ONE FOR AFICIONADOS OF THE C86 GENRE

Actually….it’s not one, it’s four. And they’re for fans of witty, intelligent and catchy pop music no matter the genre.

I featured The Siddeleys back in 2015 during the year-long look at acts which had been on CD86: 48 Tracks from the Birth of Indie Pop. I said at the time they were are one of those bands that sometimes cropped up in conversation but of whom I knew nothing until I did some research on them for that series.

Debut single What Went Wrong This Time? is one of the real highlights on the CD86 compilation and as such begs the question as to what went wrong for The Siddeleys as they never enjoyed any real success. After all, the NME had described the debut, in July 1987, as a “gentle teasing lament with cool female vocals and a lilting backing which trickles around the back of the nervous system with deceptive charm”.

The main issue was that it took a full year for the follow-up to appear by which time the band were on a third drummer. They had also switched labels to Sombrero Records and in August 1988 a 12″ single was released :-

mp3 : The Siddeleys – Sunshine Thuggery
mp3 : The Siddeleys – Are You STILL Evil When You’re Sleeping?
mp3 : The Siddeleys – Falling Off My Feet Again
mp3 : The Siddeleys – Bribes and Bruises

The lead-track combines the best of Close Lobsters, June Brides and Orange Juice. High praise I know….but in this case it is merited.

The other three tracks are also great slabs of music that deserve to be much better known than they are.

As I mentioned last time out, the band recorded two Peel Sessions in late 88/early 89 but plans for a third single were dashed when the record label ran out of money and when no other offers emerged they soon called it a day.

Incidentally, anyone who has a vinyl copy of this 12″ is sitting on something of value. The only one for sale on Discogs just now has an asking price of £60. So I’ll mention that these mp3s are not ripped from any vinyl!

JC

NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 33 of 48)

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The Siddeleys are one of those bands that have cropped up in conversation with fellow indie-geeks a fair few times but I always have to shrug my shoulders and admit I know nothing. Their inclusion on CD86 and place in this series has led me to do a wee bit of research and listen to most of the very few songs released while they were together and I’ve liked what I’ve heard.

They initially comprised of Johnny Johnson (vocals), Andrew Brown (bass), Allan Kingdom (guitar), and Phil Goodman (drums) and debut single What Went Wrong This Time came out on the Medium Cool label in July 1987 and a very positive review in the NME described it as “A gentle teasing lament with cool female vocals and a lilting backing which trickles around the back of the nervous system with deceptive charm”.

It was a year before any follow-up was released by which time the drummer and his replacement had both left perhaps indicating not everything in the garden was rosy.  The second release was a four-track EP on Sombrero Records after which they recorded two Peel Sessions, the second of which was in May 1989, but plans for a third single were dashed when the record label ran out of money and no other offers emerged.  The Siddeleys called it a day soon afterwards.

They are regarded as one of the great lost bands of the era and such has been the level of interest over the years that it came as no surprise when a compilation of the two singles and the Peel Sessions were brought together on a new CD entitled Slum Clearance in 2001.

The track on CD 86 was the debut single:-

mp3 : The Siddeleys – What Went Wrong This Time?

There were two tracks on the b-side, the latter of which is really quite splendid:-

mp3 : The Siddeleys – No Names….
mp3 : The Siddeleys – My Favourite Wet Wednesday Afternoon

Enjoy

ALVIN LIVES (IN LEEDS)

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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:-

Tracklist 

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.