled across legal problems.

The widening success of The Go! Team meant that the album came to the attention of a bigger audience, sadly for the band, this mean other record companies, some of whom quickly seized upon the fact that some of the samples that the band had used had no been cleared.  So to avoid legal action the band rerecorded most of their debut album and rereleased it.  Some of the best tracks on the album had to be reworked.

Junior Kickstart – The Go! Team (2005, Memphis Industries Records, Taken from ‘Thunder, Lightning, Strike’)

Next Week Bombay Bicycle Club

League Two Music – #3 – Bradford City

Poison Street – New Model Army (1986, EMI Records, Taken from ‘The Ghost of Cain’)

In recent years there has been a massive surge in sales of Bradford City scarves.  The reason for is it not because of the clubs unexpected and brilliant run to the League Cup Final in 2013 – where, as a league two side they defeated Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa (all three premier league sides at the time) before narrowly losing five nil to Brendon Rogers’ Swansea City in the final.  Nor was it as a result of their plucky run to the FA Cup Quarter Finals in 2015, where they beat Chelsea (at Stamford Bridge) and Sunderland before losing to Reading.  Nor it is because in 2022, they enamoured themselves to fans of Manchester United, Barcelona and the entire country of Wales by somehow persuading Mark ‘Sparky’ Hughes (niche football fact, Mark Hughes’ real name is Leslie) to take over the reins of the club as manager.

Nope, the reason is that the colours that Bradford City play in (claret and amber) exactly match the colours of Griffyndor, Harry Potter’s chosen house at Hogwarts.  That is genuinely true, and it saddens me greatly.

Bradford City are one of those clubs whose fortunes appear to go up and down.  For instance in 1998, they were managed by Chris Kamara, surely a low point for any team.  Kammy actually took the team in the Championship before he was sacked for saying “Unbelievable, Jeff” too much and thinking he was funny..

In 1999 Bradford were playing in England’s top division.  In 2000 they reached the semi finals of the vastly important Intertoto Cup, where they lost to Zenith St Petersburg, victory would have put them in the first round of the old UEFA Cup.  A last day victory against Liverpool kept them in the Premier League for a second unexpected season.  But by 2007 Bradford were back in football basement division, where baring the odd unsuccessful venture into League One, is where they have largely stayed ever since.  They are perhaps your classic example of a football team with ideas of grandeur.

Musically, one of the biggest bands to have come out of Bradford are New Model Army.  They are rather like the football club in some respects in that they flirted with big time, albeit in the mid to late eighties, and then fell from grace and now appear to ply their trade in rocks lower echelons.

They are best known perhaps for this jaunty agit pop anthem, which rallies against the government whilst sitting back in a comfy sofa sponsored by EMI.

51st State – New Model Army (1986, EMI Records, Taken from ‘The Ghost of Cain’)

Also from Bradford is a young man called Zayn Malik, he used to be in One Direction apparently and this track is nowhere near as bad as you think it is. It is also the best selling western single in Chinese musical history.

I Don’t Wanna Live Forever – Zayn Malik (featuring Taylor Swift) (2016, Republic Records, Taken ’50 Shades Darker Soundtrack’)

Which brings us to this weeks previously unheard of band of the week, who are Red Shakes, a band who are unashamedly influenced by noughties indie.  Make of that what you will.

Borrowed Time – Red Shakes (2022, Self Released Single)

Next Week Leyton Orient

Someone Else’s Nearly Perfect Albums – #11 – Trapped and Unwrapped

This week JC is back with a tremendous review of an album that largely passed me by when it was first released way back in 1984.  Then again I was nine at the time and I think I can be forgiven.  When I was nine the only music I really cared about was by Nik Kershaw or Modern Romance.  He has chosen ‘Trapped and Unwrapped’ the debut album by Glasgow jingle pop band Friends Again. It is a very good album, a decent listen, and well worth an hour of your time if you have never heard it before (like me).   Anyway, here’s JC.

I’ll begin with an apology as this is a much longer piece than I had hoped, but the entire story leading up to the release of the album is very relevant.

It could be well argued that Glasgow was the centre of the musical universe between late 1982 through to 1984. Two of the Postcard label bands, Orange Juice and Aztec Camera, had experienced hit singles, and the likes of Altered Images, The Bluebells, Strawberry Switchblade and Lloyd Cole & The Commotions were no strangers to the Top of The Pops studios with their own brands of jingly-jangly guitar pop.  Throw in the increasing success of Simple Minds and you can begin to understand why so many A&R men were flocking to the city every weekend, hoping to snare ‘the next big thing.’

