Shop Assistants were an indie pop band from Edinburgh, Scotland, formed in 1984, initially as Buba & The Shop Assistants. After achieving success with independent releases they signed to Chrysalis Records sublabel Blue Guitar, releasing their only album in 1986. After splitting in 1987, with singer Alex Taylor moving on to The Motorcycle Boy, they reformed for two further singles in 1990.
The original line-up was Aggi (Annabel Wright, later of The Pastels), on vocals, David Keegan (guitar), Sarah Kneale (bass), Laura MacPhail (drums) and Ann Donald (drums). This line-up released one single, the now highly-collectible “Something to Do” which was produced by Stephen Pastel. Stephen Pastel also contributed backing vocals.
Aggi left to be replaced by Alex Taylor. Soon after, the name shortened to simply ‘Shop Assistants’ and the first release under their new name was the Shopping Parade EP in 1985 on The Subway Organization, the lead track from which, “All Day Long” was described by Morrissey as his favourite single of that year. Ann Donald left round about November 1985 and was briefly replaced by Joan Bride (possibly a pseudonym!). Shopping Parade was followed in early 1986 with “Safety Net”, the first release on Keegan’s 53rd & 3rd Records, which peaked at number two in the UK Independent Chart, and the band recorded a national radio session with Janice Long and a second John Peel session, both of BBC’s Radio One.The exposure they gained from the sessions enabled the group to have two songs to be voted into John Peel’s Festive Fifty in both 1985 and 1986.
In 1986, they were featured on the NME’s compilation C86 with one of their slower songs, “It’s Up To You”, taken from Shopping Parade EP. Also in that year, they signed to Chrysalis Records’s sublabel Blue Guitar for another single, “I Don’t Wanna Be Friends With You” as well as their first and only LP album, Will Anything Happen. This spent one week at number 100 in the UK album charts, which gives the band the distinction of being the (joint) least successful act ever to hit the national charts. The album was re-released on CD in 2001, although it is now very hard to find.
The band split early in 1987, when Taylor left the group to join The Motorcycle Boy. After a two-year hiatus, the band reformed without Taylor in 1989 with Kneale on vocals and MacPhail on bass and the addition of Margarita Vasquez-Ponte of Jesse Garon And The Desperadoes.
And here is one of THE great indie-singles of the era:-
mp3 : Shop Assistants – Safety Net
mp3 : Shop Assistants – Almost Made It
mp3 : Shop Assistants – Somewhere In China
The song was first recorded for the band’s first session for John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show on 8 October 1985.It was recorded for release on 24 and 25 October 1985 at Pier House, Edinburgh, and released as a single on guitarist David Keegan and Stephen Pastel’s 53rd & 3rd Records in February 1986, the first release on the label.
The single reached number two on the UK Independent Chart, spending seventeen weeks in the chart in total. The song was voted to number eight on the 1986 Festive Fifty, with only tracks by The Smiths, Primal Scream, The Fall and “Kiss” by Age of Chance receiving more votes.
“Safety Net” was described by David Sheridan of Trouser Press as “nothing short of brilliant”.Gillian Watson of The Scotsman called the song an “early classic”, which “captures how nervous and exciting it feels to be a young adult in the city at night”.