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Official! Hippest Indie bands of the 80s, specifically 83-86


Mike O

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Following the heated debate in the Brits thread over the Smiths, Oasis etc, I have decided it's finally time to offer some enlightenment to you crazy youngsters on mid 80's indie cool.

I am uniquely able to make these judgements because I myself was a very, very cool frontman of a hip Norwich outfit called Gorgeous.

We were a post-modern hybrid of Dexys meets The Beach Boys meets The Shngri-las meets a car crash and consisted of two guitars, bass, drums, two saxes and two backing singers. We were awesome (before 'awesome' was even a word...).

Our hits (in Norwich) included 'I'm Too Damn Gorgeous' and 'Natalina' and you can still find us on a number of limited edition compilation albums and EPs probably still 'on offer' in Andys Records of Norwich.

Anyway, we did actually have quite a following (of irate feminists, if I remember rightly) so got invited to support a load of visiting indie bands. Because of this, my amp has actually played with some very cool names, including Billy Bragg.

So with no further ado, here is my conclusive top 10 of the coolest indie bands to visit Norwich between those halcyon years of 1983 to 1986.

10. The Red Guitars. Brilliant outfit from Hull who had a top 50 smash with the incredible 'Good Technology'. Lovely socialist blokes to boot.

9. We've got a Fuzzbox and We're Going to Use it. Crazy, big haired indie chicks who couldn't play a note but looked great and had dimples. I failed miserably to get off with one of them as I reclaimed my amp.

8. Scritti Politti. Green Gartside was just about the coolest and best looking bloke on the planet in 1984. Because of him, one of the guys I lived with spent ?200 on a pair of Catherine Hamnett trousers which I may have spilt red wine over...

7. Aztec Camera. High Land Hard Rain was the album to take round to a girls room to 'help' study together. 'Oblivious' is still a superb track...and the sod was only 16 when he wrote it.

6. The Woodentops. Brilliant live band. All I remember at one of their gigs was singing their hit, Love Train' at the top of my voice to the point wherein I lost it for the next day.

5. The Shop Assistants. A band consisting of a bloke and 3 grungy girls, all of whom I loved through a cider inflicted haze. The cover of 'Train from Kansas City' is a must.

4. The Mighty Lemon Drops. Genius band, genius songs. If they'd been around 10 years later they would have been a major component of Britpop. Think Oasis with talent.

3. The Smiths. Didn't support them but saw them in 83 just as This Charming Man was charting and met them afterwards. They were supported by The Red Guitars (who I prefered on the night) but were still great. For the record, 'Hand in Glove' is still one of the greatets singles of all time. I was mistaken for Mozza on many an occasion owing to my enormous fringe and shaven back of head.

2. Orange Juice. It is hard to over-emphasise just how cool Orange Juice (and Postcard in general) were in the early 80s. They inspired a million male students to buy the complete works of the Velvet Underground and then get themselves a guitar. When they played at Norwich, they were officially the most pissed band I have ever seen in my life (or stoned...or both...). Brilliant

1. The Jesus and Mary Chain. The JAMC were the apotheosis of cool. Black clothes, disgruntled heroin addled veins, industrial scots, Beach Boys melodies and feedback that ripped your ears to pieces. w**kers on stage (20 min gigs a speciality) but the albums....Wow. I've just re-bought the B sides album just to get my hands on 'Sidewalking' again.

So there you have it - I've missed off some notable players, namely The Red Skins, Everything But the Girl and Einsturzende Neubaten but you can't have everything.

Now, I seem to remember I have a job to do around here somewhere....

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Great thread - Some interesting choices there Mike.

First and foremost do you have an recordings of Gorgeous ? I d love to hear them/you!

We've got a Fuzzbox and We're Going to Use it. Crazy, big haired indie chicks who couldn't play a note but looked great and had dimples. I failed miserably to get off with one of them as I reclaimed my amp.

They made a return later in decade simply as Fuzzbox didnt they? Had a bit hit with 'International Rescue'. They were from Solihull where i was living at the time. Unlike as mentioned in the other thread regarding The Cure i couldnt pretend to like them because i lived in the same town as them. They were awful. Singer was dead fit though. Seen her around a few times since. I still would.

8. Scritti Politti. Green Gartside was just about the coolest and best looking bloke on the planet in 1984.

Still going strong you know..

3. The Smiths. Didn't support them but saw them in 83 just as This Charming Man was charting and met them afterwards. They were supported by The Red Guitars (who I prefered on the night) but were still great. For the record, 'Hand in Glove' is still one of the greatets singles of all time. I was mistaken for Mozza on many an occasion owing to my enormous fringe and shaven back of head.

