I HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME (but I wasn’t quite sure….)

A band named after a word in a Buzzcocks lyric and who took their inspiration from Orange Juice. Tailor-made for this blog if you ask me……

I’ll hold my hands up and say that Razorcuts were one from the C86 era that completely passed me by. I was heavily dependent on Jacques the Kipper, after the fact, for my education on the genre and this lot were never featured on any of the many lovingly-crafted homemade C90s he handed to me. I’ve picked up on them from a number of their songs being included in the numerous boxsets that era has spawned in recent years. They featured previously on the blog back in 2015 with I’ll Still Be There, a b-side to an early single lifted from the CD86 compilation issued by Cherry Red Records in which I said:-

…while it is far from a bad song – the tune is actually fine – the dreadful sub-standard vocal performance borders on the unlistenable. It is also a perfect example of the off-putting whining, struggling-to-hit-the-right notes delivery that quickly became synonymous with much of the C86 genre and which led to its rather prompt demise.

Thankfully, there’s better to be found on the later CD87 boxset which features the lead track on a EP released that year on Flying Nun Records:-

mp3 : Razorcuts – I Heard You The First Time

The reverse of the sleeve advises that the personnel were Gregory Webster (guitars, vocals), Tim Vass (bass, tambourine), David Swift (drums) and Angus Stevenson (guitars), with help from John on Hammond Organ and Yvonne on vocals.

The band was formed in 1986, in Oxford, by Webster and Vass. They had actually been friends for a number of years back in their home town of Luton but had both relocated to the university town, with Webster living with his girlfriend, Liz Price, who herself would form Talulah Gosh with Amelia Fletcher, so it really was quite the fantastic twee/indie scene for a while. Vass was a huge fan of Buzzcocks, seemingly following them all over the UK when they toured (which would also have enabled him to catch a fair number of support slots by Joy Division).

It was the emergence of Postcard Records that made the dream of a band move closer to reality. Razorcuts emerged out of an earlier attempt at recording under the name The Cinemamatics with new focus being an attempt to fuse their two biggest influences along with the 60s jangle of The Byrds, even down to the idea that Razorcuts would primarily be a singles band. Like many of their contemporaries, they got their break via the Bristol-based Subway Organisation label with two singles – Big Pink Cake and Sorry To Embarrass You – being issued in 1986. Razorcuts had an unusual approach to song writing in that the music came, for the most part, courtesy of Webster and the lyrics from Vass….but it was Webster who did the singing. They also enjoyed playing live, striking up friendships with many others in the scene and happy to contribute songs to the flexidiscs that came came via the emerging fanzines movement.

1987 saw the EP featured today, after which the band were signed by Alan McGee to Creation Records, itself beginning to make a name as the quintessential UK home of indie-guitar bands of the late 80s. The bizarre thing about their time with Creation is that Razorcuts released two full length LPs and contributed to a number of label compilations, but did not (as far as I can tell) release any 45s during their two-year stint on the label. They moved on the Caff Organisation for who there was a one-off single in 1990 before seemingly calling it a day the year after.

Razorcuts have never reformed, but there was a compilation CD pulled together back in 2002 around which Gregory Webster gave some interviews, and there’s a very telling contribution in one of them:-

“There was a very distinctive Razorcuts sound, which is the sound that everybody loves now even after all these years. People still dig that sound. We tried to do things a little differently and we were good at what we did and I guess that was the issue. We never claimed, right from day one, to be able to play our instruments properly. We were genuine people who liked what we thought was incredibly good music and wanted to replicate it , taking it down to the lowest common denominator because we didn’t have the musicianship to be able to do anything else. “

Here’s the other tracks on the 87 EP:-

mp3 : Razorcuts – First Day
mp3 : Razorcuts – Eight Times Around The World
mp3 : Razorcuts – A Is For Alphabet

JC

4 thoughts on “I HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME (but I wasn’t quite sure….)

  1. Thank you for the post. I love those first two singles from 1986. I don’t think they could ever quite find that magic dust again. The b-sides are great too. I love “Summer In Your Heart.” True manic pop thrill, shambolic and shimmering.

  2. Really interesting post, JC – and top twee pop to accompany it. Great
    sleeve too.

  3. Happy to read you have come around on Razorcuts a bit. I remember that previous post well. I have their entire catalog, and I followed Gregory Webster through his years in the underappreciated all-star band Sportique. One of my great finds in the past year was Sarah 54, the Forever People’s 7″ of Invisible. That’s Webster and Vass briefly reunited in 1992. Having said all that, I agree with Gavin on those early singles. My favorite song Razorcuts ever did was the 1984 demo of Sometimes I Worry About You that Bob Stanley put out on Caff in 1990.

  4. These songs seem to exist with the sole purpose of bringing smiles to forlorn faces.
    Those wonderful 60s-style vocals and beautiful jangle guitars are a sure fire winner.

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