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Sunday, 24 October 2010

~Kitten Wine~#21: Flexitown Revisited

Back in May, in what became ~Kitten Wine~#7:'60 Minutes in The Anorak City', I wrote about a mix-tape that has been a constant companion of mine over the last 22 years. In listing the songs and enthusing about them I was lucky to find video clips to accompany most of the songs. However there were about 5 songs that I could find nothing for at all. All from flexi-discs released in the Spring of 1988. In fact for four of them I could find scant info on the Internet at all....just nothing. So....
A few weeks ago on a beautiful Autumn's afternoon Griff, Ray and myself convened at the Streetlamp HQ and set about putting this to rights, and so we made MP3 copies of the original tracks and then Ray created videos for them. So here we have it....a chance to finally enthuse properly about these fantastic songs and at last share them with people who, unless you bought the fanzines these Flexidiscs came with at the time, will never have heard them.

Let's do it....

We begin with 'Anorak City' by Another Sunny Day. Now this Flexidisc is numbered Sarah 3, and came with a fanzine entitled Sarah 4. I'm sure you've probably figured out that these were the third and fourth releases on Sarah Records. The cover of the fanzine announces that both fanzine and flexi can be purchased for a whopping 50p. The fact that this fanzine and flexi combo now commands over £100(if Record Collector magazine is to be believed!) is staggering.
I've already declared my love for this song profoundly enough in ~KW~#7, so I'll share with you what Matt and Claire of Sarah say about the records inside the pages of the accompanying fanzine: "Anorak City plays at 45r.p.m because that's POPmusic speed, ALBUMS play at just 5 and 3/4 inches across and the thinnest plastic ever because it's only POPmusic, flimsy, throwaway stuff....crackles and fizzes and POPs because it contains such things as ENERGY, COLOUR, called 'Anorak City' because some people are incredibly stupid". Sentiments we all agree with.
I LOVE this song and I hope that you enjoy both it and the video Ray has created to accompany it....

The next tracks are by The Magic Shop and The Visitors and are on a Flexidisc released on Sha-la-la Records. Unfortunately I've long since lost the fanzine it came with, but thankfully not the record....although I'm sure there are many people out there who have either lost both, or made the record unplayable and kept the fanzine in mint condition!
'It's True' by The Magic Shop is a splendid little ditty that chings along all trebley guitars and wobbly Farfisa organ. When we were converting this track, Griff couldn't stop smiling at the singers vocals as it sounds as though his voice is in the process of breaking as he sings, or that the song is in too high a register for him. It's a cracking wee song though and really buzzes with youthful naivety and exuberance...

Naivety and exuberance are hardly to the fore on 'Goldmining' by The Visitors however. This is quite a bitter, downbeat little track that seems to find it's creator raging hard against marriage.I'm not quite sure exactly what the overall point of his bitterness is, but in a literal reading of the lyrics it sounds like he(or someone) has married their childhood sweetheart only for the marriage to end amid boredom and infidelity. I hope the singer isn't speaking from experience. The song doesn't sit well amongst all the sweetness and frivolity of Sarah Records and their compatriots, but that's one of the reasons I love it so much, and why we're bringing it to you here for the first time anywhere....

Next up is another Flexidisc from Sha-la-la only this time showcasing two bands from the Sombrero Records roster. Sombrero actually only had three bands, all with rubbish names, all wonderful; The Siddeleys, Reserve and Bob. All three bands, it's safe to say, were indebted to The Smiths....The Siddeleys were often compared to The Smiths and vocalist
Johnny Johnson(a girl by the way) was often hailed as the female Morrissey. Bob once had a song that mentioned 'Slow Hand Johnny and Steven P M', and Reserve couldn't sound more influenced by The Smiths if they tried! We intend to cover Bob in a full Blog sometime in the near future, but today let's concentrate on The Siddeleys and Reserve.
'Wherever You Go' by The Siddeleys is just fantastic, a jaunty, jangly little whizzbang of a song that, nowadays, would be said to be about obsessive love, but really it's just about love and infatuation. That's the problem with growing old and cynical, you forget the electric shock rush you used to feel when the girl of your dreams walked by that now you view these self same feelings in others as unhealthy and obsessive. But this song is not dark in any way, it bursts with joyful declarations of undying love that only seem to come from the young and the naive. Leave your cynicism at the door and wallow in the headrush fireworks of young romance....

And so we finish off with 'The Sun Slid Down Behind The Tower' by Reserve. It seems apt to finish with this as this is the track I used to finish the mix-tape. I'm always a sucker for songs about Summer nights and the romance of sunsets and that's exactly what this song conveys to me. As I said above this is a band that maybe listened a little too closely to The Smiths; the janglesome guitars, the vocal pitched just a little too low and morose sounding. But it all works beautifully and if ever a track captured that end-of-a-golden-Summer feel it's this one. I feel that Ray has created one of his best videos to accompany this track, which is only fitting.

It feels such a privilege to able to bring these long lost songs to you, especially as they have meant so much to me over the last couple of decades.
Whilst you can find info on Another Sunny Day, Reserve and The Siddleys on the Internet, there seems to be absolutely NOTHING on The Visitors or The Magic Shop. If anyone connected with either band happens to stumble across this Blog, we would really like to hear from you so we could do a more in depth piece on both bands. Also, as we've mentioned above, we have the tracks here on MP3s if anyone may be interested.
Contact us at the e-mail address at the top of the page.


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