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Top 10 – 1987

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Top 10 – 1987

Posted on 02 December 2017 by Dorian

This year is the 30th anniversary of 1987. This isn’t a year that typically gets identified as being a particularly important one for music, but it was an important one for this young indie fan. Aged 15 I’d just started to develop my own taste and, for the first time, had some income that I could use to buy records with.

One year after NME’s legendary C86 cassette we were starting to see bands from that “scene” bringing out albums and breaking (to some extent) into the mainstream. For me it was a wonderful time to discover music and I still own most of the records I purchased at that age.

This top 10 may not be the definitive best songs of 1987, brilliant records by The Smiths, Prince, Hüsker Dü, Julian Cope, Big Black, Sonic Youth, The Go-Betweens, Dinosaur Jr, New Order, The Pixies and more came out that year, but it is a reflection of my experience of music at the time.

10.  The Soup Dragons – Can’t Take No More

The Soup Dragons aren’t well-remembered, and when they are it is seldom for this song, but I have a great fondness for this record. The mix of British guitar jangle pop, and a fast paced fuzziness, is what defines this era for me and I think this is a bit of a lost classic.

9.  Pailhead – I Will Refuse

The partnership of former Minor Threat Ian MacKaye and Revolting Cock Al Jourgensen seems a bit of an odd one in retrospect, but together they produced a pretty amazing noise for a couple of EPs. This song is the best of the bunch. Play loud.

8.  The Dukes of the Stratosphere – You’re My Drug

I don’t know if it is true or apocryphal but the story goes that XTC were so out of fashion by the late 80s that even their records as a fictional 60s psychedelia band sold better than their “real” records. This song is so authentically produced that you could forgive someone for thinking they were a genuine lost act of the flower-power era.

7.  Age of Chance – Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Noise

A sound they called “sonic metal disco” and a penchant for cycling gear wasn’t enough to give the Age of Chance much of a career. However, their debut album was pretty unique and spawned some genuinely excellent singles. This is one of them.

 6.  Voice of the Beehive – I Say Nothing

This list is a bit of an (unintentional) “where are they now?” and Voice of the Beehive are another forgotten act. I think that this single was brilliant but I admit that them being my first ever gig may be a factor in this choice.

5.  The Sugarcubes – Birthday

I loved the Chart Show. I loved it most when the indie chart was the specialist chart for the week (oh, the disappointment of heavy metal or dance) and seeing this song in that chart was an eye opener. Even now I still have no idea exactly how the song is constructed as a variety of clashing melodies compete for attention behind Bjork’s unmistakable vocal performance.

4.  They Might Be Giants – Don’t Let’s Start

They Might Be Giants are too often dismissed as a comedy or novelty act. This assessment misses just what a creative and unique pop band they are. This is great and kick-started a long time love for the band.

3.  The Wedding Present – My Favourite Dress

The Wedding Present would be number 1 in an album chart for 1987, the album George Best is still a treasured part of my vinyl collection. There are so many great tracks that I could pick, but this single from the album just about takes pride of place.

2.  That Petrol Emotion – Genius Move

That Petrol Emotion are a band that deserve more of a place in musical history. Formed by The Undertones’ O’Neill brothers they released five excellent albums in a seven-year career. This single is among my favourites of their many excellent songs and gets the nod here as it is not available (to my knowledge) in any format. Spotify has a version on the band’s posthumous live album,  but nothing beats the original single which lives on via YouTube.

1. Faith No More – We Care A Lot

This song would have always been in this chart, but the recent sad death of Chuck Mosley and a nostalgia filled revisiting of the video may have pushed it up a place or two. It is a great single, completely unique, and worthy of a number 1 spot. RIP Chuck.

What songs would you pick as your best of 1987? If you are apoplectic that I haven’t selected ‘True Faith’, or have a love for something from Sinitta’s debut album, please post your choices below.

Compiled by Dorian Rogers

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Best of 2015 Albums – The Ones That Got Away

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Best of 2015 Albums – The Ones That Got Away

Posted on 26 January 2016 by Joe

Like many music blogs the work we do reviewing albums and writing features is a labour of love, rather than a source of income. Sometimes though this means planned reviews of albums don’t get written up as life gets in the way. This happened towards the tail end of last year, a busy time with family matters and the day job.

