A wee treat for y’ll today (or maybe not as there will be some, indeed possibly many, who just don’t get Bis and will be appalled by this particular release).

The Optimo Singles Club was a short-lived Glasgow label which was an offshoot of a very famous Sunday-night club here in the city. The club was founded in 1997 and ran until 2010. I never went near it, for at the age of 34 I genuinely believed my clubbing activities were over, although I was more than familiar with its venue – the Sub Club – which was famous for opening its doors and making its floor available to all sorts and styles of music, including indie ever since 1987 (when I was of an age to go inside!!).

Anyways….in 2002, the Optimo Singles Club released an EP called Fact2002 on which could be found Bis doing electro-flavoured cover versions of songs originally released on Factory Records. And here they are:-

mp3 : Bis – Love Will Tear Us Apart
mp3 : Bis – Hurt
mp3 : Bis – Shack Up
mp3 : Bis – Looking From A Hilltop




Ah Bis. Or so the advert so nearly said. For about five and a half minutes back in 1996, Bis were everywhere, the cover of the NME, first unsigned band on TOTP, Blue Peter, your local branch of Tesco (ok perhaps not that one).

This was largely down to the song ‘Kandy Pop’ from their first proper single ‘the Secret Vampire Soundtrack’. This was a catchy shouty pop song that the Nation, took to its hearts. It remains staple indie disco fodder to this day, although I haven’t been to an indie disco in roughly four years so that might be bollocks (and then I stayed for 27 minutes and left in huff when they played Pearl Jam).

It was official, Bis were ‘The Next Big Thing’. Four months later, they were no longer that fashionable, I think Embrace had turned up by then or the Bluetones or someone. Bis however became superstars in Japan, largely thanks I think to the presence of Manda Rin, the singer who had, people thought, a passing resemblance, perhaps, unfairly, to a Powderpuff Girl, at the time the most popular cartoon in Japan. Bis, also later recorded the exit music to the Powderpuff Girls Cartoon, which I don’t think helped.

Their popularity in the UK had waned a little, not helped by ‘The New Transistor Heroes’ what was described as being a distinctly average debut album, but that may have been helped by the burden of hype and expectation surrounding them.

This is Fake DIY was the follow up single to ‘Kandy Pop’ and is largely following the same progam. A catchy shouty pop song with a fuzzy garage disco feel to it. I rather like it. I always thought Bis should have been the Next Big Thing, and in Manda Rin, there was a likeable person, who seemed comfortable with perhaps being a spokesperson for a geeky generation.

mp3 : Bis – This Is Fake DIY

The last time I read anything Bis and in particular Manda, she was making a comfortable living selling and manufacturing badges. So today for the first time in I don’t how long I googled Bis (I think, ever) and they are unrecognisable from the cartoon 18 year olds that turned up in 1995. They still play live, regularly seen in Glasgow, London and some of the festival circuits. They are releasing new material – which is probably a good thing.


Note from JC

Bis were due to play a gig in Glasgow on 4  August 2013 ..and to quote from their own website, it was to feature a VERY pregnant Manda Rin.

That gig never went ahead as Manda went into labour that very same day, and in the early hours of 5 August she gave birth to a two-month premature boy.   But I’m delighted to pass on the news that  her son, who has been named Denny, is doing very well…….



S-WC outlined all sorts of reasons why cover versions are recorded.  As he mentioned, sometimes it can be for a tribute album.  From wiki:-

The Smiths Is Dead is a tribute album to the 1980s’ English alternative rock band The Smiths, released in 1996. It was compiled by the French cultural magazine Les Inrockuptibles and released to celebrate the 10th anniversary of 1986’s The Queen Is Dead. The album was released at the height of the Britpop phenomenon and contained covers by many popular Britpop acts such as The Boo Radleys, Supergrass, Bis and Placebo.

It’s very much a mixed bag and I think it’s accurate to say that none of the covers improve at all on the originals, but that would have been a near impossibility to begin with. The other biggest problems are that too many of the tracks fail to digress all that much from how The Smiths themselves recorded the songs or that the band asked to do the cover do so in a way that even Morrissey’s backing band would have been embarassed by the efforts.  However, an honourable mention must go to Boo Radleys for what is a hugely different take on the title track… that too me many years to really appreciate but nowadays is the only one I have on the i-pod :-

mp3 : Boo Radleys – The Queen Is Dead
mp3 : The High Llamas – Frankly, Mr. Shankly
mp3 : The Trash Can Sinatras – I Know It’s Over
mp3 : Billy Bragg – Never Had No One Ever
mp3 : The Frank & Walters – Cemetry Gates
mp3  : Placebo – Bigmouth Strikes Again
mp3 : Bis – The Boy with the Thorn in His Side
mp3 : Therapy? – Vicar in a Tutu
mp3 : The Divine Comedy – There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
mp3 : Supergrass – Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others



Back on 8 October 2011, I started a series called ‘Saturday’s Scottish Single’.  The aim was to feature one 45 or CD single by a Scottish singer or band with the proviso that the 45 or CD single was in the collection. I had got to Part 60-something and as far as Kid Canaveral when the rug was pulled out from under TVV.

I’ll catch up soon enough by featuring 5 at a time from the archives..


(16) Belle & Sebastian – Legal Man b/w : Judy Is A Dick Slap b/w Winter Wooskie : Jeepster CD Single (2000)

Read more about Belle & Sebastian here


(17) The Beta Band : Dry The Rain b/w I Know b/w B+A b/w Dog Got A Bone : Taken from Regal EP compilation (1998)

Read more about The Beta Band here


(18) Big Country – Fields Of Fire (alternative mix) b/w Fields of Fire b/w Angle Park : Phonogram 12″ (1983)

Read more about Big Country here


(19) The Big Dish : Miss America b/w From The Mission Bell To The Deep Blue Sea b/w The Town Celebrity :East West 12″ (1990)

Read more about The Big Dish here


(20) Bis – Kandy Pop b/w Secret Vampires b/w Teen-C Power b/w Diska : Chemikal Underground 7″ (1996)

Read more about Bis here