A lot of the stuff from the C86 movement hasn’t aged well.  In many cases, this will be down to poor production which nowadays grates on the ear while all too often the off-key singing which in its day seemed to be part of the charm now sounds annoying.

But there are still some songs that, almost 30 years on, deserve to be thought of as absolute classics.   It’s a crying shame that so many of the small indie  labels weren’t able to give the records the push they needed to crossover into the conscious of mainstream listeners.  All too often, the label and indeed the band seemed happy enough to settle for a few playings on the John Peel Show, a positive review in the NME and then an appearance somewhere in the indie Top 10.  I’m not saying that was the case with today’s tune, but there is seemingly something seriously wrong when a song as brilliant as this has to settle for #4 on the Indie Chart:-

mp3 : The Chesterfields – Ask Johnny Dee

They were in existence from 84-89 during which time there were two studio LPs and eight singles/EPs.  They toured extensively (I saw them once as support act to Edwyn Collins on one of his earliest solo tours) and like so many bands picked up a decent sized hardcore following. many of whom (according to wiki) referred to them as “The Chesterf!elds”, with an exclamation mark replacing the “i”, following the example of the band’s logo.

Tragically, lead singer and main songwriter Dave Goldsworthy died in November 2003, at the age of 40, from head injuries sustained in a hit & run incident in Oxford.

One thing to mention is that The Chesterfields,  like Orange Juice, did a cover of a great Vic Godway track.  I thought it would be an idea to post all three versions:-

mp3 : Vic Goddard & The Subway Sect – Holiday Hymn
mp3 : Orange Juice – Holiday Hymn
mp3 : The Chesterfields – Holiday Hymn



  1. Its really great to hear The Chesterfields again after all these years.

    How about some June brides in the next post? /Jacke Stockholm

  2. This was going to be my nomination for the next cult single. A lot of the c86 type bands had a great single in them but struggled across a whole lp. This was by far their finest hour. In those days top 10 in the indie chart actually meant a pretty decent amount of sales.

  3. Splendid stuff. Now where do you stand on SHIMMER by The Flatmates – only #2 in the indie charts in 1988…?

    Being sad i’ve just googled what kept such a perfect indie record from the top of the charts – Ship Of Fools by Erasure… mmmm

    i can’t find what kept the chesterfields off no1 so you’ll just have to imagine it was the smiths…

  4. Hadn’t heard this for yeeeeeears until Gideon Coe played it on 6Music a couple weeks ago. I agree that many of the C86 records haven’t aged well but they do retain a certain charm and a few of them are still good to hear. ‘Talulah Gosh’ by Talulah Gosh is one of them, this is another.

  5. Hi JimDoes. Funny, but Erasure was also No. 1 when the Chesterfields were No. 4. The song was It Doesn’t Have to Be, and it went to the top spot on Feb. 28, 1987. It stayed there for a whopping eight weeks. The No. 1 that preceded it was Shoplifters of the World Unite, and the next No. 1 after it was Sheila Take a Bow. So, you were just about right guessing the Smiths.

    Thanks goes to my favorite reference book… Indie Hits 1980-1989, compiled by Barry Lazell. Not a week goes by I’m not looking at it for one reason or another.

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