With a bit of time in January we thought, better late than never, we’ll get some brief reviews up of our quartet of Best of 2015 Albums that escaped us at the time

The Everlasting Yeah – Anima Rising

 

everlasting500

Formed from the UK based members of That Petrol Emotion, this debut is a true hidden gem. On a first casual listen some of the tracks, like opener A Little Bit of Uh-huh and All Around the World its full of some standard Rolling Stones or Primal Scream rock riffs. But then the layers of guitar music begin to shine through and a far more sophisticated beast than the tired, old rock of Gillespie and co becomes apparent. This is perhaps best heard on Take That Damn Train Again, which is elevated way beyond standard rock fare with the addition of Gallon Drunk’s Terry Edwards and his marvellously insane saxophone playing.

The ‘slowie’ Everything is Beautiful is among our highlights and the sort of track we’d like to hear more from on future releases. There’s some lovely guitar work here and this track has the best melody on the album and reminded us a little of XTC’s later work – high praise indeed.

Design – Black Marker Red Marker

 

Design_the-band-500

Time for one of our local bands, hailing from Somerset this trio are formed by former Chesterfields band member Simon Barber and features Helen Stickland on guitar and Rob Parry on drums. It sounds nothing like the twee pop of the Chesterfield though and instead more akin to another great West Country band of old – 1980s punk act Thatcher on Acid, particularly on the driving bass on opener You Only Had to Ask.

There’s some good tunes on here, as well as zeitgeist lyrics tackling weighty issues of the day such as consumerism and the Middle East. If You Like That is among the best  on the album, as is the more rock orientated Kill Someone.

Promised Land Sound – For Use and Delight

 

promised land sound

Slapped wrists indeed for us in missing this excellent album from folk, pop, psychedelia, you name it, act from Nashville. There’s some downright lovely guitar arrangements here as you’d expect from a band from Nashville, and in lead vocalist Joe Scala they have a great frontman, whose relaxed vocal delivery seems effortless but takes a lot of work for far less talented singers to get right.

Those who saw Alabama Shakes in the US recently may have caught them live. You were lucky on the evidence of thisalbum . Check out the final, frantic minute of Push and Pull (All the Time) to hear why we were so impressed with this release.

Chorus Girl – Chorus Girl

 

chorus

This debut album from this London-based guitar pop quartet is full of great indie anthems, part Breeders, part the quality, modern indie-pop we’ve come to expect from their label Fortuna Pop. The beating heart of these songs is their chief songwriter Silvi Wersing, whose vocals brings a certain,  at times goth, edge to the music. Key tracks include Sweetness and Slight and opener Oh To Be A Defector.

Reviews by Joe Lepper

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Top 100 Albums (90-81)

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Top 100 Albums (90-81)

Posted on 29 March 2011 by Joe

Everyone has their own Top 100 Albums list, but this is ours based on our love of alternative and independent music over the years. There are some albums here that you will have seen on many lists before but we’ve also opted for some obscurities with the aim of highlighting some different music for you to seek out.

We have been releasing this list ten at a time every Friday.  Here’s the first instalment (100-91) We hope you enjoy this second instalment. Also, for  more great albums visit our  Classic Albums section

90. Pere Ubu – The Modern Dance

Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance

Pere Ubu were one of oddest punk bands to come out of the scene in late 70s America. Lead by the caterwauling vocals of Oliver Hardy lookalike David Thomas they made a noise unlike anyone else. The rhythms were tight, the guitars fierce and the songs absurd and poignant at once. They have released a dozen excellent records through a long career, but their debut is still the best of the bunch. They manage to set a standard for punk, art rock and avant-pop in one fell swoop. From the fierce yet catchy assault of ‘Non-Alignment Pact’ to the more challenging ‘Humor Me’ this is a groundbreaking and fascinating record.

89. Darren Hayman – Pramtown

Ex-Hefner frontman Darren Hayman is one of the UK’s best folk artists, although as he points out on his Facebook site “everybody else would say indie”. This first part in a trilogy about Essex, which topped our Albums of 2009  list, focuses on Harlow. The town provides an excellent backdrop for his  stories about love on Essex commuter trains and those living in its sterile new town estates.  The follow up Essex Arms, which focuses on the county’s rural life, is wonderful as well, but as the first in the trilogy this will always have a special place in our hearts.

