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The Indie Top Ten Songs about Dads

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In this regular feature we ask the Everything Indie Over 40 social media community to help us compile a top ten list of a chosen topic. Our resident curator John Hartley (@JohnyNocash) then ponders, disects and finally supplies the narrative.

In this edition:-

The Indie Top Ten Songs about Dads

Fathers, eh? Where would we be without ‘em? Same place we’d be without mothers, to be fair. The Indie Top Ten Songs About Dads was launched on Fathers’ Day. For the grammar pedants amongst you, I’ve put that apostrophe there on purpose, to represent the day belonging to all fathers, even though I wished my own particular dad a happy father’s day, as the day I was expressing my hopes for referred to him.

I didn’t get my grammar specificity from him; much more likely it was from my English graduate mum. I did suggest to EIO40HQ that we do a Mothers’ Day Top Ten but of course being a man, by the time I got round to suggesting it the moment had gone. Maybe next year. A significant proportion of the EIO40 community appear to be men, but in case you’re reading this and you’re not a man then I promise to try to be less tardy next year.

Anyhow, with all of the above in mind it is only natural that proceedings should commence with Weddings Parties Anything’s song ‘Father’s Day’, as suggested by @chumpski


What makes a father? As anyone who has watched a soap opera for a few weeks will be able to testify, there will always be a difference between the biological and the sociological aspects of fatherhood. Sometimes both roles are carried out by the same person; sometimes they are not. Whichever, this Top Ten is dedicated to the male person in your life who has filled the role you have most desired them to fill. It may indeed also be dedicated to you; as Welsh indie heroes Gorkys Zygotic Mynci noted, ‘Sometimes The Father Is The Son’, which was @tfdefence nomination. This title in itself could quite easily be the seedy storyline to a soap opera. However, I’d like to think it refers to those members of our community who are, like me, both father and son.


My own father was born in Ince, near Wigan, and started his career as a tailor’s cutter. When he retired a few years ago his employment was as an embalmer. There was a quiet satisfaction that he had managed to maintain his sewing skills throughout his working life, even if the things he was sewing together changed a little in between times. This year was the first time in over twenty years I got to wish him a Happy Father’s Day in person. His own dad (and therefore my grandad of course) died climbing down a mountain in the Lake District at the ripe old age of 79 in the early 1990s. It seemed quite old then, less so nowadays.

Anyway, in tribute to my dad’s dad, and all the other dads my own dad helped to look their best once they’d passed into wherever it is they have passed to, here’s the suggestion made by @rs1334 ‘Daddy’s Gone To Heaven Now’ by The Mission.


In a tale I have often bored readers of my writings with, it was down to my dad that I ended up indie. I suppose I may well have ended up there anyway eventually, given my mum’s propensity for the alternative, but it was a chance encounter with The Mighty Lemon Drops on the radio in the car as I travelled home from a Bolton Wanderers match that drew me into the circle of friends and their musical tastes that was to shape my record-buying future.

At the time my dad’s car was a blue Vauxhall Cavalier. I was fifteen, and it was the first car we’d had since I was six when, to help afford the new house my parents had bought, he decided it would be more cost effective to get the train to work and sold our dark turquoise Hillman Avenger.

Luckily for me I didn’t grow up with The Divine Comedy. If I had, then their excellent song ‘Your Daddy’s Car’ – the one put forward for inclusion by @call_me_cynical – might have been about my daddy’s car which would mean it coming to a rather unsavoury end decorating a local Oak or Sycamore.


My own children can also rest assured that it wasn’t written about their father’s car either. I don’t own one; indeed, somewhat controversially, I have not only never owned one but have never even driven one anywhere ever. The closest I have come is revving the engine in the garage to keep the battery ticking over when my dad was laid low with an abscess once.

I have often been asked why this state of affairs has come to be. It is only recently that I realised perhaps the lyrics of Half Man Half Biscuit have been a subliminal influence: “Dad can I have another pear drop/Dad can I have another drink/Dad how deep d’you reckon that is/Dad are we nearly there yet?” is the breathless questioning of a child in the back of a motorway-travelling car in the song ‘M6ster’.

I cannot begin to imagine how distracting that must be for a father who is trying to avoid being squeezed between a horn-blaring petrol tanker on one side and a caravan of caravans on the other. Although ‘M6ster’ does not qualify for this Top Ten, HMHB’s later single ‘Look Dad No Tunes’ most certainly does, so thank you to @bringitonskippy for suggesting it.


Next up in our Top Ten is Pavement, with ‘Father To A Sister Of Thought’, which was the choice of @cjl_73. By way of an aside, this song will forever be the song that made me realise that the pedal steel guitar was not exclusively the remit of those willing to bring the musical world into disrepute. It also made me wonder how it could remotely be relevant to a narrative about my dad. I love my sister dearly, but I am sure she would be the first to agree that she is not one of life’s great thinkers.

She and I are very different; despite sharing the same parents, same family home and same small northern hometown for 20 years we have very different tastes in food, music, humour… we don’t even have the same accent, bizarrely. Then I realised maybe it is I who is the father to a sister of thought.

Nocashette Jr, about to head off into the world of Higher Education to study sociology, is the very same three year old who looked out of the train window as we approached a dank and drizzly Manchester and said unrehearsed “Dad, what does ‘grim’ mean?” (This philosophical outlook wasn’t a one-off. Later in her life, and still before teenage years, she handed me a slip of scrap paper as I worked on school reports amidst the general chaos a houseful of young children brings. “What does ‘exasperated’ mean?” it read. I’ve still got that scrap of paper, lest I ever forget…)


Those of us who have chosen to become fathers will of course be familiar with the trials and tribulations which accompany being a responsible adult. These are often counterbalanced by the simple pleasures that can be brought about by our offspring. Their first word (‘mama’), the emergence of their first tooth (detected upon the edge of an index finger) and of course the first steps. “Come To Daddy” will be the pleading request of the father trying desperately to impress the relatives who have dropped in to say hello.

The reality of course is that the child will make a beeline for mummy. It’s just one of those crosses we men must bear. Conveniently enough, ‘Come To Daddy’ is also the title of a song by Aphex Twin, brought to our attention by @preservation76.


 

The role of father is often attributed to the presence of authority. The ‘father’ in the Christian church is the ultimate authority for those who believe: there is to be no messing with him, although he is supposed to be quite big on forgiveness if you do transgress.

There is similarly no mucking about with Old Father Time, unless of course you are Marty McFly but even that doesn’t necessarily end well. ‘Time waits for no man’, is the rather gender-specific old saying, and those 1970s working men’s club comedians amongst the readership of this site can insert their own punchline. There is plenty of muck in London’s famous river though, colloquially known as ‘Old Father Thames’. I’m not sure why fathers are always old, but there you go.

Anyway, with the role of authority figure comes the necessity to command attention and respect, usually through a deep, booming vocal presence. ‘Don’t Make Fun Of Daddy’s Voice’, suggests Morrissey in the song offered by @daznixon1989.

My children don’t make fun of my voice, I’m pleased to say. They do however mock my flat northern vowels. “Dad, say rarft” they implore in their southern accents. “RAFT”, I reply to smirks; the fatherly freakshow never fails to amuse.


I referred earlier to my dad’s dad, my grandad, who everyone knew as Billy. We did too, but not to his face. I remember his look of incredulity on seeing I had had my ear pierced whilst in my first year at University. It was still fashionable then, although I had to reassure him that just because I had a bit of metal in my lobe didn’t mean I was going to start throwing bricks through windows.

I did not confess, however, to an earlier life of crime which I am sure would have been an affront to his Methodist sensibilities (not that they ever stopped him enjoying a pint, mind). And whilst my answer to the question – posed in song by Dear Mr. President and nominated by @Clive_Stringer – “Hey Daddy Have You Ever Been Arrested?” would be an honest ‘No’, I still occasionally feel pangs of guilt for my part in the heist of a bag of plastic 5p pieces from the school maths cupboard, the entirety of which was used to fleece the village shop of the contents of its bubble gum machine. The owners sold up not long afterwards; I hope they didn’t go bankrupt.


On that bombshell, it is perhaps time to bring this Top Ten to a close. If I carry on writing who knows what other controversies and outrages might reveal themselves? I’m well aware that we all have skeletons in our closet but rest assured, at least I have never run through fields of wheat. Not knowingly, anyway. So, whether biological or emotional, living or dead, good or bad, there is no escaping we all owe our existence to a father, and what better way to bring proceedings to a close than this titular tribute suggested by @Axels96 and @clanofginger: here’s Stump with ‘Our Fathers’.


John Hartley

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed

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Listen out on Twitter for further Indie Top Ten themes. We need your help.

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Gig Night – Mark Eitzel @ The Fleece, Bristol

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One of the overriding principles that underpins Everything Indie Over 40 is to encourage positivity when it comes to interacting about music. It’s the code of practice that embodies everything we do. From the simple sharing of songs to the features we run on social media and the articles and reviews we publish. There is enough hate going on in the world at the moment and we are certainly not going to contribute to it.

Which is why we normally shy away from getting involved in anything that we feel may be in conflict with our established principles. Gig Night, by it’s very nature, embodies those principles. A feature whereby a gig-goer, a fan, could write about a special night seeing their heroes in action. Why would it be anything other than benevolent?

However, as we all know, it is not always sunshine and roses. Sometimes your heroes can let you down.

When we read Tracey Bowen‘s review of a Mark Eitzel gig we couldn’t help but be moved by her account of what was clearly a night that held so much promise and high expectation for her, but that ultimately left her feeling emotionally confused.  We saw no negativity in the context of our carefully preserved principles. There was no hate here. Just raw feelings beautifully articulated and drawn straight from the heart. As far as we were concerned it had to be shared.

So with principles firmly set aside, here is Tracey’s Gig Night review of Mark Eitzel at The Fleece Bristol in March 2017

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You’d think, with a set book-ended by ‘Blue and Grey Shirt’ and ‘Western Sky’, that I’d be happy. But happy is relative. Relative to how drunk Mark Eitzel is and how far he will go to downplay his own genius in a room full of people who were quite certain of it when they set out at the start of the evening. Tonight, despite him swearing the plastic pint glass of red wine is half water, Eitzel appears pretty drunk and hell-bent on self-sabotage.

