Burning Badgers Vinyl – The Seven Inches #2
Shining In The Wood – Tiger (Fierce Panda Records 1996)
In June 1996, I was a poor student, struggling to make ends meet whilst attending my seven hours a week of hard lectures. I was trying to carve out a small living on the side as a music journalist but it wasn’t really working. I had a couple of small reviews published in Melody Maker but their reviews editor had stopped phoning me (for now at least), and the woman from Select had told me that she ‘might have something for me next week’, three weeks in a row. So I decided that to tie myself over for the summer I needed to get some temporary work.
So the next Monday morning I took myself down to Chatham High Street and wandered into the first recruitment agency that I passed. A small place above a booking shop next to a wine bar. It was a quality place, the usual signs were there, the threadbare carpet, held down in the right places by gaffa tape, the freebie calendar from the Chinese Takeaway stuck to the wall with a limp looking drawing pin and a bored-looking woman behind the desk filing her nails.
She looks me up and down and I tell her that I am looking for work, only temporary over the summer holidays. I tell her that I can type, am good with numbers and am happy to travel. Basically, I’m looking for a cosy little office where I can get paid for not doing very much.
The woman looks at me and smiles a fag-stained toothy grin at me and asks me to fill a couple of forms, the photocopying is all a bit wonky on the first one and the word ‘similar’ is spelt wrong on the second one. I hand the forms back and the woman sort of grunts at me and asks me if I own a pair of gloves, I answer politely that I do.
She tells me that someone will be touch tomorrow.
The next morning at 6am, the phone in my dad’s lounge rings, and after a bit of swearing and clambering around I managed to answer it on the seventh ring, I’m fairly sure no one noticed it. It’s a guy called ‘Phil’ who tells me that a van will be collecting me from the bus stop at around seven-thirty at the top of the road. Which is where I am at seven-thirty to meet Phil. He has a tattoo on the back of his neck which reads ‘Millwall FC but he seems nice. Next to Phil in the van is ‘Baz’ he has a tattoo on his arm that reads ‘Debz’ and he is reading The Sun. I have a badge on my coat that reads ‘Ban Hunting with dogs’. I also notice that they are dressed for manual labour and I look like I am going for a stroll around the park and then a trip to the library.
I asked them what sort of work we are going to be doing today. Phil tells me (and this is an exact quote) “Removal work and shit innit”. Nearly every sentence Phil says ends ‘innit’ and nearly sentence Baz utters is sexist or rather which women he thought were fit or not. Baz weighed about 36 stone and looked like a potato, so was obviously an expert on the fairer sex.
I also realised that I failed dismally to ask Phil this morning the question that I have just asked him and it would appear that I am woefully overdressed for the scenario that I find myself in…because…
The ‘removal work and shit’ turns out to be the colloquial phrase for what used to be called ‘A Binman’. Yup for a day in June 1996 I sat in a dust lorry as it drove slowly around the streets of Canterbury and every ten minutes or so I got out and lugged bags of rubbish from one end of the street to the other whilst Baz chucked them in the back. All the while I stood there sweating and thinking to myself last week I interviewed Jarvis Cocker about his favourite crisp flavour (Roast Ox) and now here I am trying to not cry as Baz threatens to throw me in the back ‘for a joke’. Again.
The next day Baz and Phil invited me back, apparently, they were doing the bins in Faversham then, and I was ‘quite good’ at lugging bags of crap around. I politely declined their offer telling them I had another job lined up. In reality, I would rather do anything, literally anything, than spend another four hours in a dustcar with Medway’s version of the Mitchell Brothers. Saying that, they took pride in their job and were very good at it. They were hard workers.
All of which heaving and shoving brings us to the second 7 inch in Badgers Big Box of Records. (JC interjects….I had to ask SWC what was the first 7 inch in the box – it was actually one that I had previously written alongside one of the other 12″ singles in the BBoR. I felt a bit of a dick when he told me…..)
In June 1996, Tiger, a band from Princes Risborough released their debut single, a rollicking if slightly ragged, punky affair called ‘Shining In the Wood’. In came at a time when record companies were scratching around for the next big sound. What wasn’t clear was how exactly a band like Tiger fitted into that ‘Next Big Sound’ idea.
The thing with Tiger is that they were uncool (mullets and quilted jackets were their thing), deliberately, it would seem and why this shouldn’t have counted against them, it sort of did. The press, certain elements of them at least, seemed to love them, but it always came back to the fact that they wore really really crap clothes and that in some way mean that the band were rubbish and couldn’t be taken seriously, a bit like my attitude towards Baz and Phil I suppose, there is a moral here about books and covers I think.
In reality, Tiger were all kinds of excellent. The band had a knack of channelling their inner Britpop and delivering a killer chorus. Even if nearly every song that they ever record consisted of them yelping over some keyboard sounds borrowed from Stereolab. Of course, Tiger being Tiger had TWO keyboardists, both of which clashed together marvellously.
‘Shining In the Wood’ is a marvellous few minutes of post-punk shouty brilliance. It hinted at a noise that didn’t really sound like anyone else around at the time or had gone immediately before them. Yes, it’s easy to jump and down and shout ‘Stereolab’ but ‘Shining In The Wood’ sounds nothing like Stereolab. It sounds more like ‘Goo’ era Sonic Youth.
Here’s the B Side if you need further evidence of their uniqueness
After this Fierce Panda debut, the band went on to sign for Island Records and had some limited success. The follow up single ‘Race’ and their debut album ‘We Are Puppets’ were truly fantastic but like so many others who came before and after them, it all went a bit wrong after album number two.
mp3: Tiger – Race