If i start i wont stop. I bow down to anyone who was lucky enough to have seen The Smiths in concert!!!!1

The Jesus and Mary Chain. The JAMC were the apotheosis of cool. Black clothes, disgruntled heroin addled veins, industrial scots, Beach Boys melodies and feedback that ripped your ears to pieces.

I can only imagine what sort of impact they had in 1984. I love Psychocandy. Bobby Gillespe of course went on to form the Primals who are still going strong.

My dodgy indie band years were prob 1989 through to 1993, but thats for a different thread. From the era you speak Mike can I add The Stockholm Monsters ? Factorys great lost band. They couldlve and shouldve been massive. Check them out if you can find anything!

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Hmmm...bands from the 80s...lets see now (yes I am extending it to the whole of the 80s not just the mid 80s).

The criteria being bands that are predominantly 80s - ie. ignoring bands that emerged and made their name in the 70s before rolling into the 80s *(i.e The Police and Talking Heads are out), but allowing bands that were formed in the 70s but really made their name in the 80s.

No point doing my top three as I have discussed it to death - they being 'The Smiths', 'The Cure' and 'The Wedding Present'

After that would come

4. Joy Division Yes they were actually formed in the late 70s however I am allowing them in here because the majority of their entire career was 1980!. A band formed after being inspired by a Sex Pistols gig - (this is where I annoy people) - if something so great as Joy Division can come out of something so sh*te as The Sex Pistols then there is still hope for this country!! For me New Order never ever succeeded in equalling the quality of Joy Division's very limited catalogue.

5. The Pogues - Shane McGowan, possibly the most Irish Englishman in ths history of ugly and shattered lead singers! The Pogues just had a stunning amount of talent throughout the band and anyone who can deny McGowan is a phenominal song writer is allowing his appearance and battle with alcohol cloud their judgement! I saw them on Paddy's night in The Town & Country Club when I was far too young to be at a Pogues concert and despite the fact McGowan could barely stand up let alone sing it was a stunning gig, even more so because Joe Strummer came on to do a version of London Calling and The Specials did Rudy - a concert made in whisky!

6. The Housemartins - from Hull (same neck of the woods as Mike's 'Red Guitars' and 'Everything But the Girl' - Red Guitars being a band I did like. EBTG being a band that inspired me to try and invent a fun way of melting vinyl). The Housemaritns were a band that I almost felt I shouldn't like - at a surface level they were a throwaway pop band band with nothnig more than catchy tunes and a lead singer who liked to wiggle around a lot on stage. However to classify them as this would be an disservice. Paul Heaton is a a fine lyricist, as long as you were a person who could get to grips with songs that seemed to fight over whether the best principles in life were religious or political! Marxist or christian (or both)?

7. Madness As with Joy Division they were actually formed in the mid 70s however again the vast majority of their success was in the 80s. Probably not a lot needs be said about Madness as most will be fully aware of them.

8. REM - OK they have gone on sinec the 80s to be a massive worldwide stadium band however for me their best work was in the 80s. 'Lifes Rich Pageant', 'Document' and 'Fables of the Reconstruction' are absolute corkers and on 'Green' (probably their real breakthrough to the masses album) is one of the finest songs to come out of the 80s in 'World Leader Pretend'

9. The Waterboys Very simply I just found them fun to listen to and that can't be a bad thing! 'This Is the Sea' is probably my favourite album of theirs and then 'Fisherman's Blues' (great album name I thought) has the track 'When Ye Go Away' on it which is a beautiful 4 minutes of simple sentiment.

10. Simple Minds - This is based purely on their first 6 albums from 'Life in A Day' through to 'Sparkle in the Rain' Admittedly 'Life in A Day' and 'Real to Real Cacophony ' were released in mid- late 1979. After that it wall went downhill for Simple Minds as far as I am concerned. HOwever listen to these 6 albums and they are an entirely different band from the one they became after the success of 'Once Upon a Time ' and the 'Live in the City of Light '

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5. The Pogues - Shane McGowan, possibly the most Irish Englishman in ths history of ugly and shattered lead singers! The Pogues just had a stunning amount of talent throughout the band and anyone who can deny McGowan is a phenominal song writer is allowing his appearance and battle with alcohol cloud their judgement! I saw them on Paddy's night in The Town & Country Club when I was far too young to be at a Pogues concert and despite the fact McGowan could barely stand up let alone sing it was a stunning gig, even more so because Joe Strummer came on to do a version of London Calling and The Specials did Rudy - a concert made in whisky!

Oh my word. My dreams are made of this. Strummer The Specials and The Pogues. On the same stage. They still have 'Straight to Hell' as their intro music. Have seen the Pogues live every Christmas for the last 3 years. They still have it. Shane cant walk, cant talk and cant stand but he still sings like an angel.