Believe me, Eitzel is in fine voice tonight. I’m thrilled to hear songs from his new album ‘Hey Mr Ferryman’, released mere days before this gig, live for the first time. The self-analysing lyrics of songs like ‘The Last Ten Years’, ‘An Answer’ and ‘Mr Humphries’ lend themselves well to the intimate setting of this diminutive Bristol bar. They sit seamlessly alongside his majestic back-catalogue. As for the old songs, I don’t think I’ve heard a more delicately rendered version of ‘Apology for an Accident’ as tonight. And it’s a joy to hear ‘Jesus’ Hands’, a song he’s long neglected on solo outings.

It’s a shame that we’re not to be treated, as the London crowd will, to a guest appearance from Bernard Butler. Butler produced (and played much of the music) on the new record and has been credited for its lush arrangements. But Butler’s absence doesn’t detract from the enjoyment. No, it’s Eitzels’ between song banter that does that. It breaks the spell. Breaks an unwritten agreement between performer and audience.

He announces his entrance on stage tonight as “Club Firefly – the premier Mark Eitzel and American Music Club tribute band” and proceeds to introduce his current backing band as Vudi, Danny and Tim (members of the classic AMC line-up – and definitely not present tonight). The Fleece is a popular venue for tribute bands and I suppose this was part of their pre-show tomfoolery, that they’re a tribute act rather than authentic. So we laugh; a joke between friends. Only he doesn’t leave it there. He stays in character for the rest of the performance (and believe me, a performance it is). It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s parody. And I guess that’s what he intends.

In-between heart-rending and heart-stopping renditions of American Music Club and solo output, he acts out the part of a fanboy who has direct access to the most intimate details of Eitzel’s personal life, spinning anecdotes of conversations with Eitzel from rehab, adopting a laboured raspy voice to denote the real Mark who tells us what a particular song meant to him. More facade, another mask, another cheap laugh at his own expense. Songs from the new album which they are, of course, here to promote, are introduced as “Club Firefly’s own material”.

Am I being po-faced or is the joke wearing thin? The girl behind me in the crowd doesn’t think so. She gasps and laughs in all the right moments; dutifully coos “beautiful” in a breathy voice as the last note of each song fades away. 20 years ago, hell maybe even as recently as ten, that girl would have been me; hanging on his every word and swooning with wonder even as he writhed and squirmed uncomfortably under the spotlight. But the self-deprecating act becomes tiresome eventually and I wonder where along the line he lost me, when my heart hardened beyond the point he could break it any more, when I became impervious to his words.

I realise now that parody is the new real. Club Firefly are post-parody. It allows Eitzel to treat his songs with contempt without having to take the blame. In another imagined phone call from rehab, Mark tells the Club Firefly singer to “play that song that means so much to me”. So they play the impossibly beautiful ‘Firefly’ to a hungrily appreciative and open-mouthed crowd.

I’ve thought for years that Eitzel displays an astonishing lack of respect toward his own body of work in a live setting. Maybe it’s my problem and I need to get over myself. Where do I get off thinking the songs belong in any way to me? But where does he get off behaving like they don’t? Is the “professional singer and ham” role the only way he can take something so personal on the road? If so, why bother? Because it pays the bills? I seriously doubt it does. Because he can’t do anything else? Possibly. Probably. But it’s clear the generally held reverence doesn’t sit easy with him. Never has. And perhaps his work here is done because I might finally be over my hero-worship of Eitzel the man if not the singer. Might finally let him down from his impossibly high pedestal. So here’s the deal: while the guy on stage pretends to be Mark Eitzel, I’ll pretend to be the girl behind me. We can both suspend our disbelief, just until the end of the gig. But we’ll both end up feeling like frauds. At best, it’s catharsis by proxy. At worst, an episode of Game For a Laugh gone wrong, “watching us, watching you, watching us, watching you”.

Early on in the set, he very nearly kicked that plastic glass of wine over, lurching perilously close to the edge of the stage whilst comically trying to unstick his setlist from the sole of his shoe. It was both a tragic and hilarious farce. You couldn’t write this stuff. Or if you could, it’d be the best Mark Eitzel tribute song never written.

Author: Tracey Bowen

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tracey Bowen is a yoga-loving computer programmer from Birmingham, now living in Tamworth, the ancient capital of Mercia.

She plays an odd assortment of instruments (accordion, omnichord, melodica & glockenspiel) for sometime pop-folk outfit Driven Like the Snow and has just embarked on a new lo-fi drone project with the singer/guitarist from Avrocar.

She can be found on Twitter at @INeedDirection usually very late at night tweeting maudlin indie nostalgia.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Tracey’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – Ian Prowse & Amsterdam @ The Greystones, Sheffield

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We were naturally delighted when Mark Whitworth told us he was going to see Ian Prowse perform Pele’s Fireworks album for it’s 25th anniversary and wanted to write about it for our Gig Night feature. If his last one for a Half Man Half Biscuit gig was anything to go by then we were in for a treat.

Safe to say he didn’t let us down. In fact he’s gone beyond the call of duty here. It’s more than just a gig review. It’s a personal reflection of what was clearly a memorable night for him & if you don’t know much about Pele, don’t worry. Mark has added some bonus features for you.

So thank you to Mark for sharing his Gig Night. Read on and enjoy……

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I think too much and I drink too much

Despite making only the most negligible inroads into the lower reaches of the charts (ha! – as if the charts were ever a barometer of decent music anyway), Pele were an ebullient fixture on the live circuit in the early 1990s. If you were a student during this era the chances are they played at your university, probably several times. (I was at Bangor myself though – the “best” we ever got was D:Ream. Strangely enough I was washing my hair that night).

Even though I was living in Runcorn at this time, just a stone’s throw from Ian Prowse’s hometown of Ellesmere Port, I don’t think I actually remember hearing them on local radio. As I recall I first came across them via Channel 4’s Teletext pages (remember those? Seems practically sepia-tinged these days) and their review of the Fair Blows The Wind For France single (if you’re not too familiar with Pele’s output, the chances are this is probably the one song you may have heard of). The review sounded good so I sought out a copy, and it was indeed, and still is, a beauty. But don’t take my word for it – feel free to judge for yourself.


The single was released in June 1992, and was taken from the album Fireworks which had come out in March of that year. It wasn’t long before I got hold of this too, and it was pretty much a permanent fixture in my cassette player that summer.
Sadly, despite a devoted cult following, Pele were to last just one more album, 1993’s The Sport of Kings, before disbanding amid record company turmoil in 1994. Fireworks, however, remains particularly fondly remembered among “Pele-people”, and thus the news announced last year than Ian Prowse and his current band, Amsterdam, were going to be touring Fireworks in full to commemorate the album’s 25th anniversary, was received with great excitement.

And so it was that a couple of hundred folks “of a certain age” (along with a pleasing number of younger people it must be said) sauntered along to The Greystones in Sheffield to witness this celebration. The Greystones is a smashing venue – a couple of miles out of the city centre, just past Hunters Bar (of Arctic Monkeys’ Fake Tales of San Francisco fame), it’s a cracking real ale pub with an intimate live music venue attached. I’d been once before, to see an unforgettable act by the name of Bob Log III (which is quite another story in itself), but was particularly looking forward to this one, seeing one of my favourite bands of yesteryear whilst simultaneously unencumbered by having to drive home.

The first order of business though was to get hold of one of the seminal Pele logo t-shirts which had mercifully been reissued for this tour. The Pele t-shirt has a particular significance for me, as I was wearing my previous one (in the days when I could still fit in it) when I first met my wife in 1999. (Don’t worry, sick buckets are provided at the end of this review). There are a surprising number of original Pele t-shirts adorning members of the audience tonight (although perhaps only surprising to me, that anyone can still get into clothes they were wearing 25 years ago!) In any event it was a relief to be able to get my hands on a brand new one as I was concerned that the “sizes for the larger gentleman” may have sold out.

Transaction duly completed, I caught the last couple of songs by the extremely agreeable local support band, Robberie (robberie.bandcamp.com). Their guitarist, Robin Byles, is a lifelong Pele fan, and was responsible for maintaining the band’s website and keeping fans up to date in the post-Pele years, for which Ian would thank him later during his own set.

Before too long, Ian and the gang take to the stage themselves, and it’s straight into not the opener from Fireworks, but the penultimate track, Monkey Scream, with its haunting Hammond organ intro. By my reckoning it’s 24 years since I last saw Pele live, and it’s clear from the get-go that even though the songs are being played by different musicians, they have lost absolutely none of their verve and energy – Pele’s songs were always known for sounding even better live than on their records, and this remains the case all these years later.

From here on they play the Fireworks album in full, in a different order to the familiar tracklisting. It’s absolutely brilliant to hear these songs again so many years after I thought I had heard them live for the last time. They are all nothing short of magnificent, and Ian’s tremendous voice is at its very finest the whole night; my own personal favourites are Searchlight, Megalomania, Oh Lord and the title track Fireworks itself.

Before the final song from Fireworks, however, Ian announces that he is going to leave us waiting for that for a while, and tells us that he is going to play songs “that you won’t know if you fucked me off after Pele, even though we got even better!” To my considerable shame, I have to include myself in this category (don’t tell him!) – while I know the odd Amsterdam song, it’s really only the most passing of acquaintances. After tonight’s show I am determined to remedy this. A handful of Amsterdam songs duly receive an airing, including the emotional My Name is Dessie Warren, a cover of a tribute to the titular trade union activisit, generally regarded as having been wrongfully jailed along with Ricky Tomlinson during the national builders’ strike in 1972.

The show continues with Name & Number, a Pele B-side which made its way onto their second album followed by, finally, the last song from Fireworks, the superb anti-monarchist rant Raid The Palace. But they’re not done yet – Ian says “we’re not going to do an encore, we’re just gonna stay here and play more songs”. This leads to an unexpected but brilliant cover of The Clash’s London Calling, followed by the last song on the official set list, Does This Train Stop On Merseyside?, another Amsterdam song and possibly one of Ian’s best known songs from his whole career, and well worth reading about here:

10 years today since ‘Does This Train Stop On Merseyside’ was released.

The evening is rounded off with a groovy version of The Word Is… , another track from The Sport of Kings, before coming to a close with, seeing as it is indeed March 17, Damien Dempsey’s St Patrick’s Brave Brigade, a tale of Irish expats who fought for the Mexican army against the US in the 1840s, and are revered today in both Mexico and Ireland as the Battalón de San Patricio.

And with that, the night is complete. Well, almost; there’s just time to get my picture taken with the great man. There are some artists who you might feel uncomfortable approaching for a pic, but Ian couldn’t be more affable, and we chat briefly about the proximity of our home towns and what have you.

