It was back in October 2015 that I previously featured The Flatmates on the blog. It was part of a year-long series looking at bands who had featured on the C86 triple-CD issued by Cherry Red Records in which I gave as much of a bio as I could from what I’d been able to glean while saying lots of positive things about their debut single I Could Be In Heaven.

There were a few very welcome comments added by readers, with some folk taking the opportunity to update the story I’d given with info that the band had, of sorts, reformed. Brian, from Linear Tracking Lives, is a huge fan of the C86 genre and he simply said “The band’s best moment… although Shimmer was pretty damn good too.”

I picked up a 12″ copy of Shimmer a wee while back. And as the heading of the post indicates, my great friend from Seattle was, yet again, on the money:-

mp3 : The Flatmates – Shimmer

Another Buzzcocks meets Shangri-Las type of song. Great fun.

Three tracks on the b-side:-

mp3 : The Flatmates – On My Mind
mp3 : The Flatmates – If Not For You
mp3 : The Flatmates – Bad

The middle track is a cover of a Bob Dylan track….one which actually means a lot to me.

It was back in 2000 when my young brother Stevie got married over in Orlando where he’d been living for about six years. The whole family and a number of his close friends went over for the occasion and I was asked, in advance, if I could read something appropriate which nodded to America, but nothing religious (Stevie is all too aware of my atheist tendencies).

I spoke to a few friends over here about it, including someone who had a huge knowledge of folk music as I thought that might be where I’d find inspiration, and it was he who said the words to If Not For You would work well.

And he was right.

If not for you
Babe, I couldn’t find the door
Couldn’t even see the floor
I’d be sad and blue
If not for you

If not for you
Babe, I’d lay awake all night
Wait for the mornin’ light
To shine in through
But it would not be new
If not for you

If not for you
My sky would fall
Rain would gather too
Without your love I’d be nowhere at all
I’d be lost if not for you
And you know it’s true

If not for you
My sky would fall
Rain would gather too
Without your love I’d be nowhere at all
Oh! what would I do
If not for you

If not for you
Winter would have no spring
Couldn’t hear the robin sing
I just wouldn’t have a clue
Anyway it wouldn’t ring true
If not for you

The Flatmates version is far more danceable mind you….and they make it sound like one of their own!

Oh, and because it was a second-hand copy of the single, I didn’t get to read the ‘free flatsharing guide’ given away back in the day.



  1. A classic – One of my favourite records – when it came out a friend of mine described it as ‘the best 3 minutes of his life’ – he’d not had a girlfriend yet though…

  2. Just as a wee aside, I discovered the del Amitri biography in Maryhill Library last week. I recommend it to you. What a band, what a singer. Other than SAHB I’d say they are by far and away the best band Scotland ever produced – ye can forget WWW, Deacon Blue, Hue and Cry and bands like that, the dels win hands down.

  3. If joy had a sound Shimmer could certainly be it. Bold, noise-tinged pop that captivates and exhilarates. The sound of a specific generation of noise-nicks laid bare for all to hear. The Flatmates are much admired. Rightly so.

  4. Ah, my favorite band from my favorite label. I have been considering a weekend Subway series and this may have cinched it. The reason why I ever so slightly favor I Could Be in Heaven to Shimmer is the back and forth screams between Debbie and Sarah at the end of the song. it might be the best five seconds in indie pop. Great post, pal!

  5. ‘On My Mind’ is primitive appropriation of ‘Glass’ by Gang of Four. Just sayin’.

  6. Terrific post. A fine tribute to your brother. And, of course, a stonking single.

  7. Remember falling in love with Shimmer by The Flatmates when I heard the “Best of Subway Organization 1986-1989” (2005). I don’t know if it’s the same compilation we are talking about but we can agree on C86/Subway has some really good stuff.

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