The Jasmine Minks - Cut Me Deep: The Anthology 1984 – 2014
Long before ‘What’s The Story Morning Glory’ became the biggest selling album of the 1990s, Creation Records was a hip & trendy label that helped fashion a new flavour of indie pop music with the likes of The Pastels, Primal Scream & The Jasmine Minks.
Back in the early to mid 1980s Creation Records worked out of a small office in a Clerkenwell Road. By day Alan McGee & Dick Green ran the label and by night they ran The Living Room, a club above a pub in Tottenham Court Road where they would promote the label roster, their own group, Biff Bang Pow, and other like-minded artists.
There’s no doubting that once it was a massive boost for any new band to release a single on Creation Records, especially after the success of The Jesus & Marychain’s debut single, ‘Upside Down’.
Creation Records was setup in 1983 by Alan McGee with a Margaret Thatcher endorsed government loan; and in the following year, released two singles from Scottish group, The Jasmine minks. ‘Think!’ & ‘Where The Traffic Goes’ along with ‘Work For Nothing’ are great, powerful pop songs that remain a good representation of that time, and the sound that became affectionately known as ‘indie pop’ and formed a large part of the ‘sound of C86’.
The sound of those exciting times was lo-fi and treble-heavy production; a turn away from 1980s pop over-production and big mullet hair of Trevor Horn et al . For me, the Jasmine Minks debut single ‘Think!’ is a perfect example of that style & production; and a perfect pop song to boot.
Like other indie bands of the time, The Jasmine Minks carried off a certain swaggering but loose, shambling sound. The music, in the main, was steered by jangly treble-high guitars that owed more to 1960s mod-style and garage psych pop than any angst-ridden, punk rock influence; though early live shows certainly erred towards more thrashing guitars and Joe Strummer-esque vocal delivery, with Ramones-style “1-2-3-4” intros to every song. This side of The Jasmine Minks can best be heard on the 1986 released single ‘What’s Happening’ and ‘Black & Blue’ (taken from an earlier studio recording).
A further single on Creation, ‘Cold Heart’ (1986) was released before the band released the Pure EP (1987) on the Esurient Communications record label. The EP included ‘Cut Me Deep’ and erred towards a richer, fuller and more polished sound than previous releases. At the time I remember comparing this less favourably to the early singles, seeing this as a move towards a more commercial sounding production which I assumed was a stab at getting chart success. But with hindsight, it’s apparent the production techniques deployed give the songs a fuller sound that highlights the quality and power of the song writing.
The Jasmine Minks released four studio albums for Creation Records, including the debut mini-album: One Two Three Four Five Six Seven, All Good Preachers Go To Heaven (1984). After its release original vocalist/ guitarist Adam Sanderson left and Jim Shepherd took over lead vocals. Further albums were released on Creation, The Jasmine Minks (1986), Another Age (1988) and Scratch the Surface (1989) before the band appeared to call it a day. I’m not sure the band ever officially disbanded. But in 2000 The Jasmine Minks reformed to release the album Veritas, before signing to Alan McGee’s Poptones label for the release of Popartglory (2001).
Nostalgia may play a heavy part, but I still consider those early singles to be a work of genius. For me, they perfectly capture the sound of a band struggling with, and getting to know their own strengths, a group still searching for their true voice and path. There’s something very real and powerful in that youthful excitement that in this instance was perfectly captured, and recorded.
Cut Me Deep: The Anthology 1984 – 2014 is a collection of the very best of The Jasmine Minks. A mammoth collection of 51 songs over 2 CDs released by Cherry Red Records.
The Woodentops originally formed over 30 years ago in south London. Following the critical success of their debut single ‘Plenty’, released on Food Records in 1984, they signed to Rough Trade & released a string of singles the following year including ‘It Will Come’, ‘Well, Well, Well’ and the wonderfully hypnotic ‘Move Me’ to critical acclaim.
The following year they released a debut album, Giant which made the UK Top 40 and spawned the single ‘Good Thing’. By now, they were one of the biggest groups on the UK indie music scene and built up a loyal live following.
The Woodentops blended the energy & sweat of punk music with funky beats and percussive rhythms. Their live shows were feverishly frantic and hypnotic. The lynchpin of the group was Rolo McGinty. Together with lead guitarist, Simon Mawby, The Woodentops could play at quite a tempo. But the speed and aggression was given a unique twist among their contemporaries by the powerful edge of pounding drumbeats by a drummer that would happily bash variously obscure percussion, while keeping a tight ship with the mesmerising & throbbing bass lines of Frank De Freitas.