(thank you to the band’s violinist Laura for taking the pic!)

It’s been a truly rousing evening and a great reminder, as if it were ever needed, of just what a gifted songwriter and singer Ian Prowse is. I’ll definitely be familiarising myself with the rest of his back catalogue before too long. Until the next time, if you want me, I’m at the bar.

P.S. Check out this brilliant documentary about Fireworks, made for the 25th anniversary.


Author: Mark Whitworth

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Whitworth is originally from Runcorn in Cheshire but now lives in South Yorkshire. He is the bass player in rock & indie covers band Dr Hackenbush, is shortly hoping to start a PhD in Linguistics, and once sold a Big Mac to Mr T. He can be found on Twitter at @bringitonskippy, usually arguing about why the correct term for a soft white bread roll is “barmcake”.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Mark’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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Gig Night – The Railway Children @ The Lexington

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Fresh from submerging himself knee deep in the world of The Railway Children courtesy of his wonderful item for Toppermost , John Hartley managed to keep the momentum going by checking them out in the flesh.

Here is John’s Gig Night review of The Railway Children at The Lexington, London on Saturday 18th March 2017…

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Up a narrow and steep steel staircase with perhaps one or two too many steps is a room filled largely with men of hair greying and thinning – where it exists at all – and waistbands expanded more than their owners might choose. At the bar a man begrudges the £5 price of a bottle of ale, whilst noticing the barely-discreet notices advising patrons that ‘Earplugs are available: just ask at the bar’. We’re getting old folks, we’re getting old.

The gathered throng, and there are a fair number of us, are present to greet long-absent friends, friends who only came back into our midst last year after a hiatus lasting well over 20 years. The last time I saw The Railway Children was in a rampant hometown gig on Wigan Pier. Buoyed by finally breaking into the Top 40 singles chart, the band were in great form, the crowd roared them on, bassist Stephen Hull departed stage left momentarily to be sick, and t-shirts cost a tenner.

At The Lexington in 2017 it feels like the band has never been away. Always a good-looking band they have aged as much as their music: very well. Sure, there may be a bit of stubble (shaving gets to be such a chore, doesn’t it) and silvery receding hairline, but not much else has changed. Gary Newby still looks youthful and sings with rich tone, Hull still plays the bass like it’s the easiest thing in the world, Guy Keegan still keeps impeccable time and drives the more uptempo songs along, and Brian Bateman still looks like he’s enjoying every minute of strumming Newby’s perfectly crafted pop songs, even when he forgets to change to the second chord of a two-chord song (the band’s debut single ‘A Gentle Sound’) within the first three bars.

With nothing to promote and no longer having to play the part of a mere cog in the wheels of the music industry machine The Railway Children can offer a relaxed and varied set. There is little room for chat – a wry “This was our hit single” introducing ‘Every Beat Of The Heart’ being as close to banter as Newby gets – but that means more time for songs. All three band albums are covered well, there’s the inevitable run out of most – but not all – the singles and, most pleasingly, space for some b-sides: ‘After The Rain’, ‘History Burns’ and ‘Darkness And Colour’ all get a run out.

As the set proceeds, so the performances get stronger and better. ‘Somewhere South’ sounds as good as it ever has, recorded or live. Slower songs such as ‘Big Hands Of Freedom’ are given space to breathe and flourish. Final album title track ‘Native Place’ shows Newby’s voice at its best. The tunes come thick and fast, culminating with “our last song, which was also our first song”: ‘A Gentle Sound’. A quick dash off stage, then back on, and we are treated to the almost inevitable encore ‘Brighter’, a song whose outro could go on forever and still not seem too long. And that’s it: off stage they head, the lights come on, the DJ’s playlist resumes and we all head home, some of us with a souvenir t-shirt that cost a mere £12 – another pleasant reminder that not everything has to change.

 

Author: John Hartley

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about John’s gig night. We would love to hear about your own gig experiences whether they are recent or in the past. Please contact us if you would like to contribute, via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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The Indie Top Ten Songs With Famous People In The Title

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In this regular feature we ask the Everything Indie Over 40 social media community to help us compile a top ten list of a chosen topic. Our resident curator John Hartley (@JohnyNocash) then ponders, disects and finally supplies the narrative.

In this edition:-

The Indie Top Ten Songs With Famous People In The Title

“Fame, fame, fatal fame,” sang some bloke in a band once. “It can play hideous tricks on the brain”. I once met this self-same bloke. I say met, what I mean is that I stood next to him in the long-since defunct Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus. He was looking at CDs in the Bobby Vee section, and I was nosing at what he was looking at. As he said, fame plays hideous tricks on the brain.

Anyway, I became slightly concerned during 2016 that this particular bloke might be the biggest name to croak and I have to say that I am relieved that my prediction of mid-February last year did not come to fruition. That said, it was still alarming to say goodbye to so many of our heroes – musical or otherwise – during the last year, which prompted the suggestion at the back end of the year that the theme for this next Everything Indie Over 40 Top Ten be songs that recognise in name if nothing else those people we see as famous.

Such fleeting brushes with fame as the one described above seem to have peppered my life. I saw Brian May of Queen in the very same branch of Tower Records with his wife Anita Dobson (Angie from ‘EastEnders’, for those who may otherwise not know.) They both looked identical: shoulder length permed hair, long overcoat, matching red clogs: very bizarre. It would also be very bizarre to not include a Half Man Half Biscuit song in this Top 10, given that they have made a career out of their perfectly-chosen name drops.

There were several nominations for HMHB, but let’s start this Top 10 with the one song that celebrates the best way to spot a minor celebrity: in the supermarket. Here’s ‘Fuckin’ ‘Ell, It’s Fred Titmus’ – the famous cricketer in case you don’t know already – as suggested by @GLPNE73.


It became clear that I was destined for a life of mingling with the stars from an early age. One of my earliest memories of school was attending the summer fayre as a junior, one typically grey, humid Saturday afternoon in the North. I was especially excited to learn that the school fayre was being opened by an actor, one from ‘Dad’s Army’, no less. I still possess (somewhere, though Lord knows I can’t put my hand on it right now to prove it) a signed photograph – my very first autograph! – from Colin Bean. You know, Private Sponge; one of the supplementary cast who sometimes got the odd line to utter. Incredible, isn’t it.

Unfortunately, nobody has seen fit to write a song about Colin Bean, but @Wimon has identified Hefner as having written a song called ‘Alan Bean’, so that’ll have to do. Alan may well have been the fourth man to walk on the moon and an accomplished artist, but I bet he never stood in the same room as Arthur Lowe whilst the latter hissed “Stupid boy!”


From that point on my status as celebrity’s ‘plus one’ was cemented. Hardly a childhood trip to Manchester would go by without my mum pointing out Victoria Wood sat in the Royal Exchange café (just over there, behind you, a few seats away, looking down…) as we had a snack. I had no idea who Victoria Wood was at the age of 8, never mind what she looked like. And of course, Jean Alexander – or ‘IldarOgden’ as she was better known – sometimes caught the same train from Wigan as my dad.

And then there were The Houghton Weavers, local boys come good with their own TV show and all, just sat there at the cricket club on a Saturday. I know, I know: ‘Just Like Johnny Marr’, if you close your eyes, replace Westhoughton with Wythenshawe, and listen to Alpaca Sports as @Inalvsmat suggests.


And then of course there were the sports stars. This line of fame-by-association began at secondary school in the athletic form of British Olympic bronze medallist and namesake-by-marriage Donna Hartley, with whom participants in some sponsored event or other were invited to have their photograph taken.

Before too long footballers were also queuing up to make my acquaintance. First, former Bolton Wanderers and England player Peter Reid kicked off the staff v pupils football game in our open day, although the occasion got too much for him and he left before I scored my hat-trick.

And then, future Manchester City and England U-21 manager Peter Reid answered the door as I struggled to deliver his mum’s Saturday copy of the Bolton Evening News. It was summer, so he wasn’t playing. Like Colin Bean, Peter Reid hasn’t had a nominated song written about him either, but he did play in the same Everton team as incognito indiekid Pat Nevin, who stars in The Tractors’ effort ‘Pat Nevin’s Eyes’, as put forward by @PozNoz.


 Actors, sports stars… before too long I was inevitably to be found mixing with pop stars of the modern age too. Not content with seeing Happy Mondays dancer Bez coming out of a pub on the Salford/Manchester border one Wednesday lunchtime (he was wearing a suit, so I guessed he may have been up in court for some misdemeanour or other. I might have been wrong…) I was soon to be found assisting Manchester’s rock royalty in their hour of need. Making a quick getaway from Inspiral Carpets’ support slot with James at Manchester Free Trade Hall, Clint Boon found himself caught in a crossroads as his girlfriend’s Cortina broke down at the most inopportune moment. Lucky for him that my mates and I were in the vicinity to give him a push in the right direction.

This of course pales into significance with the time I turned up far too early for a BOB gig in Bolton and was invited to share a pizza with them. BOB’s debut single was called ‘Brian Wilson’s Bed’; unfortunately none of you suggested this, so you’ll have to make do with @SoxanPance’s nominated ‘Brian Wilson’ by Barenaked Ladies.


 By now, word of my emerging status of ‘person-the-celebs-must-be-seen-with’ was spreading quicker than a rumoured sighting of Lord Lucan, and it did not take long for the stars of the small screen to try and weave their way into my little world. Saturday mornings as an A-level student were spent working in a petrol station; Saturday afternoons were spent reading history books and preparing essays in a petrol station as the morning downpour of customers petered out into the occasional light shower.

One of these light showers sometimes manifested itself in the human form of Crackerjack’s very own Stu Francis, getting his petrol on account while it was quiet and nobody would hassle him for autographs. I had to hassle him for an autograph, but only because he had to sign for the petrol he had just taken. He rarely spoke, other than to say ‘thanks’ or occasionally utter some bizarre coded message, like ‘The Shah Sleeps In Lee Harvey’s Grave’. Perhaps he was a fan of Butthole Surfers like @gigticket.


 I might have made the end of the last paragraph up. Anyway, my afternoons in the petrol station were clearly well spent as I was sufficiently studied to get a ‘B’ in my History (Social and Economic, if you’re wondering) and off I toddled to University in Newcastle. My daily walk into the city from the outskirts took me down back streets in the vicinity of St. James’ Park, and it was along one of these very streets that I would often see the players of struggling Newcastle United drive past on their way to training.