88.  New Pornographers – Twin Cinema

The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema

Carl (AC) Newman is the best songwriter you’ve never heard of. With his band, the New Pornographers, he has released a string of power pop classics that have delighted the critics but evaded the public consciousness. Twin Cinema followed two brilliant albums but managed to raise the bar in terms of quality alternative guitar pop. Aided by Neko Case (who is the best guitar pop singer since Debbie Harry), Destroyer’s Dan Bejar (who contributes a downbeat counterpoint to Newman’s sweeter melodies) and an ensemble of superb musicians the quality stays high from start to finish. There isn’t a bad song on the album but the coupling of ‘We Are The Fables’ and ‘Sing Me Spanish Techno’ takes some beating.

87. Howe Gelb – Sno Angel Like You

In 2006 Giant Sand frontman Howe Gelb travelled to Canada, teamed up with Arcade Fire drummer  Jeremy Gara and the Voices of Praise gospel choir and made this breathtaking album. Blending gospel with Gelb’s more traditional bar room Arizona tunes was a masterstroke as Voices of Praise’s vocals drift in and out, even taking the listener by surprise at times. Great tunes, great vocals and one of the best mixes of genres in our list.

86. Thin White Rope – Sack Full Of Silver

Thin White Rope - Sack Full of Silver

How Thin White Rope didn’t end up being an alternative household name like Nick Cave or The Flaming Lips is one of the mysteries of modern music. Lead by the fierce vocals of Guy Kyser they produced a desert rock sound that fitted with the mood of Green on Red or Giant Sand, but was altogether darker and more psychedelic. Sack Full of Silver, their fourth album, was their most coherent and fully realised set of songs. The album sounds like it was recorded lost on the road in a desert, and the feeling of loss and desperation make it a challenging listen. This is tempered but a beauty to the music and a sense of hope. ‘Triangle’ is the centrepiece of the album and one of the great lost songs of the 1990s, sad, weird and beautiful all at once.

85. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion


This 2009 album catapulted Animal Collective into the big time, giving their oddball take on electronic music a whole bunch of new fans and  mainstream credibility for the first time. It is a  success  that is well deserved as tracks such as ‘My Girls’ and ‘Summertime Clothes’ emerge as wonderful alternate reality pop hits. Warm and melodic amid the bleeps and swirling loops this album is part Flaming Lips, part Beach Boys, part Ibiza club and is another example of how well genres can be merged.

84.  Super Furry Animals  – Guerilla

Super Furry Animals  - Guerilla

Super Furry Animals came along at the tail end of Britpop but their distinctly Welsh mix of psychedelia, 60s pop and dance music had little in common with their contemporaries. Guerrilla is an eclectic mix of all their influences which manages, against the odds, to sound like a cohesive album. The trio of singles, ‘Do Or Die’, ‘Fire In My Heart’ and (best of all) ‘Northern Lites’ are as good as anything that hit the charts in the late 1990s. The fact that this album has another 10 top quality songs shows how strong a record it is.

83. That Petrol Emotion Manic Pop thrill


Formed in 1984 and including former Undertones brothers Damien and John O Neil, Northern Ireland’s That Petrol Emotion were one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the UK alternative music scene at the time.  It took a couple of years for this their debut album to be released but it was worth the wait. Pop savvy song writing, matched with inventive guitar playing and lead singer Steve Mack’s energy made this a stunning debut. Highlights include the single ‘It’s a Good Thing’ and centrepiece track ‘Lifeblood’.

82. Beulah – When Your Heartstrings Break

Beulah - When Your Heartstrings Break

Beulah are part of Elephant 6 collective (read more about that here), but they stand apart from the other bands by demonstrating a talent for simple classic pop. The first song I heard from this their sophomore album was the brilliant ‘Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand’ and I was blown away by what I heard. A slow dreamy intro moves into fuzzy guitars, before a Dexy’s style horn section ties everything together. The rest of the album is just as good and manages to achieve the feat of sounding completely new and classic all at once.

81. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak


US punk/indie rock outfit Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have released six studio albums since 1999 but Hearts of Oak from 2003 remains  their best, most consistent album. There’s some great singles on this, such as ‘Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone’, but it’s the power and passion of Leo’s writing and vocals as well as the mix of reggae, ska, politics and punk across the  tracks that make this such a stunning listen.

by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

Top 100 (100-91)Top 100 (80-71)

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