Celebrating The Best Indiepop #6: 'Creation Records; Three Early Singles'
Remember when Creation Records ruled the school? I mean, like, REALLY ruled the school!!! Long before they got bogged down with all the beige sludge that is 'the O word'. I could write page upon page about how much I hate 'the O word' but this Blog is here to celebrate music, not to pick at the scabs of those who stifle music with their bland ordinariness.
So, yeah, let's look back at when Creation were pretty much the cat's nadgers and look at three singles in particular which sum up that exciting and revolutionary time.
It all began, for us, with The Jesus & Mary Chain....we had just left school, in fact if I recall, some of us were still at school, when my friend Gary turned up at my house one day clutching some records. "You have got to hear this" he gushed, handing me the plastic bag in which The JAMC's 'Upside Down' resided. "Why is it in a wraparound paper sleeve and shoved into a polly bag" I asked. "It just is. It's just a wee Indie label they're on" he answered.
I put the record on the Dansette and waited....next thing, I felt like had been thrown across the room. 'Upside Down' propelled itself from the speakers in an explosion of honey and razorblades.....the pounding echo heavy drums, the feedback, the impassioned vocals, the killer riff....I wish I could say that I immediately proclaimed it to be a heady mix of The Velvet Underground and The Beach Boys, but back then I had yet to hear The Velvet Underground, and The Beach Boys were merely some 60s pop band my parents played when the sun shone, so I wasn't that sussed yet.
'Upside Down' rattled around in my skull for months....it was like the greatest record we had ever heard. The b-side was called 'Vegetable Man' and was equally good. We wondered who Syd Barrett was who had written it. When we found out he had been the original lead singer of Pink Floyd we were crestfallen...why were they recording something by those hoary old dinosaurs? Again, our naivety regarding music back then is almost embarrassingly quaint.
The Mary Chain became a galvanizing force amongst my friends, even more so than The Smiths whose archness alienated some. We read every interview like it was a manifesto for our lives, every new release was welcomed with street parties. 'Never Understand' was an immaculate follow up, and with 'You Trip Me Up' it almost became like they were taking the piss. With every utterance we danced in the streets; when they claimed their ambition was to be Number One in the UK and US simultaneously with a song called 'Jesus Fuck' we truly believed every word the Reid brothers spoke.
Then they released their debut album: 'Psychocandy'.
Everyone I know owns 'Psychocandy', it's the record that glues all the people I knew, post-school, together. It's release was timely....immediately after the horror that was the Live Aid concert. 'Psychocandy' took a flamethrower to the faces of those smug bastards who'd spewed their bleeding liberal hearts all over their Armani sleeves....all those old whores that Punk had wiped out were being given a second chance....how did this happen? 'Psychocandy' was something that was genuinely thrilling, genuinely sexy, genuinely dangerous in a time when Punk was, for the first time, being forgotten.
We had to wait a whole year for the next release, the wonderful 'Some Candy Talking' EP, but it was well worth it. Then came 'April Skies'....and sadly that's where the love affair ends. At the time I thought 'April Skies' was fantastic, but annoyingly The Mary Chain never seemed to progress beyond this point. The subsequent album 'Darklands' saw them adopt some kind of dark(Goth?) Rock which they would never seem to shake off. Each following release just sounded like an empty retread of the previous and all the magic, all the danger just seemed to vanish. I still went to see them every time they played Glasgow and they were always pretty wild live, but it just wasn't the same.
Back around the time between 'Upside Down' and 'Psychocandy' came another important Creation release; 'Don't Slip Up' by Meat Whiplash. Even though 'Upside Down' is a clattering, raucous punch-in-the-throat, it's still James Taylor compared to 'Don't Slip Up'.
Cut from the same cloth as The JAMC's debut, 'Don't Slip Up' is a thrilling, ragged, messy, dangerous SKKKKRRRREEEEEEEE of uproarious cacophony. It sounds like a record made by genuinely psychotic nutjobs who shouldn't be let within a hundred miles of a recording studio. The vocals; "No you mustn't slip up....AH HAAH HAAH!!" sound more like a threat than a chorus. And the B-side, 'Here It Comes' sounds even worse/better!! Equally jarring and genuinely scary, with a rogue drumbeat that knocks the song of it's axis every time it slips through the mix. I played it to death and even included both sides on my favourite ever mix-tape(which will from the basis of a future Blog) which I still cherish.
It was all housed in yet another wraparound sleeve 'designed'(in the loosest sense of the word) by then Mary Chain drummer Bobby Gillespie, and they never released another record, although I seem to recall a live cassette did the rounds for a while.
Almost preposterously the musicians from Meat Whiplash resurfaced as The Motorcycle Boy whose incredibly tight sound betrayed their MW past. The Motorcycle Boy released a fantastic single called 'Big Rock Candy Mountain' which the band I was in in the late 80s used to use as an intro song.
And speaking of Bobby Gillespie, we come to Creation's third Very Important Single. Now....you have to remember that around this time i.e. early 1985, POP was a dirty word. I had loved POP at school; Adam And The Ants, Japan(stop laughing!!), Blancmange and of course the BIGPOP of Dexys, Madness etc. But now, none of us would ever admit liking ::shudder:: Pop Music. Little did we realise that New Order, Julian Cope, The Specials, The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen and the whole 'Pillows & Prayers' roster were making some of the greatest Pop Music on Earth.
So when Bobby Gillespie's new outfit Primal Scream released their debut 7" on Creation; 'All Fall Down"/ "It Happens", we almost felt embarrassed to be listening to it, so joyous, sparkling and deliriously effervescent was it's pure sugar-rush. We couldn't compare it to The Byrds or The Loving Spoonful as again we hadn't discovered the pleasure of those bands yet. But we loved the way it went zzziiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnggggg, the way it went kkittttcccchhhaaaannggggg, and the way it swayed like a drunk at a wedding. One of my happiest memories of this single is my ~Sighrens~ cohort Griff serenading the entire upper floor of a doubledecker bus with 'It Happens' as we made our way to the local under-age drinking hostelry one Friday night back in the rain-drenched Summer of 1985. As the 'sha-la-la-la-la-la-lahs' swirled around the bus, I was convulsed with laughter as everyone else tried to avoid making eye-contact with 'the loony'.
Of course Primal Scream practically invented Indiepop and the whole C86 scene with such delights as 'Velocity Girl', 'Gentle Tuesday' and 'Crystal Crescent', and their psychedelic phase, 'Imperial', 'Sonic Flower Groove' etc really needs to be rediscovered properly.
In some people's eyes Bobby Gillespie is a bit of a bandwagon-jumping Indie chancer but he always seems to have been just one step ahead of his critics, and I guess he still is.
All of these singles are so life-affirmingly important to me that this Blog entry was so nearly called ' East Kilbride - So Much To Answer For' but that would just have been silly. So here's to a more innocent time when the only heady rushes that came in paper wraps inside polythene bags were the fantastic 7" Singles of Creation Records.