One day, a small, kindly driver stopped to let me cross the road, sacrificing thirty seconds of his team’s training to make sure I could get to my lecture on time. It was Ossie Ardiles, the club’s then manager, with a few players in the back of his car for good measure. Ossie is also famous for being the subject of a Tottingham Hotspur FA Cup Final song, as well as being an Argentinian World Cup winner. @WillieMcAlpine suggested a song by Kinski about one of Ossie’s compatriots, private dancer ‘Argentina Turner’. Ok, so it’s a play on words and not really a proper name, but it’s a good one so I’ve bent the rules slightly this time (only).


 Newcastle was not the most ideal place for sharing my life with the rich and famous, which is just as well as I was able to focus on the job of getting a degree without too much distraction. No thanks to Ant and Dec mind, who filmed ‘Byker Grove’ just up the road from my temporary home in Fenham, and came and gatecrashed my table in the Fox and Hounds for a spot of underage drinking. They were very civilised, though, and kept the noise down to a minimum.

I couldn’t quite work out what they were talking about, on account of me not listening. Perhaps at that precise moment in time they were plotting world domination under the guise of humorous and likeable TV hosts, via a brief pop career. On the subject of brief pop careers, thank you to @niamunna1: here’s Weezer with ‘Buddy Holly’.


 Degree out of the way with, and after a further couple of unemployed years spent convincing myself that a life of pop fame and fortune surely beckoned (given that someone at Rough Trade had quite liked a demo tape before they moved on to writing for Radio Times), I moved to the outskirts of London. Maybe the streets weren’t paved with gold, but they were littered with stars.

For eight years I largely resided in Stanmore. Madonna lived just up the road; so too did Tom Cruise, who was not averse to popping in to the local Blockbusters to rent a video. However, my first flat was in Hatch End, just around the corner from comedian Barry Cryer. His large house had a ‘granny flat’ attached and I used to fantasise that he kept Willie Rushton in there.

Bazza drank in our local, The Railway (although maybe it was us in his local) and one day I was sat next to him on the station platform when an oblivious passenger asked which train went to Willesden Junction. It was with great disappointment that I heard Barry not reply with “I’m sorry, I haven’t a clue”. Mind, if he had I would then have been disappointed that I wasn’t at that point carrying ‘Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder’, which also happens to be the title of an @BullAntics-proffered song by The Membranes.


These days I am much choosier about which famous people I allow to mix in my company. I would count as both friend and work colleague an actor who played a character in ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ and was recently the face of the Virgin Broadband advertising campaign, for example. And she went to a party once with one-time Celebrity King of the Jungle Foggy. She is equally aware of my spectral past as the artist known as Johny Nocash (the man in blue).

To preserve anonymity I lived under this pseudonym for over 20 years before being ‘outed’ by this self-same website. But that’s ok; I learned to deal with this inadvertent unmasking quickly, a task made much easier by the discovery of a Johny Nocash tribute act. I was, therefore, very pleased that this tribute act had himself been recognised, both by @NorwoodTrash, and by Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine who wrote a song about him. Ladies and gentlemen, your final song in this Top 10 Songs With Famous People In Their Title: ‘Johnny Cash’.


John Hartley

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After spending the best part of twenty five years trying to write the perfect pop song John Hartley has turned his attention to writing about those who have done a much better job at it. He tweets as @JohnyNocash and gives away his music, generally for free. He is currently raising money to support men’s mental health charity CALM (@theCALMzone) at http://brokendownrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-heed

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Listen out on Twitter for further Indie Top Ten themes. We need your help.

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The Proper Ornaments “Foxhole” – Review

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Experience has taught us that when Rob Morgan (@durutti74) is inspired by music to want to write about it then it has to be pretty special. On this occasion it’s the latest album from The Proper Ornaments that had him reaching for the Mont Blanc.

As we’ve come to expect from Rob, it’s a terrific read and a top review of a super album. So please read, listen and enjoy….

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The Proper Ornaments
Foxhole
Tough Love Records

Technical glitches can be a real pain sometimes. I had this review fully written and ready to send to EIO40 HQ this morning when I thought I would make one small amendment – and managed to delete the entire document, except for the opening paragraph. So here I am rewriting it from scratch with the memory of what was originally there in my mind and trying to make sure it matches that standard or improves on it.

In a way this is ironic as this is what happened to the album I’m reviewing, “Foxhole” by The Proper Ornaments. The band had recorded the whole album before realising that there was some technical glitch which made the entire recording unusable except for one song. Necessity thus proved the mother of invention, the whole album was rerecorded simply and quickly and is now available for you to enjoy.

The Proper Ornaments were formed by James Hoare (Veronica Falls, Ultimate Painting) and Max Oscarnold (Toy) and they issued their debut album “Wooden Head” in 2014. Whereas that album was a warm blend of fuzzy guitars with nods to Teenage Fanclub, Stereolab and 60s sunshine pop, the new album – recorded on Hoare’s eight track home recording unit – eschews the overdriven guitars and concentrates on chiming clean guitar arpeggios, lovely harmonies, simple arrangements and an emphasis on simple piano chords for most of the songs.

As such there are a new set of influences – the hushed ambience of the third Velvet Underground album, the gorgeous songs Gene Clark and David Crosby wrote for the early Byrds albums, those gentle songs Rick Wright wrote for early Pink Floyd albums – and more contemporary sounds too, I hear echoes of early Kingsbury Manx, Beachwood Sparks, Radar Bros and other bands who who create their own take on pastoral psychedelia.

The album starts bright and breezy with the opener “Back Pages” (nice nod to Dylan and the Byrds there) and the supposedly cheerful “Cremated (Blown Away)” before moving into a mid tempo melancholy groove which remains for most of the rest of the album.

Mostly the songs are short – only “Memories” expands beyond the five minute mark as it moves through numerous changes and sections. Re-recording the album on a limited number of tracks has forced the band to remove layers of excess and concentrate on what makes the music matter most – there is no room for extraneous overdubbing, allowing the songs room to breath. This could be a disaster but the songs stand up to the scrutiny well, every song has melodic hooks which sink in quickly and small changes to the arrangements can be as powerful as a hundred overdubs. For instance “The Frozen Stare” has such a spare arrangement that the addition of electric guitar arpeggios during the coda expands the sound in a magnificent way – simple yet potent.

This is an album which doesn’t need to shout loudly to make its point, and over time the lyrical motifs will become apparent. Many songs have a melancholy air, looking back on a half remembered past and trying to make sense of the present – songs like “Just A Dream” and “When We Were Young” are wistful remembrances. The key song here is “Jeremy’s Song”, where interlocking cycles of acoustic guitars back a repeated mantra of “Cry but don’t speak, don’t move at all, keep your head down in the foxhole”. Are they hiding from the harsh reality of modern day living? Who knows? Maybe I read too much into these things.

On the other hand there are songs like “1969” which appears to be about the moon landings which again surprises with a delightful descending keyboard part on the chorus, and “I Know You Know” which adds a slight country edge which harks back to the Stones-ish vibe of “Give Out…” era ballads by Primal Scream. The album closer “The devil” sounds like it was recorded in a school assembly (utilising Phil Spector’s School Hall Of Sound?) and ends the album with an upbeat feel, adding a small piano doodle at the end which is quite lovely.

The Proper Ornaments know that brevity is an asset – eleven songs swing by in thirty seven minutes and the melodies and moods linger long in the memory after each listen. This is an album which rewards multiple plays – each listen will reveal new little details and pleasures, with plenty of melodic twists and unexpected chord changes. Simplicity is its strength, a triumph from possible disastrous circumstances.

There isn’t a bad song on this album and the Proper Ornaments have created this year’s first essential listen. It is the perfect soundtrack for winter days and nights – place it on the shelf next to these other winter albums “More Sad Hits” by Damon and Naomi, “Songs For The Sad Eyed Girl” by Biff Bang Pow! and “Ask Me Tomorrow” by Mojave 3.

This album deserves to be heard, let it infiltrate your life and it will reward you with haunting melodies and thoughtful words which will stay with you a long time. Highly recommended.

Rob Morgan

 

You can purchase “Foxholes” at the Proper Ornaments Bandcamp page and you can also discover more about them at these links

Twitter

Facebook

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob writes about music and other less important subjects at his blog A Goldfish Called Regret (agoldfishcalledregret.wordpress.com) and also creates podcasts for Goldfish Radio (https://m.mixcloud.com/robmorgan589).

He never achieved his ambition of making a Sarah Record.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Rob’s review. If you would like to review something new, whether it’s new material or a re-issue then please contact us via email indieover40@gmail.com or Twitter @IndieOver40

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The Salient Braves “Guilty Until Proven Innocent EP” – Review

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Another email from Esther dropped in the EIO40 inbox this week. Reading what she has to say about music that has put a smile on her face, puts a smile on our face. The fact that she had turned her attention to a band on our own radar, a band thoroughly deserving of much wider attention and who we hope to hear more from in the future, had us doing a bit of a jig.

The Salient Braves describe themselves as “Purveyors of tuneful lo-fi indie-pop”. Head honcho, Matt Bailey, hails from Barnsley and they have just released their 3rd EP which is on John Hartley’s Broken Down Records. They also have plans for a debut album in 2017.

Those are just facts. What follows is rather more important. And that is what Esther thinks of the latest offering from The Salient Braves…

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The Salient Braves
Guilty Until Proven Innocent EP
Broken Down Records

The Salient Braves’ third and latest EP “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” picks up where their last EP left off. It’ s another great collection of witty lyrics and harmonising melodies. Thankfully they continue to wear their influences from that golden C86 era of indie pop on their sleeves.

The 4-track EP kicks off with the title track, a jaunty number about a run-in with the law and subsequent bad treatment by the authorities. There’ s a great warbling trumpet throughout, as if it’s the protagonist’s voice crying out to be heard about his injustices. It’s used to great effect as a solo after he declares “I’m launching an appeal ‘cos I don’t like the meals”.

Next track “My Alter Ego” is a woozy dream pop number, starting off with a beautiful keyboard and guitar melody. It is cleverly contrasted with cutting lyrics which starts with the line, “Your heart’s not in the right place, must be somewhere beneath your shin” and has a cool boy-girl vocal exchange. It’s easy to lose yourself in this song and it’s not nearly long enough  It’s the gem on this EP.