4. Joy Division Yes they were actually formed in the late 70s however I am allowing them in here because the majority of their entire career was 1980!. A band formed after being inspired by a Sex Pistols gig - (this is where I annoy people) - if something so great as Joy Division can come out of something so sh*te as The Sex Pistols then there is still hope for this country!! For me New Order never ever succeeded in equalling the quality of Joy Division's very limited catalogue
.

2007 will be Joy Divisons year. The 3 albums are to be remastered and rereleased and of course 'Control' is due to come out. That will be a fun night out! JD were a terryfying band , totally distant and claustrophobic (a lot of that is down to Martin Hannett) they were so far ahead of their time it was scary. Have to disagree about New Order not matching up to them im afraid Loz!

Can i also add My Bloody Valentine.

What a band. I saw them at the Birmingham Hummingbird in 1991 and it was the loudest gig i have ever been to in my life (on that tour it is rumoured the sound engingeer resigned because he was concerend the band were gonna get sued by deaf fans!) All i remember from the gig was white noise and white strobes! Great stuff.

and The Pyschedelic Furs

Not really indie more new-wave. The Furs are one of my favorite 80s bands. They ended up with a bigger following in the US than over here - mainly due to a certain song on certain soundtrack but they were so much more than a John Hughes teenage coming of age movie. They are still going, albeit as a money laundering greatest hits touring package. But 'Talk Talk Talk' and 'Mirror Moves' still stand up against anything from that era.

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I hadn't included the Roses because they went on into the 90s but that is probably a mistake on my part, especially when you consider that singles like Sally Cinnamon, She Bangs The Drums, Elephant Stone, Made Of Stone and Fools Gold all came out in the 80s - so yes they should be in the top ten (and very high up as well)

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Of course, The Roses are a given! They and The Mondays were responsible for me wearing very silly clothes and adorning extremley silly haircurts. But worst of all they made me dance.

Lets not start about The Second Coming again though Loz!

From that era and into the early 90s i could also mention The Paris Angels, The Sundays, The House Of Love, The WonderStuff and Ride.

But thats digressing from Mikes orginal 80s thread so lets keep it to the dayglo decade!

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Of course, The Roses are a given! They and The Mondays were responsible for me wearing very silly clothes and adorning extremley silly haircurts. But worst of all they made me dance.

Lets not start about The Second Coming again though Loz!

From that era and into the early 90s i could also mention The Paris Angels, The Sundays, The House Of Love, The WonderStuff and Ride.

Only mention the Wonderstuff if you are referring to Eight Legged Groove Machine and Hup - after that it was a horrible slide!

Another name I would mention are Ned's Atomic Dustbin. (early 90s though) The Ingredients EP was a gem of a 4 track record and GodFodder although did have a few weak points was still a fine album. After that they were naff!

The Mondays I only liked 24 Hr Party People and Bummed

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Only mention the Wonderstuff if you are referring to Eight Legged Groove Machine and Hup - after that it was a horrible slide!

Funily enough, Amazon delivered my replacement copy of 8 Legged Groove Machine yesterday (used to have it on cassette). God, I love that album.

Specific to 83-86, Loz, great calls on The Waterboys and The Pogues. Fisherman's Blues is still my fave album by the former but did you rate World Party (Karl Wallinger's offshoot)? Ship of Fools was a great track.

As for the latter, I met them in 84/85 when they were supporting Costello on the Goodbye Cruel World tour. Blagged my way into the after gig party and got arsed with Spider and Steve Nieve. Stiil got the Rothmans he offered me....

Another I missed off was The The. Soul Mining and Infected are still amazing.

You're also right to bring up REM. Murmur is still their finest, I think (esp Pilgrimage) but King of Birds on Document stands as one of the most astonishing songs ever written. And me and my mate still play 'Superman' at weddings and barmitvahs....

I'm in random 80s heaven...

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I agree that for The Stuffies they peaked with 'The 8 Legged', Mike if youve bought the remastered cd version it includes 'A Song Without An End' 'Astley In The Noose' whice are great lost tracks. I still have my 'Its Yer Money Im After Baby' long sleeved baggy tshirt somewhere .After this they released the utterley classic 'CircleSqaure' but then went downhill, Miles Hunt was a w**ker of the very highest order. We saw them in Brum before Xmas and it has to be said it was a great night. Dont wory i wont post the link to the video i was in again!!!!