The smart money, from those of us who were regulars around the local live circuit, was on Friends Again, a five-piece band who had released an absolute belter of a 7” single called ‘Honey At The Core’ on their own Moonboot Records, in May 1983.  These guys were talented, handsome and, utterly cool. They were also ridiculously hard-working as they seemed to be either headlining or playing as a support act every other week. 

The band seemed to be the perfect hybrid of all that was great about the Glasgow music scene.  Chris Thomson was a fine singer and his lyrics were a cut above the ordinary or mundane, which was unsurprising given that he had, until becoming a full-time musician, studied English Literature.  The guitarist, James Grant, seemed like a true virtuoso as indeed did Paul McGeechan on keyboards, while the rhythm section of Neil Cunningham (bass) and Stuart Kerr (drums) were as solid and dependable as you could ever wish for.

Word came that Phonogram Records had signed the band, and those of us who were fans waited on Friends Again achieving all their dreams of fortune and fame.  The next single, ‘Sunkissed’ was pop perfection and to this day remains one of my all time favourite 45s. I was perplexed as to why it didn’t chart, but I consoled myself with the fact that Orange Juice hadn’t been an overnight success story and that these things can take some time. 

Their third single, State of Art, was released in the autumn of 1983.  It was yet another majestic 45 on which no expense seemed to have been spared.  There were strings added to what was one of their best songs from the live shows, while production duties were handled by Bob Sargeant, who had been at the helm of the chart hits of Haircut 100.  The promotional efforts included a video and the band undertaking their own headline tour, primarily of UK university venues. It was a real blow when it failed to chart, and the plan to issue the debut album in late 1983 was put on hold.

State of Art – Friends Again (1984, Phonogram Records)

The new year came, and with it, the first signs of panic among the record execs as a re-recorded version of ‘Honey At The Core’ was issued.  Bob Sargeant was again tasked with production duties. He butchered the song, turning it into a near MOR-effort with the verses consisting of Chris singing over an overly-intrusive piano part, with James’s beautiful guitar parts replace by an awful sounding, session-musician style solo. Unsurprisingly, it flopped.

The next throw of the dice came in the summer with the release of the ‘Friends Again’ EP, across three different formats, including an expensive looking 2 x 7” pack, complete with a glossy booklet featuring a band bio and umpteen photos.  The lead song was called ‘Lullaby No.2, Love On Board’. It didn’t sound like Friends Again as it was dominated by a horn section, and with the way James’s guitar parts were used, it felt as if Phonogram were trying to totally replicate the Orange Juice sound.

The EP did make the charts, albeit it peaked at #59.

Lullaby No. 2 – Friends Again (1984, Phonogram Records)

I saw the band play a gig at a college just outside Glasgow around this time, after which I spoke briefly to James who told me things weren’t as they should be in the Friends Again camp.  A few weeks later, word reached us that the band had split up, and the debut album still wasn’t in the shops.

In November 1983, ‘Trapped and Unwrapped’ finally appeared.  Friends Again were no more and  it felt really strange going out to buy the record knowing that the songs wouldn’t be played again in the live setting. I’d seen the band on countless occasions, including travelling down to London, and I was genuinely devastated.

South of Love – Friends Again (1984, Phonogram Records)

The thing is, the album proved to be less than what I had hoped for. Friends Again had, from the outset through the early singles and live performances, been a band who could throw all sorts of music into their mix and sound amazing. The jingle-jangle pop was there, but so too was some funk/soul, while the quieter numbers had a touch of folk/country about them.  ‘Trapped and Unwrapped’ felt as it had failed to capture all of this thanks to the record label wanting to throw all sorts of things to the wall in the hope that something would stick, in terms of a hit.

The search for the perfect formula had resulted in its twelve songs being worked on in three different studios with three different producers, while mixing duties were handled by two others.  The original versions of ‘Honey At The Core’ and ‘Sunkissed’ were missing, and in the case of the latter, the horns and guitar parts on the new version were again, simply an Orange Juice rip-off.