“Boy’s Night Out” is another infectious track which everyone can relate to about the woes of not meeting someone on a night out. The EP closes with an unexpected somber tune showing Matt Bailey’s versatility in his songwriting. Minor chords, a simple bass line and haunting backing vocals are all that are needed to create its mood. With tongue planted in cheek, or maybe just humbly, he states “I’m a rhyme barrel-scraping cynical bastard”. Well, either case, give us more!

The Salient Braves have floated under the radar far too long. Get on board if you haven’t already and check out their previous releases. You do not want to say one day that this band somehow passed you by. They are currently trying to raise funds through Crowdfunder to release their first album on vinyl “Delusions of Grandeur” in 2017. Help make it happen!

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-salient-braves-delusions-of-grandeur-vinyl

You can purchase the “Guilty Until Proven Innocent EP” from the Broken Down Records Bandcamp page here

You can also find all things The Salient Braves related at the following links.

Bandcamp

Twitter

Facebook

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A native of California, a wife and mother of two, Esther can be found escaping onto Twitter as @myrtleleaf to tweet about music, a life-long passion. She still mostly lives in the past. ________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you to Esther for a another wonderful review.

Watch out for further reviews, whether it’s re-issues or new releases. If you would like to review something yourself, you know where to find us.

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EIO40 chats to JIM BOB

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We were absolutely honoured when Jim Bob agreed to swing by EIO40 HQ for a cup of tea, a slice of homemade cake and a chat about all things JB, Carter USM, writing books and other sundry stuff.

To be honest, not sure we could do an introduction justice for an interview with James “Jim Bob” Morrison. Noteable alumni of South London, famously one half of  Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, accomplished solo artist and award winning author. We could list the accolades and achievements, but won’t. We’ll be here all day. Instead we’ll just let Jim Bob’s own words tell the story.

In the usual EIO40 way of doing things, we asked a select group of the community to help us probe Jim Bob by telling us what they wanted to know about the man and his life. So a gracious thank you to our esteemed panel members @Betamax857 @jason_dobson Ray @country_mile Jon @Crowbiscuits @Dalliance68 @chemangel Dawn @Miss_D_xx  Andrew @MerrieCityMan @sharkastic Sean @Carter_69 & Graham Ricket

“So put your feet up, enjoy the show
Twenty four minutes from Tulse Hill let’s go”

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EIO40: Hi Jim. Thank you for giving up your valuable time to talk to us. Now, going back to the early days what were you like as a teenager? Were you rebellious at school?

Jim Bob: I think I was rebellious in a way. I mean when I was at school I would say I was one of the fairly good kids but I was easily manipulated by the bad kids. Definitely towards my final time at school I was hanging around with the wrong people. I didn’t go to school a lot in the last year. I think I did two exams. I did really badly at school. I went from when I was about 13 and top in maths and by the end of school I was in the non-exam group. I don’t know what that says about me. But I was always into music. I was passionate about it.

EIO40: What were you into musically back then? Those teenage years can be formative, can’t they?

Jim Bob: Yes or even before then. I mean it is the one thing I do remember quite a lot of. I had an older sister and she had quite a lot of friends that used to come round. Even when I was like around nine and she would have been about eleven, they used to listen to a lot of Ska music and stuff like that because they were like Smoothes. Did they call them Smoothes? Skinheads with hair. A sort of cross between mods and skinheads.

I probably was really into whatever she liked. Then whatever boyfriend she had I tended to get into their music. When I was probably 13 or 14 I remember a boyfriend she had for quite a while, he liked rock music. I liked whatever he had so that would have been things like Supertramp.

By then I had a lot of eclectic things going on with people I knew at school. The first band I was in, I must have been I suppose about 14. It was a band just doing rock and roll songs. The first live performance was doing Buddy Holly songs. It was a band that wasn’t really a band. I don’t think anybody could play. I think the music teacher played guitar just to link it.

I was really into rock and roll when I was young, like Bill Haley and Buddy Holly. But it was probably for really short periods of time because by the end of school when I was 15 or 16 it was punk. It was right at the end of my school that I got into that. I remember the headmaster doing an assembly and warning people about punk music. He told us that it was, “Just a phase and don’t get involved in it”.

I remember getting into trouble, not beaten up, with some other kids because I had straight jeans. I wore straight jeans and they were still wearing flares. You had to sort of be quite secretive about the fact that you might like The Stranglers or something because it was definitely frowned upon by most people, by kids I mean.

EIO40: On the subject of school, by that what we actually mean is your 2006 solo album ‘School’, is ‘Mrs McMurphy’ based on a real teacher?

Jim Bob: Yes she is. She is actually based on my daughter’s cookery teacher. In fact there are probably more. Some bits of the teachers in the album do come from her teachers at the time. She had a trendy history teacher, a really, really moody, chip on his shoulder geography teacher and a really horrible, really angry cookery teacher. I think I was just nicking those. But there did seem to be a thing about geography teachers. Do they still do options these days?  When you got to 13 and you could choose what subjects to do, people seemed to drop geography and I presume if you are a geography teacher it must be a bit, every year, “Uh, here we go again”. It is the unpopular subject.

EIO40: Can you remember the first gig that you went to?

Jim Bob: I am pretty sure that the first gig I went to was Queen in Hyde Park. They did a free gig. I went with my mates. I don’t know how old I was. I reckon 14 or something. I remember my mate went to the toilet and I never saw him again that day. I was there like terrified, surrounded by all these old hippies. But they sort of threw bottles at a lot of the support acts. I remember quite a lot of that day, particularly having to get home on my own.

I remember one of the support acts was Kiki Dee. It was around the time of, ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ with Elton John. She did that with a cardboard cut out of Elton John. But I can’t remember who sung his bits or if she did both bits. Who else was on? Steve Hillage who was like a real old hippy. I don’t know any of his music but in my head he is like Neil from The Young Ones. I think a lot of people threw piss at him. I just remember it being quite an intimidating atmosphere at that age. I am pretty sure that is the first gig I went to.

EIO40:  I understand you originally started a band with Les Carter (Fruitbat) called The Ballpoints, was that right? Was that your first band?

Jim Bob: I was in a band before. Well if you exclude the things I was in at school that weren’t really bands. I was in a band called Jeepster, which came from a T-Rex song. That was my first band. It was around the time of the mod revival, that sort of time. We were a little bit moddy. We had quite a lot of big ideas about how great we were and how all our songs were about very specific things. But we only did one gig. When we got the gig I left my job. It was my first job and I’d had it for quite a while. It was quite a good job. We had one gig in some youth club somewhere and I left work because I thought, “This is it. Here we go”.

Jeepster then sort of turned into The Ballpoints. It would have been two members of Jeepster became The Ballpoints. Then Les joined later. At that time he was a sort of a constructive destructive force. He used to come in bands and basically get rid of members, not in a horrible way but he was very good at sort of working out, “This person is holding us back” or whatever. Whereas I would just carry on. If it were up to me I wouldn’t want to upset anyone and just carry on forever and not get anywhere. Then we changed our name to Peter Pan’s Playground.

EIO40: Did you have any demo tapes from these bands?

Jim Bob: Yes we did.

EIO40: Have they ever see the light of day?

Jim Bob: No. They do exist and people are always asking about them. There are certain record labels that would like to release stuff. The Jeepster stuff to me is quite bad but it is brilliant in its badness. Whereas The Ballpoints probably stands the test of time not so well because we were trying to be serious. We were trying to be The Jam whereas before it was just fairly unique.

There is also a lot of Jamie Wednesday stuff that people are pretty much week-by-week asking us to release. I don’t know. I mean if I am honest I have to lie to people because I quite like not everything to be available. Do you know what I mean? I quite like there to be a bit of a secret for the 15 people that heard it at the time.

EIO40: Now there was a gap between The Ballpoints and Jamie Wednesday. Did you go back to work at that point?

Jim Bob: I was working. I mean not long after I left my first job I got another job. I did quite a lot of long term temp work. I was always working. But I think after The Ballpoints both Les and me were mates and that but we were both trying to do solo things. We made quite a lot of demos again. Some of those became Carter songs. I was doing solo stuff under the name Jamie Wednesday. He was doing solo stuff under the name Cartoon Carter because his surname was Carter. He was supposedly a cartoon character. But we didn’t really do anything other than just make demos really. Then at some point we decided to become a band.

I think it might have just been me wanting to play some of my songs live and Les played with me. This was around venues in Streatham and Croydon. Then maybe at some point we thought, “It would be good if we had some drums” or something like that. Then we met a sax player. A lot of times it tended to be meeting people. We met a saxophone player so therefore we had a saxophone. Then that led to Jamie Wednesday having a horn section and so on. But yes there was a time when we were just doing solo demos and that.

EIO40: A Jamie Wednesday track recently appeared on the Cherry Red C87 compilation (“We Three Kings Of Orient Aren’t”)

Jim Bob: Those albums are pretty good aren’t they? Just the amount of stuff they have on there. Cherry Red are brilliant at finding stuff. They will pretty much release anything but they are good at getting the right songs together. I suppose if you are thinking about the early ‘80s onwards there probably was an indie scene in the way there wouldn’t be now. Because now it would be so connected to money and Spotify and all the rest of it. Whereas then it was very much real. You could go and see four bands in a pub that nowadays would be playing Brixton Academy but selling fewer records.

EIO40: Okay, so moving onto Carter now. Did you ever think that you would be as successful as you were?

Jim Bob: I think we always thought we were really good right from the beginning. We always felt that. But I don’t think we planned as much when it happened as we had in the past. It all happened, with the exception of about a year at the beginning, quite quickly and quite easily so that there almost wasn’t time to really think about that.

EIO40: Watching an interview you did a few years ago, I think you said you’d only sent the demo to one label. There wasn’t any sort of shopping around per se.

Jim Bob: The whole thing came from Jamie Wednesday. The band split before a gig but we I had do something.  Les & I went into a studio in someone’s garden shed, which is where we ended up recording most of the Carter albums, and just recorded these backing tracks. Then two weeks later or possibly even less, a week later maybe, we did the gig. We weren’t rehearsing or anything like that. We did the first gig and then from that did some other gigs. Then made a demo quite soon after and gave it to the first label. They said, “Yes do you want to do a single?”

It was only after that first single that there was a gap because we got in a legal disagreement about whether they should let us record anything else with another label. Then within a year or however long it was, the next thing would have been ‘Sheriff Fatman’. That wasn’t massively successful at first but it got reviews and stuff. Yes I suppose we didn’t really have a chance to think. Then all of a sudden you are doing really well and by that point you don’t like it anymore. You do some moaning, “Oh no not another interview”.