The Woodentops were one of the so-called ‘indie’ groups that peaked in the mid-1980s that became synonymous with the NME C86 label. The term itself was about as loose a musical term as Britpop and listening back to the famous giveaway cassette they stick out along with Stump as sounding a bit different. They went on to record another two albums in the 80’s and in 1988, released ‘You Make Me Feel’ which I personally believe to be their best single, along with ‘Move Me’ with The Woodentops ‘sound’ being well and truly captured. But by the turn of the 1990s it seemed music tastes had moved on and like many other ‘indie’ groups of the previous decade, they found it hard to adjust or at least remain in light.
In 2006 they returned to play a reunion tour in the UK & France and that inspired the group to begin writing again. Now, 25 years after their last studio album, original members Rolo McGinty, Simon Mawby & Frank De Freitas return, along with Paul Ashbu (drums) & Aine O’ Keeffe (keyboards) with a new studio album, Granular Tales, released on Cherry Red Records.
The new album continues where The Woodentops left off. Latin percussion and acoustic guitar fill the intro of ‘A Pact’ before being joined by distorted lead, whammy bar guitar and a pounding beat. Each song gels as an album but introduces new components, styles & influences; and I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘Conversations’ was co-written with Serge Gainsbourg.
I don’t think I can name one band from the 1980s that haven’t reformed in the past 10 years; and if I’m being honest I don’t expect much when after such a time apart they decide to release a studio album of new songs. But ‘Granular Tales’ works in managing to keep the original Woodentops sound, yet fresh enough not to simply be living on past glories.
The Woodentops – Granular Tales Tracklisting:
1. A LITTLE MORE TIME
2. A PACT
5. THIRD FLOOR ROOFTOP HIGH
6. I’M DELIGHTED
7. STAY OUT OF THE LIGHT
8. EVERY STEP OF THE WAY
9. OFF TO WAR
10. TAKE ME THROUGH THE NIGHT
11. WHAT WAS TAKEN I DON’T WANT BACK
12. BECAUSE OF YOU
Granular Tales by The Woodentops is released by Cherry Red Records on 24th February, 2014.
Mark Morriss can’t resist the temptation to dip into the Bluetones bag of tricks once or twice for his latest solo offering ‘A Flash of Darkness’.
A full six years after 2008’s ‘Memory Muscle’, the former Bluetones frontman must be hoping it makes a bigger splash than the finely crafted solo debut that sparkled but never really shone.
As his publicity blurb expounds, Morriss has “the ability to sieve poetry from the colander of everyday life”. So what does this kitchen sink drama have to offer?
The album opens with the title track – a flamenco-tinged nod to the Bluetones’ ‘Return to the Last Chance Saloon’ – and is followed by the stand-out ‘Consuela’, a bitter-sweet melody about a deceitful lover that name checks Jersey detective Bergerac. Trademark Morris lyrics stick in your head. Red eyes, white lies, bye bye. He writes it like it is.
The 11-track offering includes a well-executed cover of The Shins’ ‘Pink Bullets’ and the forthcoming single ‘This Is A Lie’, a mere 120 seconds of sublime chilled-out reflection.
‘A Flash of Darkness’ doesn’t hit you between the eyes on first listen, but rather wraps you in a warm glow that grows and grows. It trots along at a gentle jog, speeding then slowing but maintaining its feel-good momentum throughout.
Morriss honed his song-writing skills through a raft of indie masterpieces such as ‘Slight Return’, ‘Sleazy Bed Track’ and ‘You’re No Fun Anymore’. I challenge anyone not to recognise the Bluetones’ trademark sound.
Morriss says the title of this album is inspired by “that moment when you’ve just turned off the light and everything remains semi-lit for a split second”. This time let’s hope the light doesn’t go out too soon.
A Flash of Darkness by Mark Morriss Tracklisting:
1. A Flash Of Darkness
3. Guilty Again
4. It’s Hard To Be Good All The Time
5. Pink Bullets
6. Low Company
7. Life Without F(r)iction
8. This Is The Lie (and That’s The Truth)
9. Space Cadet
11. Sleep Song
A Flash of Darkness by Mark Morriss is released on 24 February 2014 via Acid Jazz.
