It was back in October 2015 that I previously featured The Flatmates on the blog. It was part of a year-long series looking at bands who had featured on the C86 triple-CD issued by Cherry Red Records in which I gave as much of a bio as I could from what I’d been able to glean while saying lots of positive things about their debut single I Could Be In Heaven.

There were a few very welcome comments added by readers, with some folk taking the opportunity to update the story I’d given with info that the band had, of sorts, reformed. Brian, from Linear Tracking Lives, is a huge fan of the C86 genre and he simply said “The band’s best moment… although Shimmer was pretty damn good too.”

I picked up a 12″ copy of Shimmer a wee while back. And as the heading of the post indicates, my great friend from Seattle was, yet again, on the money:-

mp3 : The Flatmates – Shimmer

Another Buzzcocks meets Shangri-Las type of song. Great fun.

Three tracks on the b-side:-

mp3 : The Flatmates – On My Mind
mp3 : The Flatmates – If Not For You
mp3 : The Flatmates – Bad

The middle track is a cover of a Bob Dylan track….one which actually means a lot to me.

It was back in 2000 when my young brother Stevie got married over in Orlando where he’d been living for about six years. The whole family and a number of his close friends went over for the occasion and I was asked, in advance, if I could read something appropriate which nodded to America, but nothing religious (Stevie is all too aware of my atheist tendencies).

I spoke to a few friends over here about it, including someone who had a huge knowledge of folk music as I thought that might be where I’d find inspiration, and it was he who said the words to If Not For You would work well.

And he was right.

If not for you
Babe, I couldn’t find the door
Couldn’t even see the floor
I’d be sad and blue
If not for you

If not for you
Babe, I’d lay awake all night
Wait for the mornin’ light
To shine in through
But it would not be new
If not for you

If not for you
My sky would fall
Rain would gather too
Without your love I’d be nowhere at all
I’d be lost if not for you
And you know it’s true

If not for you
My sky would fall
Rain would gather too
Without your love I’d be nowhere at all
Oh! what would I do
If not for you

If not for you
Winter would have no spring
Couldn’t hear the robin sing
I just wouldn’t have a clue
Anyway it wouldn’t ring true
If not for you

The Flatmates version is far more danceable mind you….and they make it sound like one of their own!

Oh, and because it was a second-hand copy of the single, I didn’t get to read the ‘free flatsharing guide’ given away back in the day.




You know that famous Marlon Brando line from On The Waterfront? Well this lot really coulda been contenders for the indie-pop crown in the late 80s.

There’s a great story as to how they got their name in that a local journalist in Bristol was interviewing the drummer and asked who else was in the group. The reply of ‘oh it’s just me and my flatmates’ provided the light-bulb apove the head moment for all concerned.

The thing is The Flatmates were, for the most part, literally folk who lived together under the one roof. It was singer/guitarist Martin Whitehead who was the initial mainstay of the band in 1985. He recruited Rocker on drums whose roommate Kath Beach came in on bass. Yet another roommate – Debbie Haynes – then joined to take on vocal duties allowing Whitehead to concentrate on lead guitar.

Whitehead had a finger in many pies in the scene building up in Bristol, including the management of the most revered indie venue in the city, which enabled The Flatmates to offer themselves as support act for any singer or band passing through – and there were many as a result of the C86 movement.

By October 1986 they were able to release their debut single on Subway Organisation Records which had been founded by, yup you guessed it, Martin Whitehead. By now there was a real buzz about the band with much positive press and reviews.  And no wonder, as it was an absolute belter of a 45, described with great accuracy by one critic as a fusion of Buzzcocks with The Shangri-Las :-

mp3 : The Flatmates – I Could Be In Heaven

After ust eight gigs Kate Beach quit the band and and was replaced by Sarah Fletcher – it wasn’t the last time in what was a short history that the Flatmates fell out – the drummer was next to go (although to be fair it was the need to concentrate on her career as a dental surgeon more than anything else which forced the change) ; then the replacement bass player was herself replaced.

In the meantime, a second guitarist – Tim Rippington – was recruited but in less than a year had been sacked after turning up drunk at a gig at the University of London and fightig with the rest of the band as well as members of the audience.  This was not twee pop by any stretch of the imagination.

The band split for good in late 1989 with just five singles to show for their efforts.  But they are still very fondly remembered by many.

It was the debut single which appears on CD 86 and here’s the two tracks that made up its b-side:-

mp3 : The Flatmates – Tell Me Why
mp3 : The Flatmates – So In Love With You