EIO40: Was that what you were thinking this morning?

Jim Bob: (Laughs). No, Back then it was more like you know you are doing something you enjoy but you have got to spend the whole day doing 12 interviews and you start to hear yourself, you start to hear your own opinions and think, “Oh this bloke is an idiot. What is he talking about?” If I had to read back or see some of those interviews, I’d think “God, what a twat”.

EIO40: What do you consider to be your best Carter gig?

Jim Bob: I don’t know. I mean I always say Reading in ’91. Of the ones I remember, I remember that as being amazing at the time, especially because we weren’t headlining, but we sort of felt like we were. Not in an arrogant way. More we felt we were almost at the peak. Whereas when we were in Glastonbury, even though we were headlining, there were a lot of people starting to hate us. Whereas at Reading most people liked us at that point.

But then most of the reunion gigs we’ve done, I kind of think were sort of better in an odd way. Not all of them. Although a thing that surprised me was when somebody put up a load of videos somewhere. I think it was when Jon Beast died. A lot of videos and some of the old videos are just amazing to me for what it was like. In some of the gigs it looks like there is no stage because everyone is on stage, the crowds, the stage diving, it is chaos. That is quite exciting. In a way those gigs with hindsight are probably more exciting than the recent reunions that were more controlled.

EIO40: You mentioned Glastonbury in 1992, where Carter were famously banned for life by Michael Eavis following Les taking umbrage at your set being cut short. Are you still banned?

Jim Bob: Well I have played twice on the Leftfield stage since but I don’t think anybody would have noticed. Les has played there with Ferocious Dog. I don’t think we would be banned anyway. The way I look at it, without meaning to sound like I am still having a go at Glastonbury, but I imagine if Carter were big enough when we reformed to headline it then I think they would have forgotten all of that. Because didn’t Oasis headline it? I am pretty sure they said worse things about Glastonbury than we ever did. Or the Manics, they said worse.

EIO40: Now you mentioned Jon “Fat” Beast earlier who sadly passed away in 2014. At what point in your history did Jon begin introducing you and the chanting start?

Jim Bob: I think the chanting had started before he had anything to do with us. He used to be a promoter at the Bull & Gate in Kentish Town. He had a club there called Time Box. Carter played there quite early, very early on. Everybody played there, bands whose names have slipped my mind now. No only did he promote but he also did the lights. There weren’t many lights but he did the lights. All I remember is they had a box at the back upstairs where he’d do the lights. For some reason, considering he was the light man, he had a microphone. So he would just sort of heckle us because that was his character.

Then at some point he said he thought we needed lights. We didn’t have any lights. We weren’t a band with lights. It was just me and Les and a cassette recorder. He was obsessed with us having lights and I think we kind of resisted it. Then by the time we did have some lights we were doing a sort of college tour and he wanted to come along and do the lights. He said he didn’t want to be paid. He would just sell the merch and take some money from that. We said, “No”.

Then the first day of tour we turned up and he was there. He just came. We just couldn’t avoid him so he was just there. Then at some point he introduced us and the Fat Bastard thing happened, but I think he had already done it for Mega City Four. They were already shouting it at him for that because it was a football thing anyway, wasn’t it?

He was still doing our lights so he would introduce us and then come to the back and do the lights. At some point I think he lost interest in the lighting part of it and he got someone else in to help him. In the end he was just doing that.

EIO40: Naturally we’d like to know a bit more about those memorable lyrics you come up with. Is there is any particular Carter song you are most proud of lyrically?

Jim Bob: There are loads of little bits. There are lots of lines. I can’t think of any. But lines of mine where I think, “That’s quite clever”. ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’ as a total song I guess. It has got everything in it but it is not too, you know it has got all the puns in it but not at a point where it is a bit too embarrassing. ‘The tequila sun is rising and the Harvey’s Bristol moon is sinking’, is a line I really like. At the time I felt quite a sort of certain pride, awkward pride I suppose about the way that song meant a lot to people, people who were having difficulty, sort of the way people related to it. It was horrible that they related to it, but they said that was a positive thing.

But the lines that people quote are often things that I nicked. Not nicked but like, I don’t know, I think of things like people sometimes quote, “You can’t judge a book by its cover but you can tell how much it cost”. That came from a film. That is not me. But I often see people say, “Oh genius”. The genius wasn’t me. That is from Brideshead Revisited. I am not saying they are all stolen. It is like Morrissey and The Smiths. With a lot of his stuff you find you are watching a film and somebody says something and you go, “Hang on. That is a Smiths song”.

I think the reason why our music is never used in films and adverts is probably because the lyrics were very specific. They tend to stick out. That is a good thing, but a bad thing financially. But yes, because if you hear ‘Sheriff Fatman’ in a film you are hearing all that stuff going on. Whereas you can play, I don’t know, say The Stone Roses and you’re not quite sure what it is about. Is it about a woman banging some drums?

I met this bloke in Germany once who wrote some sort of thesis or something about the lyrics of ‘The Only Living Boy in New Cross’ from a German perspective. He explained what they were all about. It was really interesting because there were so many different levels to it that I kind of ignored, that most people ignored. For example it would be, ‘Hello, good evening and welcome to nothing much’ and he’d have to explain about David Frost and where that came from. And that New Cross was a place in South London but it refers back to Only Living Boy in New York.

EIO40: What was your best memory from your time with Carter?

Jim Bob: I’m not sure. Some of it is not that clear but the early days in a way were really exciting.When ‘101 Damnations’ got in the indie chart and then the actual chart. Then being at a gig when that happened, how exciting that was because it was new. Later on it gets to that point where you think, “Oh. Only number two?” But moments like that, you don’t tend to remember in a precise way.

In more recent times I do remember I got that feeling when we did the first reunion gig at Glasgow Barrowlands, the first proper sort of reunion. Walking through the venue during the day when they were setting all the lights and everything up and thinking, I had a real sort of feeling, “This is not just for me, but this is for me”. It was the biggest rush. It was quite a good feeling. I think I used to like that at gigs. I used to like walking around an empty Brixton Academy knowing it was sold out and that you are kind of responsible for that. That was a really good feeling.

Also the fact that, apart from the band and people working there and the audience, not really anybody else knows about it. Kind of outside of that small circle certainly with the reforming things, people just don’t know it happened. Do you know what I mean? Because it is not in the press. Everyone just still thinks, “Oh that band from the past”. Yes I like that sort of feeling. I miss that.

Then of course the large riders. It is always good to see a large pile of alcohol in a room that you can’t get when you are playing in a pub.

EIO40: When you did that first reunion, how difficult was it to decide on a set list?

Jim Bob: If it was entirely up to me it would have been relatively easy. I mean Les would be more inclined to do some ones that were more challenging to him and to the audience. Whereas I was quite happy to just do the obvious ones. We played quite long sets as you definitely have to play longer sets when it’s a comeback gig because you can’t just base it all around a new album. You have got to do everything. We’d had 14 singles or something so we sort of had to do most of those I think, if not all of them. Then there were songs that we were obviously going to do, ‘Prince in a Pauper’s Grave’ and things like that. It mostly does itself really I think.

It was good when we did the four albums thing because we definitely played songs there that we had never played live before. That was quite good to do that.

EIO40: You were forced to do songs you wouldn’t normally play?

Jim Bob: Yes, and to play them in the right order because people don’t do that very often. But it is bullshit isn’t it? Because you come on and you say, “We are doing all this album and then we are going to do loads of hits afterwards”. Then you look at it and just think, “Technically I am doing the same set just in a different order”. Maybe there are a couple that you wouldn’t normally do.

EIO40: You’ve probably seen on Twitter and social media, as we most certainly have, that people have kept all their posters, T shirts and other memorabilia. Have you kept any of that yourself?

Jim Bob: Yes. It is not in an organised way, but I have definitely got a lot of stuff. There is a lot of stuff under the bed. There is a big silver chest. It is not made of silver, a silver cover with loads of t-shirts inside. I have got a lot more of the old stuff than I have of the new stuff. I probably haven’t got most of the new Carter shirts but I have got all the old ones. They were better made in those days as well. Although surprisingly few CDs and that sort of stuff. I have probably got one copy of ’30 Something’.

EIO40: Is there a particular item that you have a fondness for?

Jim Bob: I quite like the gold discs just because they look like prizes don’t they?

EIO40: Assume they are not shoved under the bed?

Jim Bob: No, but they are not hanging up. They are just there. There are good things that people gave us just sort of sitting there gathering dust, like puppets from Japan. People made puppets of Les and me. Things like that are pretty cool.
A more recent thing which was for the last Brixton Academy gig, someone had reproduced the tickets for all the times we played there, might have been 25 times, and had framed them with a picture of the venue. They gave that to Les and me. Things like that are wonderful.

EIO40: After having been in a band for so long how did it it feel performing solo?

Jim Bob: Well, because after Carter the first thing I did was ‘Jim’s Super Stereoworld’, so it was another band technically, live anyway. The first gig I did with ‘Jim’s Super Stereoworld’ was fine, because it was packed. Then we did Reading and Leeds, on the smaller stage, and that was okay. Then the first gig outside London was a shock. I remember that. Basically because there was no-one there. (Laughter). That shook me a bit.

EIO40: It was a different world that what you had been used to?

Jim Bob: Yes. I thought, “Oh, right.” and that carried on for a while.

EIO40: Do you feel more vulnerable performing on the stage as a solo artist?

Jim Bob: No. Because when going on tour one of the reasons I don’t do that many gigs anymore, definitely one of the reasons, is that even though it’s just me and a guitar I can’t do gigs on my own completely. I mean, I can but I’ve hardly done any. There’s always someone with me. I can’t drive, so someone usually has to drive. So that’s Mr Spoons. Then there will probably be Marc (Ollington) or someone else there, selling any merchandise or whatever, and collecting the money, things like that. If I went on my own I wouldn’t collect the money, because I would be too timid to go and ask for it. (Laughter) I would feel I was insulting people by asking to be paid. So they’re there and that makes it almost like having a band, in a funny sort of way, even though they’re not onstage.

Playing solo doesn’t scare me in any way, and it means I can do whatever I want, I suppose, song-wise and that. Then getting back together with Les you sort of realise that some things are better being onstage with someone else or as a band.  Also there’s a fine line between band and solo with me and Carter, because technically I suppose we were a duo, so we weren’t really a band then. So that’s good, that feeling of having someone else there, but also you end up having disagreements about the tiniest things, that you would never disagree about on your own.

