As I said last week, there’s an incredible amount of the CD86 bands who came from Scotland…and here’s yet another.

Shop Assistants first came to some sort of prominence back in November 1984 with the release of the Stephen Pastel produced single Something To Do under the moniker of Buba & the Shop Assistants.  The line-up as well as the name was to change quite dramatically shortly afterwards with the recruitment of a striking looking new vocalist and a critically acclaimed EP released by the Subway Organisation in August 1985 with lead track All Day Long much championed by Morrissey.

The band was now a seemingly settled line-up of Alex Taylor (vocals), David Keegan (guitar), Sarah Neale (bass), Laura McPhail (drums) and Ann Donald (drums) although the last of these names would leave and join Fizzbombs (as featured last Sunday).

In February 1986, bass player Keegan and the afore-mentioned Mr Pastel decided to found 53rd & 3rd Records to try to promote the work of up and coming Scottish bands and the first release on the label would be the song later included on CD 86:-

mp3 : Shop Assistants – Safety Net

It’s a tremendous piece of pop which, and although very much of its time complete with an inexpensive, fuzzbox production, it still sounds great almost 30 years on.  It would be voted into the Peel Festive Fifty at #8 at the end of the year and spend more than four months in the indie charts.  This was a band brimming with talent and confidence, helped along the way by the NME including one of the Subway tracks as the opening song on the b-side of the C86 tape, and therefore it was no surprise that the major labels were quickly knocking on their door.

They signed to an offshoot of Chrysalis Records and in 1987 they released a single and self-titled album before they surprisingly decided to split up with Ms Taylor taking her talents to Motorcycle Boy who themselves would end up on Chrysalis via a one-off single on Rough Trade.

Shop Assistants tried a comeback in 1989 with Sarah Neale taking on vocal duties and Margarita Vasquez-Ponte (supplying another Fizzbombs connection) joining the band but the two subsequent singles didn’t do much.

I’ve tracked down the two b-sides to Safety Net and I’ve no doubt you’ll like them.

mp3 : Shop Assistants – Somewehere In China
mp3 : Shop Assistants – Almost Made It

Oh and yes…..this single did feature previously in the blog back this time last year in the Scottish Singles Series.



One thought on “NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 24 of 48)

  1. I love Safety Net – another of those that still gets played by “Radio Gog” today. What little I heard of the Shop Assistants I liked. I even bought a couple of the Motorcycle Boy singles, with Big Rock Candy Mountain still getting a regular blast, too.

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