Sunday, April 20, 2008
Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and...Well, Friday I'm in Love: Weekly Mix #13
So, lucky weekly mix number thirteen...and it's the inevitable C86 mix. Many others have written about the legendary C86 cassette from NME (after all, there's even an excellent blog called Indie MP3 - Keeping C86 Alive), and I doubt I have anything particularly new to add to the discussion. However, it continues to amaze me how one mail-order cassette spawned a genre, a scene, and an attitude toward music. Though NME had released a cassette five years earlier in conjunction with Rough Trade, appropriately titled C81, it never gained the same mythical status despite the fact that the artists featured on it, including Scritti Politti, Orange Juice, The Specials and Buzzcocks, were far more successful. In contrast, C86 included the likes of The Shrubs, Close Lobsters, and The Servants - not exactly well-known or long-lived. In fact, the only bands on C86 that really seem to have achieved longevity were Primal Scream, The Wedding Present and Half Man Half Biscuit.
Whether you call it jangle pop or twee or just plain shambolic, these artists came to represent the ultimate DIY aesthetic. Although the term C86 has come to mean almost exclusively twee, the actual original compilation featured many bands with an edgier sound. What is perhaps more important than whether these bands all fit into the same genre of sound is the way they came to define what it meant to be truly indie when indie still felt like a pure concept. Indie has become a completely irrelevant and bastardized term with the majority of those classified as indie actually on major labels and mainstream radio. However, with the advent of music blogs, there has been an increase in exposure for truly independent bands and even unsigned bands. In my perfect world, every band would be able to produce, distribute and promote their own music without overblown intervention from businesspeople. So while bands like Belle and Sebastian may owe their sound to C86, countless other bands owe their philosophy to it. Philosophically, C86 was like punk for the '80's.
The original tracklisting for C86 was:
Primal Scream - "Velocity Girl"
The Mighty Lemon Drops - "Happy Head"
The Soup Dragons - "Pleasantly Surprised"
The Wolfhounds - "Feeling So Strange Again"
The Bodines - "Therese"
Mighty Mighty - "Law"
Stump - "Buffalo"
Bogshed - "Run to the Temple"
A Witness - "Sharpened Sticks"
The Pastels - "Breaking Lines"
Age of Chance - "From Now On, This Will Be Your God"
The Shop Assistants - "It's Up to You"
Close Lobsters - "Firestation Towers"
Miaow - "Sport Most Royal"
Half Man Half Biscuit - "I Hate Nerys Hughes (From The Heart)"
The Servants - "Transparent"
The Mackenzies - "Big Jim (There's no pubs in Heaven)"
Big Flame - "New Way (Quick Wash And Brush Up With Liberation Theology)"
Fuzzbox - "Console Me"
McCarthy - "Celestial City"
The Shrubs - "Bullfighter's Bones"
The Wedding Present - "This Boy Can Wait"
Twenty years after the original C86, a double-disc CD, compiled by Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley, was released as CD86. Rather than a re-release of the original compilation, it celebrated many of the artists that weren't originally on the C86 tape, but that nevertheless were considered part of the C86 scene. While it still included the odd track from the original (Primal Scream's Velocity Girl, The Wedding Present's This Boy Can Wait) and alternative tracks from most of the original bands, it also included the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pooh Sticks, Talulah Gosh, The June Brides, and The Darling Buds. Keeping with this idea, but expanding yet further to include other British indie bands of the '80's, I made my mix with some original C86 tracks, some tracks by original C86 artists (both the cassette ones and the CD ones), and then some other bands like Felt, Bubblegum Splash, and the superbly named Dalek Beach Party. Many of them are a little rough around the edges and quirky, but that's their charm. I'm going to call this mix I Don't Need Anyone, No Not Anyone At All. Perhaps C86 has become myth because it represents an ideal and and an innocence that seems pretty much impossible in the realm of the music industry.
Velocity Girl - Primal Scream
Plastic Smile - Bubblegum Splash
Close My Eyes - Strawberry Story
Penelope Tree - Felt
Wee Timorous Cowering Beastie - Dalek Beach Party
Charlton Heston - Stump
This Boy Can Wait - The Wedding Present
Disdain - Kind
He's Frank (Slight Return) - The Monochrome Set
This Town - The June Brides
I'm On the Side of Mankind As Much As the Next Man - McCarthy
Nothing to Be Done - The Pastels
Hit the Ground - The Darling Buds
Stop Killing Me - The Primitives
Happy Head - The Mighty Lemon Drops
Whole Wide World - The Soup Dragons
Safety Net - Shop Assistants
Transparent - The Servants
The Revolutionary Spirit - The Wild Swans
You're Kidding Aren't You - The Field Mice
Apple Orchard - Bouquet
It's a Fine Day - Jane