For me it’s very much an audience thing, depending who the audience is and how many of them there are. Probably my biggest – well, I think it is my biggest fear, in terms of being a performer, is empty venues. I really can’t deal with it. And that’s transferred into book readings being the same sort of thing. It’s not size of venue. If I played in your living room, and say it holds 25 people or something, and there were 25 people here, I would be happier with that than I would be at a 600 capacity venue with 100 people there. Doing those ‘Jim’s Super Stereoworld’ things to empty venues with a band was less of an issue, because we had a good time as a group of people.

EIO40: Is there particular artist that you would like to perform onstage with, alive or dead?

Jim Bob: Only in a fantasy type way. In reality I think it would be awful. It’s all bloody… It’s very much about that now, isn’t it? Collaboration is what everyone does. I can’t think of anybody obvious. There are people that I like and admire. I like Elvis Costello, but I don’t know what it would be like performing with him. Yes, I would say Elvis Costello.

EIO40: Is there a song that you wish you had written?

Jim Bob: Oh, God. Yes, there are probably quite a few, but they tend to be what I hear on the radio. Say a really simple song. I do remember not long ago hearing ‘The Air That I Breathe’ by The Hollies, and I thought, “Oh, I wish I had written this.” (Laughter) Those sort of real just brilliant songs.

They’re not massively clever. They’re just really simple, with brilliant melodies and that. There are a lot of those. Probably a lot of older songs. Those sort of things. I like ‘The Long And Winding Road’. Just simple, usually slow songs. I like a lot of Nick Cave, but I think it’s Nick Cave that I like as much as the songs, if you know what I mean.

EIO40: Turning to your solo stuff. ‘School’ and ‘Goffam’ were concept albums. How did you get the idea for those?

Jim Bob: I think ‘School’ was the only one that’s an actual proper concept. I’m trying to think if there was a first song on that that sparked it. I think it was ‘The Orchestra Song’. I think that’s how it started. I just had this idea, and then I wrote songs very quickly, I think it only took a couple of weeks or something, about a school orchestra. I’m sure it’s probably been done, and it’s probably a corny thing that’s been done in films, but the idea of a fame school being saved by a visionary headmaster who forms an orchestra. Not even a good orchestra. So that’s how that happened.

Then I had rules that I gave myself that all the songs had to be possible to be played by a school band. When I say school band I’m probably thinking of a school band from years ago, not now, because they’re probably all studio whizz-kids now. Some people didn’t like the album, because it didn’t have any bass and stuff like that, but I was thinking very much traditional, old-school instruments. So there are a lot of tambourines, and people banging things and lots of percussion.

It came together very quickly, writing around things that I remembered from school, teachers, and fights between schools, stuff like that. I thought it would be a musical. I still think maybe one day. If I was Damon Albarn these ideas would happen, but because I’m not Damon Albarn… I don’t know what I mean by that. Well, I do know what I mean by that. I imagine it as being a fairly simple musical that was performed in schools by schools. Schools would put on their own version of it. That was sort of how I saw that, but I haven’t actually written or got anywhere. No-one has written a script as such. But I think it’s all there. Like I say, if I was Damon Albarn somebody would give me £1m.

Goffam was a looser idea. A fairly simple idea. I don’t know where that came from. I think it was just a fairly half-arsed idea, but it was an idea about some terrible superheroes. Superheroes who just weren’t very good. Scared superheroes, in an inner-city deprived area, with superheroes who don’t really bother helping anybody. With ‘It’s A Humpty Dumpty Thing’, that was another loose idea about working in an office.

EIO40: There was a time then it was a bit confusing for us, whether it was Jim Bob or JR Morrison. There seemed to be an overlap.

Jim Bob: Yes. What happened there was I liked doing ‘Super Stereoworld’. I think even though it was a massive failure as a band I really liked the whole thing about it. But for some reason it was probably trying to get as far away from Carter maybe at the time, so I didn’t want to call myself Jim Bob. With hindsight, if I had called myself Jim Bob I think things probably would have been different maybe. So I think the JR Morrison thing was me still not quite ready to just give in to that. So I think whatever I did after that, I don’t remember what that was, was probably me thinking, “Oh, yes, just call me Jim Bob now”

When I did Carter songs live for the first time, Les really didn’t like it, for example. He doesn’t care now. He didn’t stop me, but I know he didn’t like it. I can understand that. Because that happens a lot, doesn’t it? Bands split up. Especially when there’s two of you. With Oasis maybe as some sort of example, The Smiths. When they split up the band, and then they did their own stuff, and then at some point both members start playing the band songs. It’s definitely happened with all those. Because Morrissey didn’t do that many Smiths songs, but now he does quite a few. Johnny Marr didn’t do any, I don’t think, but now he does. I’m pretty sure the Gallagher brothers have started doing Oasis songs, haven’t they? Probably when Les came to terms with it, was when he introduced a Carter song into his Abdoujaparov set.

EIO40: Moving on to books, was it an easy transition from being a musician/artist to becoming an author? Is it similar to song-writing or a completely different process?

Jim Bob: There are aspects of it that are the same, or that were the same. Like trying to construct sentences in an interesting way. Certain bits can take a long time and can drive you mad. And just trying to word a sentence. That did happen with song-writing. I could spend ages on one line.

I’m writing a book at the moment, which I’ve been writing for quite a long time now. It certainly feels like a long time. The process has probably changed now from when I wrote the first one. Because it would be more alien for me now to try and write a song than it would be to write a book now, if that makes sense.

I think it’s a lot harder to write books, because with music you can get away with a lot more. Firstly, you can do an album like ‘I Blame The Government’, which I don’t like now, but you would get away with that. Whereas with a book it’s not going to get printed if it’s not good, or up to some sort of standard, especially now. So that’s harder.

The hardest thing I would say for me is that you can’t get anyone’s opinion until it’s too late.  I wrote 80,000 words of the latest thing, and my agent didn’t like it. That’s after I had written 80,000 words, by which time that’s a year and a half or something,  With a song I could have said, “Do you like this?” “No.” “Okay.” That’s one thing.

The other thing is with a song, I would know straight away. I’ve never listened to a song, and someone else has told me it’s bad, and I’ve thought, “Oh, yes, you’re right.” Do you know what I mean? Whereas a book you really need other people’s opinions, but you can’t get them until you’ve done all the bloody work. (Laughter) That’s the worst thing for me, I think. And the not knowing at any point whether what you’re doing is a complete waste of time.

EIO40: Where did the inspiration for the character ‘Frank Derrick’ came from?

Jim Bob: Oh, it was entirely my mum. It was 100% my mum really. All the books up until now, there have been bits of people in there. Just tiny bits. Then exaggerated. ‘Storage Stories’, there’s probably a lot of me in there, in an obvious sort of way. ‘Jarvis Ham’, there’s a couple of people I know in there. With ‘Frank Derrick’, at that time my mum was 81. That’s the first giveaway. She was living basically all the things that was the setup with Frank. She was 81. She was living in a first floor flat in a village where it’s all bungalows. She had no money. She was just a fairly disastrous person, in terms of dealing with money and stuff like that. People were constantly knocking on her door offering to do her roof and stuff. Trying to get money out of her basically.

Because I was the nearest one in the family, even though I was 60 miles away, I spent quite a lot of time there. I would go down once a week. Then it became twice a week. Then she was ringing me five times a day. Then she started to get a bit… Let’s say ill, shall we? So I think just because I was spending so much time with her I wanted to write a book about somebody like that, about somebody of that age, who was realistic but also quite entertaining. Whereas the second Frank Derrick book was nothing to do with her. By then he was his own character, with other things created around him.

Yes, without my mum I wouldn’t have done it at all. So there are a lot of very specific things in there that I’ve just copied from her life, but maybe, like the Carter songs, exaggerated. Like she would buy crap from a charity shop all the time and presume it was all worth a lot of money. It never, ever was. Yes, that kind of stuff.

EIO40: Will we be hearing from Frank again in the future?

Jim Bob: I don’t know. I’m writing a different book at the moment about something else. It’s possible. The people who have read both books, a certain amount of people do want another one, but it’s a question of whether a publisher would want to publish it. It would also have to feel as though it wasn’t just, like I say, an old man going on an adventure. Because the first one is him in his normal life, and then the second one is very much like ‘Mutiny On The Buses’ or something.

EIO40: You are on a solo UK tour in December, what can people expect?

Jim Bob: Song-wise I think it will probably be half and half, or thereabouts, of Carter songs and not Carter songs. So there will be hopefully something for everyone. Chris T-T is the support, so we might do something together as well.  The bulk of it will be me, the guitar, singing mostly the songs that people know. And I imagine, going from past experience, a lot of people singing along.

Certain gigs I’ve done in the past, especially some I remember on the last tour, a lot of the bad gigs were the ones where the Carter logo was so much bigger than my name. (Laughter). I have done gigs before and it said, ‘Jim Bob from Carter’, and the Carter was massive. That’s quite rude, really, isn’t it, in a way? I definitely did at least one ‘Jim’s Super Stereoworld’ gig where it was only a billing on a blackboard but they billed it as ‘Carter USM’. They just put ‘Carter USM’. (Laughter)

EIO40: Talking of being on tour. What is your least favourite road?

Jim Bob: Least favourite road? I think I wrote about this. I definitely did write about this. (Laughter). There’s a bit where you used to come in off the A3 or something. I just don’t know what road it is. It’s a road where we just used to recognise everything on it coming back from a tour, and it used to really depress me. Now, because I go to Devon quite a bit, and come home the same way, there’s that bit when you hit Wimbledon, just on the outskirts of Wimbledon, and that’s it. You’re suddenly in a traffic jam. And you know you’re back in London because everyone is rude and horrible. (Laughter) And it takes as long to get 5 miles as it’s just taken you to do 200 miles. So whatever that road is called, the one that goes over the tram track in Wimbledon. (Laughter)

EIO40: What is the most common misconception people have of you?

Jim Bob: The obvious ones would be the shorts and cycle hats. Because it never goes away. I heard recently somebody, I’m not going to name, a well-known person on a proper radio station, who should have known better, asking a question about, “Oh, yes, they always wore those shorts and those cycle hats, didn’t they?” The thing is, I didn’t wear shorts quite so much. I never wore a cycle hat. So that’s one thing.