The thing is, I’m willing, thanks to hindsight and the passing of almost 40 years, to argue that the album is nearly perfect. My reasoning being that Trapped and Unwrapped finally made available so many songs first heard some two years previously when watching the band play live, and without it, I’d have been reliant on hearing them nowadays only through poorly recorded bootlegs.  If Phonogram had issued the album with the original versions of the early singles, and/or included a couple of what had been outstanding b-sides then I doubt I would have offered it up for this series as it would have been a 10/10 effort.

Indeed, the record company belatedly realised the folly of its ways when it came to issuing a CD version of the album in 2004 as it reinstated the early singles and threw in four extra songs that had previously been b-sides. 

Dealing In Silver – Friends Again (1984, Phonogram Records)

…ing Bands #12 – Dry Cleaning

Scratchcard Lanyard – Dry Cleaning (2020, 4AD Records, Taken from ‘New Long Leg’)

I use the dry cleaners quite a lot.  When I lived in Exeter there was a really good dry cleaners near the Cathedral that had a massive carousel full of clothes.  You’d hand them your ticket and a small Chinese lady would press a button, the carousel would crank into life and slowly the masses of jackets and dresses and things in polythene bags would spin round.  The Chinese lady would then press the button again and it would stop and your clothes would be just above her head.  How she did that I’ll never know.  I asked her once and she just looked at me blankly and handed me my suit. 

When I moved house, I had to use a branch of a chain that had attached itself to a big supermarket.  This place is nowhere near as exciting as the Exeter one.  It doesn’t have a carousel for a start, just a grumpy looking man with several hundred tattoos.  The second time I went in there he tried to charge me twice for my dry cleaning.  He insisted that the large stamp on my receipt was not for a suit but something else.  After a good ten minutes of arguing I got my suit back.  

I was in Exeter last week and the old Chinese dry cleaners was now a massive restaurant that specialises in serving desserts.   I peeked in the window, slightly disturbing the unfortunate couple who were tucking into what looked a massive bowl of Eton Mess, I’d hoped that the carousel was still there, and the diners had their desserts served to them by a magical old Chinese lady who pressed a button and then puddings, trifles and crumbles flew around the room and simply landed on your table, not a cherry out of place.  Sadly not.  It looked bland and thoroughly uninviting.

Dry Cleaning, the band, should be thoroughly uninviting as well.  After all this is a band that have been described as making post punk poetry.  A phrase that should send even the most dedicated music fan running to the hills where the music cannot follow them.   But, here’s thing – they ain’t terrible, they are really rather good. 

Their USP if that is the right acronym, is the fact that their singer doesn’t sing.  She speaks her vocals, or as the Guardian put it

Florence Shaw delivers her lyrics almost conversationally, freed from the rhythms of the music that surrounds her

which pretentious as it sounds, is pretty much spot on.  It is that freedom that has made Dry Cleaning so engaging.  For example, the way that Florence talks about joining your “knitting circle” and “Tokyo Bouncing Balls” just before the chorus kicks in during ‘Scratchcard Lanyard”, there is a certain something, in the way she almost appears to not know that there is a rumbling bassline and an almighty cascading riff unfolding behind her.  It’s seriously clever, because I think she probably does know that someone has stuck a rumbling bassline over the top of her ‘poetry’.

Musically they have been compared to Wire and Joy Division.  I’m not so sure about that, regardless I really like their music so it doesn’t matter who they do and don’t sound like.  I like the way that Florence Shaw delivers her spoken lyrics in her freed from musical convention manner.  I like the way that sometimes the hooks in the songs come from the bassline, that is unexpected. 

Unsmart Lady – Dry Cleaning (2021, 4AD Records, Taken from ‘New Long Leg’)

Counting Up from Two – #8 – Nine

Upon 9th and Fairchild – The Boo Radleys (1993, Creation Records, Taken from ‘Giant Steps’)

In 1984, just after my ninth birthday I joined a football club.  That club the imaginatively named Rainham 84, grew out of the ashes of two other boys teams that folded a few months earlier.  The supremo behind the club was a man called Paul, a chap who so he told us, used to play for Fulham and drove around in a Rolls Royce.

On the first training day which involved a hastily arranged match between about 25 lads, I played for the first time on the right wing.  Normally I played right back, but another lad called Tony had pretty much staked his claim on that position on the grounds that his dad was one of the training staff.  So I stuck myself out on the wing.  Where I flew up and down for the majority of the match, occasionally stepping inside, but by and large I caused havoc for the other side’s defence, because I was quicker than they were. 