Neds were part of the grebo scene that was pretty big where i lived back then. I always thought they were very over-rated however nowhere near as bad as MegaCityFour or the awful Pop Will Eat Itself 1064.gif

The Mondays I only liked 24 Hr Party People and Bumme

Wot not 'Pills, Thrills' ? icon_eek.gif

*faints*

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Funily enough, Amazon delivered my replacement copy of 8 Legged Groove Machine yesterday (used to have it on cassette). God, I love that album.

Definitely The Wonderstuff's finest hour - my best mate at school and I were big big fans of the album and used to drive people nuts by playing it all the time in the school canteen at breaks/lunchtime.

Specific to 83-86, Loz, great calls on The Waterboys and The Pogues. Fisherman's Blues is still my fave album by the former but did you rate World Party (Karl Wallinger's offshoot)? Ship of Fools was a great track.

I have to admit to only hearing World Party a few times and on that basis I can only come to the conclusion that I wasn't impressed as if I had been I would have listened to them a lot more. Maybe I am mistaken and would like them if I gave them another shot but my gut feeling is I wouldn't.

As for the latter, I met them in 84/85 when they were supporting Costello on the Goodbye Cruel World tour. Blagged my way into the after gig party and got arsed with Spider and Steve Nieve. Stiil got the Rothmans he offered me....

Now that is a music collectable if ever I heard of one!! I would have it framed and hung above my toilet!

You're also right to bring up REM. Murmur is still their finest, I think (esp Pilgrimage) but King of Birds on Document stands as one of the most astonishing songs ever written. And me and my mate still play 'Superman' at weddings and barmitvahs....

Superman is a delightful bit of fun, I have never heard it played at a wedding but that is far more a criticism of wedding music than anything else!

Speaking of Wedding songs - what was your 'first dance' - ours was Marvin Gaye's 'Let Get it On' - the great Aunts were disgusted!

I'm in random 80s heaven...

'U got the look!'

eighties_11.jpg

p.s. I think we have all criminally overlooked Adam Ants and the Prince CHarming album!

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and 'Rush Hour' by Jane Wieldlin - the best pop song evermade!

Im serious!

heres another 80s fave of mine. Check the haircuts, check the makeup and then name the band. The singer is actually now a bloody good solo artist.

japan.jpg

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Circlesquare was, and still is, brilliant.

No mention anywhere of the Inspiral Carpets I see. The Dung 4 demo and Life were both much better albums than anything the Mondays did - after that they were poor.

Other bands to consider in your list of over-rated bands are Carter USM - horrible

and then there was EMF - hanging would have been too good for them.

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A band formed after being inspired by a Sex Pistols gig - (this is where I annoy people) - if something so great as Joy Division can come out of something so sh*te as The Sex Pistols then there is still hope for this country!!

Loz, You are right about the annoyance! icon_lol.gif

Sex Pistols? The most influential band to come out within the last 30 years. (In my humble opinion).

Sometime's the industry need's a good kick up the arse to shake things up a bit, and stunt the endless production line of crap that is released.

They did it.

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Circlesquare was, and still is, brilliant.

No mention anywhere of the Inspiral Carpets I see. The Dung 4 demo and Life were both much better albums than anything the Mondays did - after that they were poor.

icon_twisted.gif Is there an ignore button ?

Other bands to consider in your list of over-rated bands are Carter USM - horrible

Good god yes. 'Sheriff Fatman' reminds me of college discos and White Lighting cider.

EMF werent that bad,

Sorry. They were. Yes, they were. Didnt one of them die recently ?

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Loz - isn't that you on the right in your pic?

BJD - Japan would be the name of your band. Is David Silvian still going? Bloody hell, I had a fringe which rivalled his for two years.

And Carter USP and EMF are late 80's - stay on brief chaps!

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Sex Pistols? The most influential band to come out within the last 30 years. (In my humble opinion).

Sometime's the industry need's a good kick up the arse to shake things up a bit, and stunt the endless production line of crap that is released.

They did it.

I actually agree with this. Not in a musical sense. But in the fact they changed the way music was marketed but most of all they proved that anyone can do it and that you didnt have to be a trained talented musician to have a hit record especially in the horrible musical waters of the mid 70s ( IE Pink Floyd)

That ethos still lives and breathes today.

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Sex Pistols? The most influential band to come out within the last 30 years. (In my humble opinion).

Sometime's the industry need's a good kick up the arse to shake things up a bit, and stunt the endless production line of crap that is released.

They did it.

I actually agree with this. Not in a musical sense. But in the fact they changed the way music was marketed but most of all they proved that anyone can do it and that you didnt have to be a trained talented musician to have a hit record especially in the horrible musical waters of the mid 70s ( IE Pink Floyd)

That ethos still lives and breathes today.

Wow! Thanks, BJD.

Sorry to stray off topic... I'll let you lot get back to your 80's drivel. icon_wink.gif

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