A GUEST POSTING by ERIC (from Oakland)
I really struggled between two concepts on this one. Career retrospective, or just my favorite songs? The first record I have is Growing Up Absurd, so I never really listened to the first 3 singles (She’s Got a Fever, Big Hip, and My Baby in Black) before this week. Then there is a clear point in 1989 when the sound changes considerably (most notably by the absence of trumpet). While there are some good post-trumpet songs, none of it would make it into my top 10. In the end I decided that this ICA would be the ICA of The Brilliant Corners as I remember them – ‘85-88′.
There were a few singles that preceded Growing Up Absurd, but there is good reason most comps start here. It’s here the BCs finally find the sound that will serve them well in the coming years. The guitar solo at the end is a nice intro to a classic BC trick, just slightly at odds with the rest of the band, but in a good way. It provides just enough tension to get your attention without killing the vibe.
An introduction to a theme that will run throughout Davey Woodward’s work. Short simple and to the point. No mucking around.
Good morning, c86. From the opening guitar to the break and return and plenty of jingle jangle. The Fruit Machine EP finally brought everything together in to 4 glorious songs. No trumpet on this track but it’s on some of the others. Any of them could be on this comp, but I’m trying to keep it to 10 ;).
The song that put them on the map, and for good reason. The opening guitar work is worth the price of admission alone. I grew up on this version found on What’s in a Word. The production values on the single version are superior, but there’s a little string lic in the chorus that jars me every time and takes me out of the song. I’m sure there are others who feel an unspeakable emptiness in their gut when they get to that point on the album and the strings are missing. To each their own.
This is my favorite BC Song. I can’t get enough of it. There’s just something about the way it’s all put together, from the unusual bop ba da da bop cold start through to the brilliant trumpet line. This is my go-to whenever I need a little pickmeup. BC firing on all cylinders to be sure. It’s a toss up between this and “Why do you have to…” for my favorite BC record cover.
Somebody Up There Likes Me is one of those records that I never get tired of. Every song is cracking and this lead single was no exception. Just enough production punch up to fill out the sound without wrecking the delicate balance.
What a song. So simple but so devastating. I was obsessed with this song when it came out.
Somebody Up There Likes Me presented the hardest choices for this comp. In the end With A Kiss floated up just for being a straight up ripper. It’s the last song on the album, begging you to flip it and start over again.
Looking back now this really is as good as anything from this era, with a bonus appearance from one Amelia Fletcher. What’s not to like? For some reason whenever I stumble upon this today, a horrible review pops up accusing the BCs of taking things one step too far. Oh well. I still love it. And that record cover. Perfect.
This song knocked my socks off when I first heard it. The opening is so clean and classic and perfect BCs. Then toward the end the guitar comes in with a raucous squeal that builds to a glorious cacophony. It’s almost as if they had decided to drive a knife right in the heart of their twee c86 sound. Kill it dead right there. I don’t know if that’s what really happened, but it certainly has that affect, because after this single they were never quite the same…
After “Why Do You Have…” things really did change. I do remember feeling like they were making a conscious decision to shift their sound, and I remember being excited to see where it would go. And while the next few albums are good, I can’t say they are great. They aren’t the kind of thing that makes diehard fans remember the glory years, if you know what I mean.
I’m not sure what they were going for but it’s worth noting a number of heavier movements were emerging in the US around that time; The Pixies and Soundgarden were just starting to pick up steam. The BC sound definitely got thicker and of course the trumpet is totally gone. It feels like they were suddenly on the back foot, chasing the Americans to a more muscular sound, and didn’t quite catch up. Change is hard.
Still there are some good songs from the post trumpet era. You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are, White Gates, and The Pope The Monkey and The Queen were dangling on the end of this list before I settled on my final 10. Hooked really is a nice album, an improvement over the largely forgettable Joyride. Sadly it’s not on Spotify but if you really want to check it out I’m sure you can find it. I’ve never listened to their final album, A History of White Trash, so I cannot report back on that one. My experiences are really just from a teenager in California listening to what records made the journey out west. If you’re looking for more context and history and Bristol scene info, check out
Eric from Oakland
PS: I also created a Spotify playlist for folks who like it like that.
One nice thing about the Spotify playlists – when you finish the songs Spotify starts playing things like The Go-Betweens and The Monochrome Set. I ended up listening for quite some time before realizing I had a job to do 🙂