THE COLLECTED SINGLES OF THE CORN DOLLIES

Before dealing with the scheduled business of the day, I really want to say a huge thanks to everyone who dropped by yesterday and left behind such wonderfully encouraging words via the comments section.

As I scrolled down through all the responses late last night, it increasingly felt as if I’d written some sort of editorial which had generated an unprecedented amount of ‘Readers Letters’.  I ended up with a big stupid grin on my face for the simple fact that it merely confirmed everything I’ve always felt about the sense of community and togetherness that is out there.

A couple of apologies.

I really should have given a shout-out yesterday to Post Punk Monk as his blog has been on the go for well over a decade, and in terms of analytical content he hits heights that I can only aspire to.  My bad.

I also want to say sorry if anyone got any sense that the piece was on the back of me having negative thoughts and looking to pack up my tent.

It actually was more my response to the shock/surprise/regret that a number of very talented and dedicated bloggers have called it a day in recent times, and I just wanted to reflect on how the times, they are a changing.  Rest assured, I’m well motivated to keep things going just now.

Now, where was I?

Oh yes……the couple of previous occasions when The Corn Dollies have featured were met with real indifference, except from Friend of Rachel Worth, a real old acquaintance of this small corner of t’internet. This time round, I’ll try to offer up something of a bio, as well as the chance to listen to the A-sides of the first five of their six singles.  The info out there is quite scant, and as you’ll see from the fact that I’ve has to use a sleeve of one of the singles, I couldn’t even source a decent image of them.

The Corn Dollies were from London, and were around between 1987 and 1991. The three original members, Steve Musham (voice/guitar), Tim Sales (guitar), and Jack Hoser (drums) were joined by Californian bass player Steve Ridder, and in July 1987 released their first single, Forever Steven, produced by Robert Forster of The Go-Betweens, on their own Farm Label. It got a fair amount of critical acclaim, seemingly being named as ‘single of the Week’ in two of the UK’s weekly music papers, Sounds and Record Mirror.

This helped them land a deal with Medium Cool Records, home to The Raw Herbs, The Waltones and The Siddeleys, all doyens of the UK indie scene in the later half of the 80s.  Label boss, Andy Wake, convinced the rest of the band that Juno Podmore, a violinist brought in for a particular recording session, should join on a full-time basis.

They debuted the new label with Be Small Again, which was followed up by a re-release of Forever Steven, both of them making dents in the UK indie chart.

Three more singles on Medium Cool would follow during 1988 and 1989, with work continuing in the background on a debut LP.  Sadly, the sudden collapse of its distributor saw Medium Cool go to the wall, and The Corn Dollies moved to Midnight Music, with the label able to rescue and issue the self-titled debut album

1990 was spent recording a follow-up album, Wrecked, for which much of the promotional efforts were centred around a UK tour in which they provided support to Ian McCulloch.  The second album was quite different sounding from the earlier material and very little in common with the music being made by the bands whom they had emerged alongside back in the Medium Cool days.  Work did get underway in 1991 on a planned third album, based largely on the fact that although not doing well in the UK, there were some hints of a fanbase in France and Spain, but at some point Steve Ridder made the decision to return home to America and the rest of the band called it a day. The aptly named third album, Past Caring, was quietly shelved.

mp3: The Corn Dollies – Forever Steven (July 87)
mp3: The Corn Dollies – Be Small Again (October 87)
mp3: The Corn Dollies – Shake (July 88)
mp3: The Corn Dollies – Map Of The World (October 1988)
mp3: The Corn Dollies – Nothing Of You (April 1989)

Here’s the promo for the final single, released in January 1991.

As I’ve said before, I reckon Steve Musham could do a great impression of Lloyd Cole on any talent show, and the music of the first three singles is reminiscent in places of early R.E.M. and their ilk.  Things change with from Map of The World onwards, and is the sound of a band looking to find a new identity just as guitar music is about to go out of fashion and baggy is peering its head around the corner.

In many ways, this is the blog sort of returning to its roots.  All the mp3s are from 7″ or 12″ singles, sourced over the years from second-hand markets and of songs not really that widely available, albeit the vinyl itself, should you be inclined, remains cheap to pick up via Discogs.

JC

5 thoughts on “THE COLLECTED SINGLES OF THE CORN DOLLIES

  1. I will sometimes still play Map of The World – it is a thing a beauty!

    In other news… I met The CDs individually around 1992; it was all over for them by then, but I answered an ad in MM for a ‘guitar/vocalist player into noise, rhythm & feedback’ and joined immediately a north London band called Gorgeous Space Virus – of which J. Hoser was the drummer. We had a great live career for a couple of years supporting some amazing bands – Smashing Pumpkins, Kingmaker, Lush, Thin White Rope, Swervedriver… and had some ebullient championing from MM (esp. Jon Seltzer I seem to recall). The record company sniffs came to nothing but paid for some demo time…of which Steve Musham and (the 5th Corn Dolly) Jono Podmore produced. Good times!

  2. I may have told this story on the Internet before, but of the few times i saw the Corn Dollies the one that stood out was at South Street Reading in about 1991. The gig was proceeding as expected until one song came to a sudden stop as the singer demanded to know where a member of the audience had got their (Corn Dollies) t-shirt from.
    It turned out they had only printed up a small amount of them, which were stolen from a car slmost immediately – so the band were very keen on knowing how this bloke had got hold of one.

  3. Indeed, nice jangle! Definitely a bit of cross between REM with a Lloyd Cole-ish singer! Echoing ‘anoynmous’ above, a band which I missed here in the US. It’s a treat to hear these for the first time.
    Again, another T(n)VV introduction for me.

  4. Only heard the debut – from C87 – previously and it had completely washed over me. Now listening to the set of singles, more distinctive and worth more listens. Especially like Shake.
    Thanks JC.

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