The debut single by The Train Set, was released in September 1988, but I only became aware of it, and them, through the release of the 3x CD C88 box set on Cherry Red Records back in 2017.
mp3: The Train Set – She’s Gone
Here’s the blurb from the accompanying booklet;-
The Train Set’s ‘She’s Gone’ made Single of The Week in NME and was the highest entry of the week in the indie charts upon release – not bad for a debut offering. Hailing from Crewe (the band chose the name to cryptically reference Crewe’s legendary train station) and rehearsing om a small farm in Cheshire, The Train Set quickly found itself touring with the Happy Mondays and James among others. With a sound falling somewhere between that of the guitar work of Johnny Marr and the vocals of Ian McCulloch, ‘She’s Gone’ was followed up by 1989’s ‘Hold On’. Additional tracks weren’t unveiled until Firestation Records curated the well-received compilation, Never California (2015).
I was surprised to easily find an official website devoted to The Train Set, but then again, I didn’t know the band had reformed shortly before the C88 box set had come out. From the info on the website, I can add that the band consisted of Clive Jones (vocals), Andy Boote (guitars), Mark Shaw (bass), Adam Halford (drums) and Dave Hassall (keyboards). Many hours of rehearsing and writing paid off when after a demo tape led to them being signed by the Manchester-based label, Play Hard.
The debut single, which was pressed up only on 12″ vinyl, was indeed given rapturous praise in the NME:-
“The Train Set have done their growing up in private and will now have no trouble copping off with the entire teenage nation of orphaned Smiths fans. Anyone who can rhyme ‘Avignon’ with ‘Warrington’ deserves the last of the Blue Peter badges. Puts every other debut single release this week in the shade.”
An interview with the Louder Than War website in 2017 provides the info on what happened next.
“It was great to get such fantastic reviews for our first single. It was also great to hear John Peel play it and say very positive things about it. One minute nobody had heard of us, the next we had sold out of all our initial pressings in one week. It was a great single.
Then the bad news – nobody else could get hold of She’s Gone. It sold out of the first run of pressings in five days so we needed more and when Play Hard rang up the pressing plant to print more copies to meet demand they were told that they could not press anymore. When asked why, they were told to contact Red Rhino (the distributors) who then told Play Hard that they had gone into liquidation that week. So there we were promoting a single nobody could get their hands on.”
The second single ended up being delayed and that initial burst of energy and momentum, which included those shows with James and Happy Mondays in October 1993, was wasted.
Straight after the second single the bass player decided to quit, and by the time a nee recruit was found, the band had lost contact with their label. There was some interest from other labels, but before anything could happen, the drummer called it a day and the singer decided to go to university, thus bringing an end to the band, until their revival in 2016 to capitalise on the hugely positive reviews for the Firestation compilation, with some live gigs, culminating in the Shiiine On Weekender festival in November 2016.
Here’s the two other tracks from the debut single:-
mp3: The Train Set – Stop Stallling (Sob Stories)
mp3: The Train Set – Beautiful Monster
It was, I’d like to think you’ll agree, a very fine debut. It’s a 45 that, if the unfortunate circumstances around the collapse of Red Rhino hadn’t occurred, would likely have been something of a minor hit.