Burning Badgers Vinyl – The Seven Inches #2
Shining In The Wood – Tiger (Fierce Panda Records 1996)

SWC writes……..

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.

mp3: Tiger – Shining In The Wood

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

mp3: Tiger – Where’s The Love

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




Bad Dancing, Bad Haircuts and Bad Timing

You remember those little blue disabled cars that used to be everywhere in the 1980’s? Three wheels, shaped like a movable portaloo, did roughly the speed of an asthmatic dog on crutches – that people was a Thundersley Invacar, and that is the name of a rather marvellous track by Collapsed Lung which is todays first ‘Lost Classic’. If that is not the best segue you read this year I don’t know what is.

There has been a lot of talk recently about first gigs. I won’t bore you with mine as it was Neds Atomic Dustbin. I will however bore you with a tale of my first gig at University and one of the main reasons why I now no longer dance. My first gig as a student at University was Collapsed Lung on a Sunday night in October. At the time I was just becoming aware of Collapsed Lung, my good friend Martin (who is in the band Thee Faction, you should check them out, they are great) had lent me a cassette with some of their music on it. I never gave him that tape back – it also had Mambo Taxi, Echobelly and Dub War on it. It was a good tape.

Collapsed Lung formed in Harlow in 1992 and were one of a few bands around at the time who blended hip hop with rock (hello Senser and Asian Dub Foundation) and even counted Radio One DJ and minor Z List Reality TV star Nihal as a member. The lead man was Ant Chapman who was also a bit of a DJ and I think involved in a band called Bogshed, who I never ever listened to but was intrigued by because of their name.

Thundersley Invacar should have been more famous than Collapsed Lung’s best known single and only hit Eat My Goal  (A Top 20 smash in 1996, thanks to the football tournament going on which played it every 15 minutes). ‘Thundersley…’ was on the aforementioned tape and got played an awful lot by me on my stereo. At that concert in the Students Union, when they played this, I went mental (I was young, well 19 and didn’t know any better). I threw myself around, jumped up and down and generally lost myself in the music. When it stopped, I was the only one dancing; in fact I think most people were looking at me and not Collapsed Lung. My friend John, who was standing next to me, said, rather brilliantly, that watching me dance, was like watching Kermit the Frog in a blender – messy and that it was not to be encouraged. I’ve rarely danced since. I mean I want to dance – but I’m terrible at it. I love this track though and with the risk of repeating myself, it should have been a hit.

mp3 : Collapsed Lung – Thundersley Invacar

Fast forward three years and we come to Tiger and their track Race.

Tiger were a band who were more famous for their mullets, metal T-shirts and crap jumpers than they were for their tunes, which is a shame, because debut album We are the Puppets is something of a lost masterpiece. The thing about Tiger for me was that they had two keyboardists (at least one was a Moog, which is always cool) and a multitude of members who played various things, the sound was fuzzy, inventive and at times brilliant. Once they reminded me of the B-52s at their greatest (a sentence I rarely type that) but mostly it evokes the spirit of Stereolab if they were fronted by Mark E Smith.

Debut single Shining in the Wood  showed much promise, but it was Race and following single My Puppet Pal that underlined their potential. By this time Tiger had an image and that was that they were amazingly uncool and they knew it which almost made them cool – not that I understand anything about being cool – I had a pony tail until I was 35 (I know please don’t hate me). At a time when music was fast becoming solely about Oasis and Britpop, Tiger at least offered an alternative. Debut album ‘We Are The Puppets’ was well received and Tiger went on tour as part of the NME Awards shindig and for a while it looked like they were destined for great things (also on that tour Three Colours Red and Geneva, they pick ‘em, the NME), sadly fame and fortune never materialised. ‘Race’ for me sums up this band, it is a happy energetic little song, that despite radio play and positive press coverage peaked at Number 37 in the UK Chart. They gave up shortly after album number 2 Rosaria bombed.

mp3 : Tiger – Race

Finally for today, we travel back to 1991 and we have some shoegaze.

After Slowdive, Ride and Moose, came Chapterhouse. Five good looking, well groomed, middle class lads from Berkshire with floppy fringes and a habit of whispering their lyrics whilst feedback and swirling guitars do their best to drown them out. They were seen as the next big act to emerge from the so called ‘Scene that Celebrates Itself’ and to earmark that boast they released the jawdroppingly amazing Pearl.

You will have heard ‘Pearl’ I’m sure. Its gorgeous, it has Rachel from Slowdive on backing vocals it has dreamy lyrics and sleepy guitars, and as you listen to it and drown in it wonderfulness – your shoes will have never had some much attention, what is not to love about it? If you look at an online dictionary and search on Shoegaze you should get a video of ‘Pearl’. After ‘Pearl’ you wondered how can they top that? – the truth was that they couldn’t. They peaked way too early. Debut album Whirlpool reached the higher reaches of the Top 25 but it was just too dreamy, almost too shoe gazey for its own shoes (although listening to it again 20 years later, its actually very good).

But then came the Reading Festival of 1991 (incidentally the first Reading Festival I went to) Chapterhouse played the Friday afternoon slot hitting the stage at around 5pm, I saw them, they played for 45 minutes, a haze of smoke machines, feedback, whispering and staring, they weren’t that bad. The problem is, precisely one hour before them, Nirvana arrived and pretty much nothing else mattered after that, because nothing on Earth was going to top that performance. Chapterhouse had the misfortune of following Nirvana who had just arrived punched everyone in the face with Smells Like Teen Spirit, gave a performance that was utterly utterly brilliant and left everyone open mouthed and pretty much speechless. They couldn’t follow that and from that point onwards Chapterhouse were doomed.

mp3 : Chapterhouse – Pearl

Hope you enjoy the music. Oh and if you haven’t already done it by now you should be thinking about downloading the new Eagulls album. The best 37 minutes of the year so far.