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.



It was as recently as last September that I featured The Corn Dollies and their rather excellent debut single Forever Steven courtesy of it being part of the C87 boxset that was issued by Cherry Red Records.  I did comment that the b-side, Be Small Again, was a track that paid more than a nodding debt to Lloyd Cole and The Commotions, and also made reference, via the commentary in the C87 booklet that a later single, Shake, was another that seemed to do the same.

I picked up a second-hand copy of said 7″ single…..

mp3 : The Corn Dollies – Shake

Can’t be denied can it?  Not just the tune but the vocal delivery is almost as if lead singer Steve Musham was auditioning for a part on Stars In Their Eyes…..

Here’s the b-side to that particular single. It could almost pass as a cover version:-

mp3 : The Corn Dollies – Climbing Stairs

Enjoyable stuff nevertheless……



The idea of this particular series is to pick out bands that were part of the C87 triple-CD set issued by Cherry Red Records last year, with the proviso that they had to be making their debut on this blog.

It’s a bit of a cheat this week as it’s turn of The Corn Dollies who were previously part of this post back in January 2014, but as it was a cover version I’m prepared to be flexible to enable a first appearance with one of their own tunes.

Track 24 on CD 2.

mp3 : The Corn Dollies – Forever Steven

Here’s what the info booklet says:-

THE CORN DOLLIES came out of the traps with their Byrds-styled, Robert Forster-produced debut single, ‘Forever Steven’, released on their own Farm label before being snapped up and re-released by Medium Cool after the Manchester label unleashed their second single ‘Be Small Again’. With their chiming guitar sound overlaid with strong harmonies, The Corn Dollies followed with ‘Shake’ which revealed a debt to Lloyd Cole, but toughened up for the more robust sound of singles ‘Map Of The World’ and ‘Nothing Of You’. The band’s debut album ‘Wrecked’ appeared on Midnight Music in 1989, in the wake of an eponymous compilation circulated to capitalise on the band’s popularity in France and Spain. After the baggy-influenced ‘Joyrider!’, the band split in 1990.

The band were a five-piece from London, consisting of Steve Musham (vocals and guitar), Tim Sales (guitar), Steve Ridder (bass), Jack Hoser (drums), and Jono Podmore (violin). They provided support to a solo tour undertaken by Ian McCulloch in 1990, so some of you may actually have caught them live on occasion.

I’ve also fished out the second 45 referred to in the booklet, and it too pays more than a nod to the sound of the Commotions.  It’s enjoyable enough but not a patch on the splendid debut.

mp3 : The Corn Dollies – Be Small Again




This is one of my own….but it was inspired by an idea and contribution from a reader.

Just the other week I featured the cover of Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) by The Wedding Present.  A comment from The Robster informed me that this was the band’s second take on that particular song as it had first been aired on an LP called Alvin Lives (In Leeds) : Anti Poll Tax Trax which, as the title suggests, was aimed at raising funds to help those campaigning against a particularly unpopular piece of government legislation.

Released in 1990, it consists of 12 indie acts doing cover versions.  As is often the case with a record like this, the output it is a bit hit and miss but what is quite astonishing is the sheer cheesiness of some of the choices:-


Lush – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep
Five Thirty – My Sweet Lord
Cud – Bohemian Rhapsody
The Popguns – Bye Bye Baby
Crocodile Ride – I Feel Love
Robyn Hitchcock – Kung Fu Fighting
Corn Dollies – Le Freak
The Wedding Present – Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
The Close Lobsters – Float On
14 Iced Bears – Summer Nights
The Siddeleys – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
The Perfect Disaster – Wanderin’ Star

It’s a bunch of huge hits from the 70s and  I kind of got the feeling that having been asked to be part of what was a worthy cause and then told they had to come up with a cover of a well-known record from the 70s, most of them then tried to think what could be the most ridiculous departure from the norm.

Special mention must be made of Cud.  They’ve taken one of the sacred cows of pomp rock and ripped the total pish out of it.  All the words and a semblance of the tune do appear to be in place but they bash the whole thing out in a little under three minutes:-

mp3 : Cud – Bohemian Rhapsody

Anyone can see (and hear), nothing really matters to them.

Elsewhere, the song taken on by Lush is more akin to a nursery rhyme but yet somehow in their hands it works as indie-pop with meaningless lyrics while Robyn Hitchock and his mates become human beatboxes on a crazy take of a novelty song:-:-

mp3 : Lush – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep
mp3 : Robyn Hitchcock – Kung Fu Fighting

As you’d expect, the Weddoes do their usual fine job (and it is marginally different than the version recorded with Steve Albini and made available on the 3 Songs EP) while  I was also quite taken by some parts of Le Freak in which The Corn Dollies occasionally do a fine tribute to Gang Of Four:-

mp3 : The Corn Dollies – Le Freak

There were a few disappointments, none more so than The Close Lobsters whose take on what I’ve thought was always an appalling song somehow made me long for the original although the biggest waste of vinyl has to go to Five Thirty for what is a pointless re-tread of the George Harrison hit.

When this LP was mentioned in the comments, my dear mate Dirk from Sexy Loser professed his love for this track:-

mp3 : The Siddeleys – Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)

It’s one that didn’t jump out on first hearing but I’ve persisted and now fallen for its charms.

In summary, Alvin Lives (In Leeds) is, like so many other projects of this nature, a mixed-bag, but I was delighted to have been given the opportunity to learn about it after all these years.  Hope those of you who aren’t familiar with the versions featured today will appreciate them.

Thanks Robster.