THE FESTIVE 50 OF 1989 (1 of 3)

The recent posting on Convenience by BOB made recent reference to it reaching #31 in the Peel Festive 50 of 1989. It was a year in which indie, no matter how loosely you choose to define the genre, gained a stranglehold on the rundown.

The Sundays took the #1 spot with the sublime Can’t Be Sure, but just below them were a bunch of bloke-fronted bands with multiple entries, four of whom – The Wedding Present, Pixies, Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets achieved the fairly rare outcome of having five songs in a single rundown. The other acts with multiple entries were Morrissey (3) and a couple who could deemed to be something of a surprise given the names of those acts who had just one song voted in:-

mp3 : Pale Saints – Sight Of You (#11)
mp3 : Pale Saints – She Rides The Waves (#25)
mp3 : Birdland – Hollow Heart (#28)
mp3 : Birdland – Paradise (#40)

The two Pale Saints songs were from their debut EP, Barging Into The Presence of God, released on 4AD in September 1989. They were a band that I never took that much notice of and anything I own of theirs has come via compilation LPs/CDs, but then again the whole shoegaze thing with which they were lumped in really left me cold at the time and I didn’t see things through with any of them.  But I do like these now that I’ve listened to them.

I think it’s rather obvious from what I’ve said and written about over the years on this blog that I prefer my boys (and girls) with guitars, for the most part, to make noises which were a bit more easy-going on the ear and capable of accommodating the throwing of strange shapes on the dance floor. But given that the Festive 50 of 1989 turned out to be heavily populated with that sort of stuff, it is pleasing that something so abstract and different gathered so many votes, especially as the songs had been released only a relatively short time previously and hadn’t enjoyed much exposure outside of late night radio.

Birdland were another act who you would be hard pushed to hear anywhere on your radio unless you tuned in when most folk were watching telly or trying to get some sleep. I know only of their name and have nothing by them on vinyl or CD, but looking into things I’ve learned that the entries into the Festive 50 were the band’s first two singles. It would also appear that the Manic Street Preachers owe just about everything to Birdland in terms of their initial sound and attitude, albeit they seemed to have slightly more sensible haircuts than the bleached blonde look that the boys from Birmingham relied on.

The interesting thing with both bands is that, having garnered great critical plaudits from the earliest of releases, they both suffered setbacks in 1990 with muted responses to the debut albums, neither of which incorporated the early singles/EPs.

I’m absolutely certain that there will be some of you out there who were hugely enthused by one or both bands when they emerged, perhaps even seeing them as the future of rock’n’roll as they dared to be a tad different from the norm, and I’d be very interested in hearing your views, thoughts and opinions on where and why it all went wrong for them. And if anyone wishes to send over a guest post or posts, then feel very free to drop me a line.

More from the Festive 50 of 1989 tomorrow and again on Wednesday.