I recently treated myself to a copy of Scared to Get Happy: A Story of Indie-Pop 1980–1989. It was released back in June 2013 by Cherry Red Records and consists of five CDs with more than songs from indie bands and singers from the decade. It doesn’t claim to be the full story as there are a number of key elements missing due to licensing issues – nothing for instance from Orange Juice, Felt, The Smiths, The Vaselines, The Pastels or My Bloody Valentine – but it’s a damn fine effort.

I already had the majority of the songs in one shape or other – either the original vinyl or via other CD compilations issued by Cherry Red or Rough Trade – but there’s a good number that were new to me and therefore will be new to the blog. Such as today’s effort:-

mp3: Art Objects – Showing Off To Impress The Girls

The bio from all music advises:-

The Art Objects were an offbeat British group whose embrace of noisy, non-melodic guitar figures and strong psychedelic influences paved the way for post-punk acts such as Echo & the Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes. Formed in Bristol in the southwest of Great Britain, the Art Objects began in mid-1978 as an eccentric three-piece featuring spoken vocals from poet Gerard Langley, fractured guitar accompaniment from Jonathan J. Key (aka Jonjo), and dancing by Wojtek Dmochowski. They adopted a more conventional lineup in the summer of 1979 when drummer John Langley joined the band, soon followed by bassist Bill Stair and second guitarist Robin Key (Jonathan’s brother).

In 1980, the Art Objects released a three-song single for the Fried Egg label, featuring the tracks “Hard Objects,” “Biblioteque,” and “Fit of Pique”; the record was a modest success on the independent charts, and a second single soon followed, “Showing Off (To Impress the Girls)” and “Our Silver Sister.” Heartbeat Records, which released the group’s second single, wanted an album from the Art Objects, and Bagpipe Music was recorded during five days of sessions in the summer of 1980. It was nearly a year before Bagpipe Music was finally released, and shortly after it reached stores, the group split up, with Gerard Langley, Wojtek Dmochowski, and John Langley soon forming a new group, the Blue Aeroplanes; most of the songs of the Blue Aeroplanes’ debut album, Bop Art, began as Art Objects tunes, and Bill Stair, Jonathan J. Key, and Robin Key helped out during the recording. In 2007, an expanded reissue of Bagpipe Music was released by British indie label Cherry Red.

I know there’s a few fans of The Blue Aeroplanes out there who probably knew all this already but, as I mentioned earlier, it was all new to me.

Showing Off To Impress The Girls is a very fine sounding sub-three-minute single, with a lead vocal that is almost spoken rather than sung….and reminds me of the way that Robert Forster delivered his vocals in the early days of The Go-Betweens. The tune has a lot going on in the background too, changing pace and tempo a couple of times, with the hint of a Tom Verlaine-style guitar break towards the end being a particular highlight.

I couldn’t find a copy of the b-side anywhere, short of looking to grab a hold of the original vinyl on the second-hand market, so here instead is the lead track from the debut EP:-

mp3: Art Objects – Hard Objects

Keep tuning in this week some more instalments from Scared To Get Happy.



  1. We went to both BAs Xmas shows in Bristol in 2018 and included in the setlist on both nights was ‘Showing Off…’. Not a regular occurrence by any means but it illustrates that Gerard still has a soft spot for the song.

  2. Never heard these songs and I love them. You can hear exactly where Blue Aeroplanes came from. I don’t understand the Allmusic description at all: the music isn’t ‘noisy’ and the guitars are elegant and melodic. Nothing psychedelic about it. Agree with JC’s observation about the Verlaine-esque lead at the end of ‘Showing Off’.
    Thanks for these–going into heavy rotation right now.

  3. I remember mentioning this compilation once or twice when you ran the C86 series some time back. Like you, I was familiar with, and indeed owned, many of the tracks, but there were sufficient on there that had passed me by to make it a worthwhile purchase. This was one that had passed me by, too.

  4. When Cherry Red reissued Bagpipe Music is when this Blue Aeroplanes fan first found about Art Objects. Hearing it the first time, so much of what I love about BA made so much more sense. The album reminds me in places, of how Magazine approached their version of Post Punk, with so many Art Rock and Glam nuances, to create something special. Gered Langley has this youthful conviction in his delivery that, with time, would become more weathered, world weary with Blue Aeroplanes.
    Fave Art Objects track – Passengers Of Fortune.

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