A week later I was told by Paul that I’d made the team for Rainham 84’s first ever match.  This would be a friendly against a side from nearby Sittingbourne called Swale Magpies.  On the Sunday we all traipsed down to our home ground, and Paul gave us all a lecture about the time he played his first game for Fulham (he played left back and got subbed at half time because he didn’t listen to the boss) and told us we should keep the ball on the ground – which seems as a good reason to post this

Give Him A Ball and a Yard of Grass – Sultans of Ping F.C (1993, Rhythm King Records, Taken from ‘Casual Sex in the Cineplex’)

It was of course a bit of thrashing, we at Rainham 84 were woefully underprepared and by half time we were 4 goals down.  My marauding runs down the wing were becoming pointless, and all my crosses were not being met by the big lad in the middle as they were being easily dealt with by their big lad in the centre of defence. 

It was only a friendly Paul told us at half time as we wiped the orange juice from our mouths.  We’d be better by the time the season started.  Which was true, I mean we were awful right there and then and couldn’t get much worse.   We lost 7 nil a result which was made worse by Tony who was made captain, firing a penalty over the bar.

Two more friendlies had followed, a narrow 5 -1 loss to a team called Pegasus and an even narrower 3-2 defeat to a team called Parkwood United, so Paul was right we were getting better.  The first game of the season arrived and predictably it was chucking it down.  Which makes this a somewhat an ideal choice.

Nine Million Rainy Days – Jesus and Mary Chain (1987, Blanco Y Negro, Taken from ‘Darklands’)

The first game was against a team called Spartac (which I’ve thought would be a good name for a band).  They were already, based on their Under 11s side, the favourites to win the division.   None of them looked nine or ten.  Their holding midfielder had a beard that Brian Blessed would be proud of.   Thirty minutes before kick off, our goalkeeper cried off sick, leaving us with a distinct problem.  That is until my dad persuaded Paul to rip up the Kent County Football Rule Book.  

My dad wandered over and whispered to Paul.  Who in turn whispered in my brothers ear and walked over to me “If anyone asks, you two are twins”, he said with a nod.  My brother is eighteen months older than me and played in goal for the Under 12s.  He was back then a very good goalkeeper and made diving at the feet of strikers look undaunting and a lot of fun.

Oh” said, Paul, “your Dad says you should play centre forward – so here you go”.  With that he handed me the Number Nine shirt. 

9 – Planningtorock (2011, DFA Records, Taken from ‘W’)

Final score two each, a penalty saved by my brother, who singlehandedly kept us in the match and a last gasp equaliser scored by yours truly (bottom left hand corner, keeper stood no chance).  It genuinely felt like we’d won the cup.  The jubilation would not last, but it was great whilst it did.

Lost Indie 45’s – #18 Clor (Or why I stopped reading the NME Vol. 2)

Love + Pain – Clor (2005, Parlophone Records, Taken from ‘Clor’)

Ok here we go again.  In 2010, the NME, in another desperate attempt to get its readership up, ran an article called ‘The 100 Greatest Albums That You Have Never Heard’.  Now that isn’t a bad idea.  I mean that could be a very good list full of an eclectic range of artists who made groundbreaking, genre bashing music that could very well change lives, stop wars and make the world beautiful again.

By and large it tried.  The rundown featured albums by artists like Leadbelly, Howlin’ Wolf, Bikini Kill, Crass, The Cocteau Twins, Magazine and The Zombies – a pretty eclectic mix and you could dramatically improve your music library by having at least one record by any of those artists in it.


They had to go and ruin it. 

Because there at number one, the greatest album that we’ve all never heard, an album considered to be more relevant to music than anything Leadbelly ever recorded or more important than ‘Modern Lovers 88’ by Jonathan Richman (which was placed at #14), and ‘Sulk’ by the Associates (#23) was the debut and only album by short lived post punk revivalists Clor.

Twenty minutes after publication, a collective and resounding thud noise could be heard across the globe.  It was the sound of music fans collectively smacking itself in the face because with that one stupid decision.  The NME broke music.  Again.

