indie hopefuls edge closer to the mainstream
The second sequel to Cherry Red’s 2014 expansion of the epochal C86 presents an indie scene on the cusp of some major developments. Though jangly sounds abound on the 71 songs collected here (so much so that there’s an inevitable degree of twee fatigue), the contents demonstrate a shift away from the original shambling scenesters’ distaste for displays of ambition, and a new eagerness to grab hold of the brass ring that The Smiths had surrendered to other contenders. That’s as palpable in the early rumblings by Manchester’s future kings – with The Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets represented by their first Silvertone and Playtime singles, respectively – as it is in Creation’s first full-fledged stab at glory with the House Of Love. For the latter, C88 curator John Reed opts for the beguiling early B-side “The Hill”, featuring lead vocals by the band’s soon-to-depart co-founder Andrea Heukamp. Despite that new strain of careerism, The Pooh Sticks opt for spoofing their peers’ indie snobbery in “On Tape”, one of many songs worth rediscovering. Other emergent tendencies include the fanzine/ flexidisc-fostered winsome pop that soon became Sarah Records’ métier (The Sea Urchins’ “Please Rain Fall” being the loveliest example here) and the proto-Britpop of The Heart Throbs, Blow Up and others who couldn’t quite capitalise when it all went overground. Extras: 7/10. Deluxe 3CD clamshell package comes with copious liner notes and band bios by original C86 compiler Neil Taylor.
mick Stevens: an underrated Englishman