Monday, July 31, 2006

some thoughts on a movement or a lack thereof

i was asked for my thoughts on the term C86, it's links to the tweepop of today and whether or not i thought there was a specific C86 scene.
after writing it all down i thought it might make an interesting addition to this here blog.
it also serves as a continuation of my first entry.
it's more or less directly edited from my emailed answers so it may read a bit oddly in places.
anyway, here goes.

various artists | nme C86

i've been thinking about it and i don't remember there really being a word or phrase used to collect bands together.
it was all just indie - when that word meant records released on independent record labels and not how the word started to be used in the early 90s.
the 80's indie charts would include ANYTHING released on an indie label - which meant that some dance record (like early stock aitken and waterman stuff) would often be top of the chart for weeks on end as they were selling enough to be top of the national charts too.
but right next to them in the chart would be laibach, the smiths, talulah gosh.
to me that seems logical and healthy.

i mean, i was buying razorcuts and talulah gosh AND swans and laibach and the fall AND the pet shop boys and scritti politti.
a real mix of sounds.
just whatever i heard that i liked.

swans | cop

there was never anything about only listening to jangly guitars etc.
this is proved in the kind of concerts that were being put on - you would have for example the shrubs playing alongside rodney allen, and my band (who were quite noisy - a bit like the membranes or sonic youth) would play with the rosehips and the williams.

at the time the name C86 was purely the title of the NME cassette and LP (and the week of concerts in london) - and i think listening to all the bands on there you can hear what i'm talking about...a witness alongside the shop assistants, mackenzies and mighty mighty.

it is only in retrospect that people started to use the C86 name for a certain thing - that's where i have a problem with it because the sound now associated with the name has little bearing on the actual record.

sea urchins | pristine christine

i think it came about through sarah records and similar labels and the jangly pop they were releasing - these labels were obviously inspired by a lot of the bands, though actually to me they seem more inspired by slightly earlier bands - june brides, jasmine minks, orange juice (all of whom are really early 80's bands coming out of post punk rather than mid eighties bands coming out of post post punk).

the other thing that didn't help how the term C86 gets used was the BMX bandits releasing an album called C86 and the BMX bandits are a twee band for sure.

talulah gosh | beatnik boy

it's been mentioned that everett true used the term cute - he's used it a few times but it was for specific bands rather than a scene as far as i recall - like talulah gosh who were undeniably cute, dressed as school girls from 50's kids books (which, when you think about it is really quite subversive - grown women dressing as children!)

john peel used the term shambling to describe bogshed but that term quickly got taken over by the NME, sounds and melody maker to describe bands that really did sound like they were shambling - like the pastels for instance.
i personally don't recall anyone ever saying to me that they were into shambling bands. though of course i did get told by people that they lvoed the pastels.

pastels | million tears

it's why i get a little annoyed sometimes when reviewers of my band today say things like "sarandon have made the odd choice of going to the angular part of C86" because in truth we're far more like a C86 band than many of the tweepop bands that use the C86 tag to try and sell records - something that my band have never done (which is perhaps why we don't sell many records!!) - i always admit that i am inspired by those bands because that's obvious but i'm not going for a specific sound.
in actual fact i think we're a lot more like the bands of the early 90s like dog faced hermans, dawson and the keatons.
anyway, off the top of my head i can only think of 3 or 4 bands on the C86 record that are in any way twee: shop assistants (though their song on C86 was a very odd choice. they didn't write many slow and quite songs. they wanted to be the ramones), servants (who sounded like they had a syd barrett fixation at the time - check their song against barrett's "octopus") and primal scream...

anyhow, i hope that's interesting enough for you.
i'm really pleased that there are people championing what was going on in the 80s as it's very special to me - but then if i was a huge metal or electro fan in the 80s i would say the same thing if that was being championed wouldn't i?


  • At 10:36 AM, Blogger Tom said…

    Bands didn't qualify for the indie chart just because they were on an indie label. They only qualified if the distributor was independent. This meant indies like beggars banquet were not considered for the indie chart because their records weredistributed by a major distributor. PWL on the other hand was connected to a major label but because their records were distributed by pinnacle (?) you had the likes of Rick Astely, Jason Donovan and Kylie topping the indie charts!!!

    C86 is a totally misued term. I really should remove it from my blog. To be honest it doesn't actually mean anything apart from as you said it was the name of a tape. Search for C86 on e-bay and it's used to try and flog all types of records most of which were released in the 1990's. I prefer to use the "1980's UK independent scene" or "shambling" but it doesn't have the same ring to it as C86!

    Nice session on Radio Six by the way.

  • At 12:03 PM, Blogger crayola said…

    thanks for the info tom.
    we should start a campaign!

  • At 9:41 AM, Blogger crayola said…

    tom. i've just been back and read this and had a thought about your comment about beggars.
    southern death cult were on beggars and they got in the indie charts.
    as did tubeway army and gary numan.


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