Gail Loves Me – Jonathan Richman (1987, Rounder Records, Taken from ‘Modern Lovers 88’)

Party Fears Two – The Associates (1982, Beggars Banquet Records, Taken from ‘Sulk’)

The Clor album was at the time of the chart perhaps 5 years old.  An album that, whilst not that bad, isn’t that good either.  It is certainly not the sort of album that when the great alien invasion of 2097 occurs, is going to be thrust under the noses of the new overlords of earth as an example of why we shouldn’t have our brains fried and our castles razed to the ground.   For that you need the debut album from Menswear obviously. 

I’ll Manage Somehow – Menswear (1995, Laurel Records, Taken from ‘Nuisance’)

The Clor album is the sort of record you might lend a mate who was bored with listening to the third Arcade Fire album.  I feel sorry for Clor, because even if every influential album that has ever been recorded had never been recorded, the debut album by Clor still wouldn’t be the greatest album we’ve all never heard.  It was a stupendously stupid choice to be number one. 

The debut single from Clor, ‘Love + Pain’ was however seriously good.  It is the sort of record that would be number one for ever if it was piped into your houses just after the first coffee of the day kicks in.  It has that urgent frantic nature to it.  It will make you bop your head up and down and you will be humming it for the rest of the year after one or two listens.  ‘Love + Pain’ had enough brilliance to hint that Clor might just be interesting enough to make a difference.  It’s just the rest of it that was the musical equivalent of a day out in Weston Super Mare in that it looked inviting, but ultimately left you feeling a little cold and miserable.

Clor were fronted by the mad haired singer Barry Dobbin.  I genuinely haven’t made that up.  Even in 2005, Barry was a name that was fading away into obscurity, up with the Gary’s, the Nigel’s and the Clive’s.  I suspect that in 2022, no one called their new born son, Barry.  But regardless, Dobbin with his mad hair and his obvious love of Talking Heads and Devo records looked set to join that elite list of culturally significant Barry’s (in order of importance Chuckle, Sheene, Venison, McGuigan, Manilow, and From Accounts). 

But, no, shortly after the release of their debut album, Clor split due to musical differences.  Quietly the world shrugged its shoulders.

Dangerzone – Clor (2005, Parlophone Records, Taken from ‘Clor’)

The No Badger Required End of Year Countdown – #4 – Best Tracks Numbers 25 – 21

Welcome to week four of the No Badger Required end of year tracks of the year countdown. We start this week in Brooklyn, New York with a track that I heard for the first time about a week before the qualifying cut off date occurred.

Earth Worship – Rubblebucket (2022, Grand Jury Records, Taken from ‘Earth Worship’)

Rubblebucket have been around for years, but before last week I had never heard a single second of their music.  I have arrived very very late to this particular party.  Which by the way, is a party that you should get involved with because its an insane sort of affair that is way better than any party that you’ve ever been invited to.   ‘Earth Worship’ is the title track from the bands sixth album (also called ‘Earth Worship’) and it sounds like the best bits of MGMT with Karen O thrown in on vocals.  It is extraordinarily good.

Talking of extraordinarily good things from Brooklyn, New York, here’s Widowspeak.

Everything is Simple – Widowspeak (2022, Captured Tracks Records, Taken from ‘The Jacket’)

It is really hard to not adore Widowspeak.  Their music is quietly confident and is full of knowing nods to acts like Yo La Tengo and Cat Power.  The music is breezy and laid back and they drift dreamily along splendidly.  ‘Everything is Simple’ is just wonderful a soulful indie track that musically is hanging delicately by a thread but it never feels like collapsing as it is caressed by the soothing vocals of singer Molly Hamilton.  Tremendous.

Talking of tremendous things from Brooklyn, New York, here’s Bodega.

Statuette on the Console – Bodega (2022, What’s Your Rupture?, Taken from ‘Broken Equipment’)

Bodega, for those of you in the dark make music that sits somewhere in the middle of the space left next to The Fall and just to the side of Parquet Courts.  There is also I think a heavy disco influence on display as well.  ‘Statuette on the Console’ is one of several tracks on the second album that is sung by the bands second singer Nikki Belfiglo and what makes it stands out is the way she instantly switches from singing to full on Karen O (second mention in three paragraphs) wailing is something to behold.

Talking of things to behold, here’s London’s The Big Moon

Trouble – The Big Moon (2022, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Here is Everything’)

I saw the Big Moon about five years ago, when they were barely out of their teens.  They threw themselves around the stage with brilliantly urgent songs about drinking and partying.  Then Covid hit and earlier this year the band returned with songs that still have their urgency and their upbeat energy.  Now however the songs aren’t about drinking and that but they are about motherhood, and they are about the difficulty some women have with breastfeeding and they are even more brilliant because of it.