IndianRedLopez make a welcome return with their second full-length record, Commit, due for release on 17th March 2014 via Cease:Stop Records. This latest offering follows up their excellent debut album, Empty Your Lungs And Breathe, which made waves online gaining coverage on the likes of Rock Sound, Drowned in Sound, The Skinny, The 405 and Artrocker and saw the band named Best Electronic Act at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards.
Commit immediately evokes feelings of a band who have grown leaps and bounds since their debut album. This record offers an endless depth – a depth which showcases the work of a band who are firmly coming into their element. The opening track ‘Any Given City’ kicks proceedings off, emoting heartfelt lyrics, beautiful harmonies and synth soundscapes that dreamily envelope the listener.
The album undulates through various genres as Giorgio Moroder and Talk Talk style 80’s synth-pop meets shoegaze stalwarts such as Mew and Spiritualized. The bands ability to play with, and blend genres so seamlessly, is no more apparent on tracks like ‘No Longer Dying’ – lead singer Mike’s echoing vocals are flanked by samples, unabated keys and synths and a driven, piercing drumbeat.
Commit was self-recorded in the bands own bunker studio in Aberdeen and at a cottage in the idyllic surroundings of Loch Fyne in Scotland. To promote the release, IndianRedLopez aim to stage a variety of pop-up style events, collaborative art events and listening parties, as well as embarking on a tour of the UK and Europe with dates in Holland and Belgium lined up.
The Aberdeen based band, consisting of Mike Chang (lead vocals, guitar, keys, samplers), Dave Cherry (backing vocals, guitar, synth/keys), Darren Forsyth (backing vocals, bass, synth/keys), Danny Forsyth (backing vocals, guitars, bass, samples, synth) and Scott Maskame (drums, samples, percussion), are part of the Aberdeen arts group 26 Collective, who share creative space, ideas and energy in the Aberdeen cultural community. Their DIY ethic is upheld in every facet of their creative output – from running their own club night (SHMEET) and their own label Cease:Stop Records, to tour booking, recording and artwork. This has led to singer Mike designing the artwork for Stanley Odd’s album Reject, banner art for the music blog Glasgow PodcArt as well as working with local label Fat Hippy Records.
To celebrate the release of their second album Indian Red Lopez will be embarking on a European tour.
Friday 7 March – Peterhead – SHMEET – Dangerous Club
Friday 14 March – Aberdeen – Peacocks Visual Arts
Saturday 15 March – Edinburgh – Sneaky Pete’s
Sunday 16 March – Glasgow – Stereo
Monday 17 March – Release Day – Brighton – The Prince Albert
Tuesday 18 March – London TBC
Wednesday 19 March – France/Belgium/Holland TBC
Thursday 20 March -Den Haag – 330 Live
Friday 21 March – Rotterdam – Vagabond
Friday 21 March – Rotterdam – Live radio session – Live Uit Lloyd – RTV Rijnmond
Saturday 22 March – Brussels – Rock Classic
Commit by IndianRedLopez is released March 17th 2014 via Cease:Stop Records.
Microdisney was formed in 1980 by Cathal Coughlan and Sean O’Hagan. They began recording in their native town of Cork, Ireland. Their first few singles, including 1983’s “Pink Skinned Man“, were produced by Dave Feeley, and released on indie label Kabuki records.
After relocating to London, they signed to Rough Trade, and utilised John Porter (producer of The Smiths) to produce their debut album, Everybody is Fantastic. At this time, the band became acquainted with John Peel, who championed their music, and gave them the first of several celebrated Peel Sessions.
This re-issue done in conjunction with the band contains rare single B-sides and the complete Peel session recorded at the time. With notes in collaboration with the band and a book packed with memorabilia this release serves as a great re-introduction to this finest of Irish bands.
Microdisney – Everybody is Fantastic
2. A Few Kisses
3. Escaltor in the rain
5. Dreaming Drains
6. I’ll Be A Gentleman
10. Come On Over & Cry
11. This Liberal LOve
12. Before Famine
13. Everybody Is Dead
14. Dear Rosmary (single b-side)
15. Sleepless (Peel Session)
16. Moon (Peel Session)
17. Sun (Peel Session)
18. Before Famine (Peel Session)
19. This Liberal Love (Peel Session)
20. Escalator In The Rain (Peel Session)
21. Dolly (Peel Session)
Everybody Is Dead (Peel Session)
Microdisney - Everybody is Fantastic is re-issued & available on Cherry Red Records.
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