1986 was an important year in the history of the genre that has become known as indie-pop, characterised by the release of C86, a 22-song cassette compilation from the NME consisting of what were largely up and coming UK bands who were making guitar-based pop music that was a throwback to the Postcard and early Rough Trade era at the start of the decade.
It was a time when music was being made on the cheap and in a rough and ready fashion which harked back to the punk/new wave era, and it was no real surprise that the biggest music paper in the country focussed on what it hoped would the next new wave of music on the tenth anniversary of the birth of punk.
C86 did not generate any huge amount of commercial success with the vast majority of the bands involved never really getting beyond cult status. But there was something of a timeless quality tabout a number of the songs, and indeed of other contemporary songs which weren’t included on the cassette.
In 2006, CD86 was released to mark the 20th anniversary of C86. It consisted of 48 tracks, compiled by Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne, complete with a short essay in which he extolled the virtues of the movement with the statement:-
“It was the beginning of indie music. It’s hard to remember how underground guitar music and fanzines were in the mid-’80s. DIY ethics and any residual punk attitudes were in isolated pockets around the country, and the C86 comp and gigs brought them together”.
While I beg to differ about it being the birth of indie music (what had I spent my late teen and early 20s dancing to if it wasn’t indie?), I won’t disagree that the songs of the era have a certain charm and so, for the new Sunday series now that the Moz singles feature has again come to an end, I’m going to look at all 48 songs on the CD 86 compilation and where possible also feature the b-side if the song had been a 45.
Interestingly enough, the CD86 compilation only featured 3 of the original 22 songs which had been on C86, while seven of the 22 acts were omitted altogether – Stump, Bogshed, A Witness, Miaow. The McKenzies, Fuzzbox and The Shrubs – in his essay Bob Stanley offers the opinion that some groups on the NME compilation were genuinely dire and he specifically mentions The McKenzies, A Witness and Stump.
It is the case that each of C86 and CD86 opened with the same song by the one band that emerged from the movement to really experience worldwide fame and fortune over an extended period….just a pity for the genre that they made their fame and fortune from a totally different style of music!!
mp3 : Primal Scream – Velocity Girl
Clocking in at some 80 seconds in length, this just about perfectly encapsulates what the C86 movement was all about. The production was a long way removed from the slick and glossy material that was then dominating the charts, the band sounded as if they had only just got together for a bet or a laugh (or both) and the singer wasn’t blessed with the most natural of voices – but somehow it all came together in a way that was enchanting and entrancing.
Strangely enough, Velocity Girl was the b-side of the second ever Primal Scream single released on Creation Records back in 1986, but thanks to its inclusion on various compilation LPs over the year has become far better known than its a-side:-
mp3 : Primal Scream – Crystal Crescent
Tune in on the next 47 Sundays for the rest of the series…..