Finally, lets head up to Manchester for some good old fashioned torch song indie

Ghosts – Hollows (2022, Unknown Label, Single)

I know very little about Hollows, I know that they are from Manchester and that they make stunning indie rock.  It has soaring guitars that scream, it has vocals that shout, they make songs with chorus’ so insanely vibrant and busy that sees everything fighting for your attention.  Absolutely brilliant.

Join My Club (Or Team or Party) – #2 – The Slow Readers Club

I Saw a Ghost – The Slow Readers Club (2015, Extenso Music Ltd, Taken from ‘Calvacade’)

Before I start, today marks the first anniversary of the launch of No Badger Required. I think it’s going well, but I’m bound to say that. Thank you for staying with me. Anyway, enough back slapping….here’s some more waffle.

About twelve years ago I spent the night in a hotel in Belper, Derbyshire.  I was enroute to a training day up in a place called Ripley.  At about three am I woke up due to a drunk Scottish voice shouting outside my window.  His knowledge of swearing was commendable.  Anyway, I found myself wide awake.  I decided to get up and pack my bag, maybe walk down to the 24 hour garage that I spied on the way in and treat myself to very late midnight snack of jaffa cakes and Kettle Crisps.

I went across to the wardrobe and grabbed my bag and it was then I spotted something on the shelf above it.  I reached up and there was a fairly old copy of ‘The 39 Steps’ by John Buchan.  A book that my dad had given me when I was about ten and as it happens, a book, I love, if you ignore the rampart nationalism and slightly dodgy colonial feel to it.

Inside the book was a note. 

Dear Guest, this book is for you to read, please take it with you if you want to.  All we ask if that you replace it with another one from the ‘British Heart Foundation Charity Shop on the High Street along with this note”.

Underneath the note a bunch of people had signed it and written what book they had replaced it with.  Which I thought was a tremendous idea.  I also thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t here two weeks ago, when someone replaced ‘Stark’ by Ben Elton with a copy of Paul O’Grady’s autobiography.  Imagine being wide awake at 3am with only Paul O’Grady’s autobiography to read.

So instead of gorging myself of crisps and cakes (they are not biscuits) I snuggled up in my bed and re-read ‘The 39 Steps’ in all its rumbustious brilliance. At nine thirty after a hearty breakfast I nipped into the British Heart Foundation shop, which was handily placed across the road from the hotel and found a fairly decent copy of ‘Strip Jack’ by Ian Rankin, which I put where ‘The 39 Steps’ had previously sat.

I love this idea and every time I stay in a hotel, if I get time and there is a charity shop nearby, I try and do something similar.  There is a hotel in Dunster where I left a Peter James book, I left a copy of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ by Frank Baum in room 12 in a small hotel in Ross on Wye.  If you ever stay in room 17 at the excellent Whitehouse Hotel in Worcester you might find a well read copy of ‘Watership Down’ in the third drawer in the right hand side cabinet.

I came to books quite late.  I wasn’t really interested in them when I was younger.  Sure, we did Shakespeare at school, but it largely passed me by.  The books chosen as part of syllabus were dull and written about two hundred years ago.  Then I went to college and out of the need to get some more hours in took up English A Level.  There slowly I discovered the joy of a good book and the joy of writing. 

At, around the age of 17, I also realised that some girls, found boys who have a copy of socialist bible ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ stuffed in the pocket of their army jacket, more interesting than boys who didn’t.  So, for latter parts of my college days, I could often be found in the refectory, with a cup of tea, and a battered Penguin original next to me.  There I would sit trying to look bookish, clever, and intellectual with tomes by George Orwell, Iris Murdoch, Sylvia Plath and Arthur Conan Doyle perched closed by.  If I am honest I read very few of them cover to cover, but people noticed them and avoided me as I was a pretentious prick who read socialist literature for fun.

Plant the Seed – The Slow Readers Club (2015, Extenso Music Ltd, Taken from ‘Calvacade’)

Forever in Your Debt – The Slow Readers Club (2014, SRC Records, Taken from ‘Live at the Central Library’)

Yet Again – The Slow Readers Club (2021, SRC Records, Taken from ’91 Days in Isolation’)