’83 In ’05 was the title of a song released by Pants Yell! in 2005, but it was of course originally called ’83 In ’03 – detailing the life of Creation Records boss Alan McGee in 1983. These days a lot of people have been participating in a ‘7 songs in 7 days’ meme on facebook, telling everyone about some important and formative music throughout their lives. Fortunately, no one has nominated me for this meme yet. But it has made me think a little about favourite bands I’ve had earlier in my life.
I guess it started at the age of 10, when I bought my first LP. It was a Doors compilation featuring “Peace Frog” any many other great tracks, and I just loved hearing it through the massive (as I thought at the time) speakers in my parents’ living room. This soon led me on to my first favourite band Led Zeppelin, and from there to The Ramones and later Primal Scream. I purchased my first guitar at 16 and learnt pretty much every Belle & Sebastian song on the Sinister forum. The next five or so years I probably wrote about 50 songs, with the main inspiration being Felt. As I found out around that time, Primal Scream had initially been a punk version of The Byrds.
I became increasingly interested in similar bands from around 1985-86, that were sort of a half-breed with one foot in the 60s style and fashion one in punk confrontation. There really wasn’t much difference between the mod and garage revival bands that started popping up and the indie bands that were lumped together as C86 – after a giveaway NME cassette. They all shared a love for guitar-based popular music, and I started to get immersed in Rickenbacker, Vox, Burns and Selmer equipment. Eventually, I wrote my first academic essay about that tape, and attended the 20th anniversary gigs at the ICA in London – where I met many of my idols (including Lawrence Hayward, Johnny Johnson, Phil Wilson and Harvey Williams).
Eventually, I had ploughed through the most obscure record labels, one-off 45s, flexis and demos. After that I concentrated on the 60s scene and listened much more to soul and psychedelic music. And that is still where I am today. But recently I’ve bought some singles I never got around picking up back then, and I suspect there will be a DJ set of 80s indie before long. Until then I’ve made a playlist of some of my favourite songs of that era, right up to The Stone Roses, who – along with britpop – became the end result of all that independent flurry of activity. And after them it all went mainstream I guess. This year is also the 30-year mark for many of these indie releases, as well as being my 30th year on this planet. Last year the C86 compilation was reissued as a 3CD set and The Guardian published an article about the original tape.
Click the icon below to access the playlist, featuring many artists who appeared on my erstwhile radio show The Rain Fell Down, which was named after a song by Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes. That song is not available (unsurprisingly), so I’ve picked another one by them to start things off. After that, “Don’t Die On My Doorstep” by Felt, which was the name of my first club night, started in 2007. Louis Philippe’s “Heaven Is Above My Head” then became the name of my blog. There’s The Sea Urchins too, naturally, who are pictured above. 30 tracks in total, not covering 30 years but definitely the 85-90 period.