The news that you’ve run out of contributions for your Cult classics feature has finally spurred me into penning a few words (I thought you’d be inundated so I kept putting it off) – I hope you can still find room for it. Keep up the good work!
I first came across The Raw Herbs’ excellent single ‘She’s a Nurse’ on a compilation cassette called ‘Strum ‘n’ Drum’ given away with the short-lived indie magazine ‘Underground’ in, I think, 1987 and it remained, as far as I was concerned, a tantalising one-off until such a time as the internet came along and allowed all of us sad, anoraky types to finally chase down some of our little accumulated musical obsessions.
Apparently this East London band were only with us for a few short years in the late eighties before disappearing, as is the way, into the musical ether, despite having seemingly impeccable indie credentials: their first single, ‘Old Joe’, was a flexi disc and their third, ‘Don’t Bury Me Yet’, cracked the indie top twenty, both were on Manchester’s Medium Cool label. Unfortunately the fourth single – a 12″ entitled ‘The Second Time’ on their own Rooster Records – was also their last and, apart from a Janice Long Session and a few other oddments that you can pick up trawling the net, that’s the band’s whole slim legacy.
That said, all of their releases display in fine style that trademark eighties-indiepop jangle offset perfectly with a beautifully yearning, slightly braying vibrato vocal and occasional touches of harmonica, banjo and fiddle suggesting wider horizons and a possible interest in the country-twang of early ramshackle rock’n’roll.
‘She’s a Nurse…’ was the band’s second single (as more mathematically minded readers may already have deduced) and is narrowly the pick of the bunch, heralded by a propulsive harmonica-led twanging intro and coming on like a less cocksure, more Sarah Records version of the La’s, with vocalist Derek Parker seemingly unable to believe his own good fortune – not only is she a nurse, but “…she’s alright!” The Medium Cool singles were available as downloads on Amazon last time I looked (‘So Wired’, the languid b-side to ‘She’s a Nurse’, makes up a pitch-perfect 7″ package) and recent inclusions on the CD86 (‘He’s Blown In’, a ‘Second Time’ b-side )and ‘Scared To Get Happy’ (‘…Nurse’) compilations would seem to indicate that I’m not the only person who still remembers them.
All that’s needed now is for someone at LTM or Cherry Red to licence the whole catalogue and issue it on one handy-sized CD compilation – that’s an album that I already rank, in imaginary form, in my indiepop Top Ten, along with the likes of ‘Stardust’ by the Sea Urchins, ‘Snowball’ by the Field Mice, ‘Lyceum’ by the Orchids, Another Sunny Day’s ‘London Weekend’ or the Popguns’ ‘Snog.’
mp3 : The Raw Herbs – She’s A Nurse But She’s Alright
JC adds….anyone else that wants to submit a cult single and keep the Moz series at bay is more than welcome to drop me a line.