There’s a lot of annoying things. Like people just thought that the band and the audience were very thuggish. Which I don’t think was true. Actually, the other thing I’ve just remembered is the assumption that I somehow, I was in any way involved in attacking Phillip Schofield. That was 100% Les. (Laughter)

EIO40: He’s got you in trouble a few times hasn’t he, what with Glastonbury?

Jim Bob: Yes, I know.

EIO40: Having been in a successful band, we are interested in your thoughts on the current environment for bands and artists compared to back in the day. Is it harder for them or easier considering how music can be accessed these days?

Jim Bob: As far as I can tell, I would say it certainly seems harder. I think the thing is that the levels of success maybe have changed dramatically. So you’ve got people who are more successful than they used to be, but then there’s quite a big drop to the next level. Whereas in the past you would have U2, say, and then Carter, but Carter was still really successful.

Now you would have U2, and then the equivalent of Carter would still have to have day jobs. And we would be giving away all our music, because it was the only way anybody could hear it. I think that’s the hardest thing, for people to make any money. Some of the things that we didn’t do, we refused to do, now you would have no choice. Like having sponsors names. We never had brand names near the stage and stuff like that. Now I would imagine that’s physically impossible, because all the venues are sponsored anyway.

And there’s so much emphasis on how you release stuff. Whereas before it was nothing to do with bands, was it? I mean we resisted CDs, definitely, for a while. We resisted things like the “buy one get one free” thing that was going on. We didn’t like that. And the extra tracks. We resisted all of that, but eventually gave in, I think.

Now it’s, “It will be released exclusively on Spotify”, after everyone has heard it on the Guardian website. That kind of thing. And the last people in the chain are the people who actually pay. I buy CDs still. So it’s quite frustrating when you buy a CD but you have to wait two weeks longer than everybody else before you can hear it, unless you want to just listen to it. But I feel like, “I’m going to wait.” (Laughter). Everyone moans. All the old bands moan that they’re not making any money anymore.

EIO40: What sort of music would be on your tour bus stereo?

Jim Bob: I haven’t done it for a while, so it would have changed, but there would be three or four of us on tour, because Chris would be there. When we first started doing it we had CDs probably. Then we did it with iPods. So I’m guessing we would be doing it with phones or something this time. So we’ve always done that. We will get 40/45 minutes each or something. There are certain things that you get used to hearing. Like with Marc Ollington, you know what you’re going to hear. Lots of David Bowie, Morrissey, and Pet Shop Boys. With me you know you’re going to get lots of The Jam and Elvis Costello.

Because I’m writing all the time at the moment, I do listen to music but it tends to be music that I know really well. I listen to a lot of old stuff. I think I’ve got possibly 30 different Elvis Costello albums. He’s made so many albums. So it’s that thing of thinking, “Right, what am I going to put on?” And you think, “Oh, one of these ones or something else?” So I haven’t bought a lot of new music , but I try and chuck in a few new ones, so as not to appear like a complete old fart. I really like Courtney Barnett and Sleaford Mods, but apparently they didn’t like us liking them. Actually , I’m not sure if that is true. This is hearsay. Somebody told me. (Laughter) They thought we were just pretending to like them to look cool or something. I do really like them though.

Oh, I bought the Dexys album, the Dexys Irish thing. That’s a mad album. I used to really like Dexys when they were Dexys Midnight Runners. I was a big fan. Everything they did I thought was amazing. Then years later… Actually this is not a particularly good story. It just was weird. It must have been around the time of the solo album. I was in a club with, I think I was with Clint Boon and he was meeting Kevin Rowland, and so there he was with Kevin and I was “It’s Kevin Rowland!.”
Then Clint Boon had to go off and do something, so I got left standing in this club, and it was really awkward, because he was quite quiet and I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to say, “Oh, you’re great.” (Laughter) But we just  just sort of stood there not talking. So yes, that’s weird.

I love meeting famous people. Especially when they’re, to my mind, really famous. And then you tell people who you’ve met and it’s disappointing when they don’t know who you mean. (Laughter). I do go on about Cillian Murphy being at the last Carter gig. Do you know Cillian Murphy?

EIO40: Who?

Jim Bob: From Peaky Blinders? The actor? The Hollywood actor? See, that’s what I mean. It’s that kind of thing. Ask your missus. She will know. Women love him. It’s that kind of story. Because to me it’s like, “Fucking Cillian Murphy.” He came in the dressing room, and we had a chat and that. Actually, he knew The Frank & Walters, because he is from Cork. He knew The Frank and Walters! So that’s good. I never quite got over that.

Before that I met Juliette Binoche, which was weird. I had written about her in my first book. I was with my girlfriend and
Juliette was doing a play at the Barbican, and the sound person was this French guy who I knew, who was a Carter fan. I’ve known him for years. He got us tickets, so we went to see it.

Then afterwards we were just going to go to the pub, and then he said, “Oh, don’t you want to meet Juliette?” “What?” I thought it was going to be some sort of green room thing, or press thing, with lots of people. It was just us in her dressing room with her. I think I was going to pieces a bit, and my girlfriend was just having a chat with her as though like… (Laughter). To me it was amazing. An Oscar winning actress. But then I just tell some people and they go, “Who’s that then?”

I don’t know why I started talking about that, but yes, I love meeting famous people.

EIO40: Okay, so you’re a songwriter, musician and now an award wining author, which begs the question. What you are going to turn your hand to next?

Jim Bob: Blimey! I think I will stick with books for a while. Off the top of my head I don’t think there’s anything else I can do. They’re both related to writing, I suppose. I was asked to write a film. There was one for that Word Count mini-novel thing that came with the Humpty Dumpty album. That was adapted for a film years ago, but it was never completed. There’s a ‘Storage Stories’ television series thing on it. But these are all just things that I was doing with someone else, and he did all the work basically. I just used to go and meet him and say, “Yes, that’s a good idea.”

I imagine I will make some more music or something one day, but it’s quite difficult. It’s the admin that just does my head in. Because I think the last album I did was one of the best things I’ve done, just ever, but getting that together, just booking the studio. I think there are 29 people on it or something. In the days of Carter I didn’t do any of that. I never knew what we got paid or anything really. Somebody could have just been stealing it all. I never would have known.

EIO40: Have you ever thought about getting a full band back together?

Jim Bob: Yes, I’ve thought about it. I would love to do that, but again, like I say, it’s mostly the admin. I don’t like the admin.
Friends of mine who played on the albums, just getting them to commit to be in the same room, on the same day, as the other people, that kind of thing. Which can be really complicated. Booking rehearsal studios. Then you have to hire a van.

That’s what I was saying earlier, about why I haven’t done so many gigs. Because the people I go on tour with have got more demanding jobs, and just can’t commit to it anymore, and I don’t want to do it on my own, and I don’t want to pay someone I don’t know to do it. So I would rather not bother.

So yes, I would love to have a band. I would like to have a really good band. I would like to have The Bad Seeds. That band specifically. Jim Bob & The Bad Seeds. (Laughter) That would be perfect. I would like that.

EIO40: The last album was well received. So are we going to see any new music from Jim Bob in the foreseeable?

Jim Bob: Not at the moment. With the last solo album specifically I suddenly had the urge to do it, and wrote the songs, and once I started they were finished quickly. But I don’t want to force it. See, that’s the way I see ‘I Blame the Government’. Also, there was one solo album where I felt, “Oh, I should probably make an album now.” Then I look back and I don’t know what the songs are about. So it will happen, but it won’t happen until it happens.

EIO40: Cheers Jim. Thank you for taking the time to talk to EIO40

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We hope you’ve enjoyed our chat with Jim Bob.

Jim is currently on a UK tour with Chris T-T. He will also be playing on the Hull to Amsterdam Shiiine On Mini-Cruise in March 2017 and the Shiiine On 2017 festival in November. He will also be appearing at the Down The River Indie All-Dayer in Norwich in May.

You can find find more about the current tour, future live dates as well as all things Jim Bob related at his website

http://www.jim-bob.co.uk

Feature photo by Jacqueline and Holly and taken from Jim Bob “School” album (2006)

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The Haywains “The Girl In The Holly Court Diner EP” – Review

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The Haywains are back and so is regular EIO40 contributor Esther (@myrtleleaf) with her review of their latest offering. This is the first release on new label Whoops! Records

Here is what Esther had to say about the new Haywains EP….

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The Haywains
The Girl In The Holly Court Diner EP
Whoops! Records

I can’t keep up with new gems hidden among the mountain of releases available in the many ways we discover music today. To add to that, I’m constantly discovering music from bands that passed me by in the mid 80’s and 90’s, my favorite eras in music.

So it’s with luck that I was given an opportunity to review this new release and revisit a group whose name and distinct retro cover art I was familiar with, though I had not followed their music closely. The Haywains had released several singles and two albums in the span of 8 years before disbanding in 1995. They reformed in 2013 for a reunion tour (25 years!), picking up right where they left off, where thankfully they continue to make great guitar pop, keeping the spirit of indie pop alive and well.

Their most recent EP, The Girl In The Holly Court Diner, is a batch of lively and catchy songs centered on love. The title track starts off with a great driving beat and an unexpected baritone I hadn’t heard in their earlier releases, but is lightened by a great melody. Another Boy’s Girl picks up the pace and adds a cool chord change as the song ends. LoveTorpedo! continues the theme centred around love with some alternating dual male vocals. The swooning It’s A Long Way Home When You Lose reminisces about better days (including a once winning football season). There’s a glockenspiel and keyboard and by now I’m won over by that baritone. The song fades to just guitar, it’s the perfect closer.

This EP is great place to start if you’re not already familiar with the band’s work.

The bundle of goodies you get with the EP

The Girl In The Holly Court Diner 7″ EP is limited to 300 copies so get in there quick if it’s up your street. All The Haywains releases are also available through their bandcamp page from which you can also link to their website.

https://thehaywains.bandcamp.com/album/girl-in-the-holly-court-diner-e-p
https://thehaywains.bandcamp.com/
http://www.haywains.co.uk/

http://www.whoops-records.co.uk

Esther

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A native of California, a wife and mother of two, Esther can be found escaping onto Twitter as @myrtleleaf to tweet about music, a life-long passion. She still mostly lives in the past. ________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you to Esther for a another wonderful review.

Watch out for further reviews, whether it’s re-issues or new releases. If you would like to review something yourself, you know where to find us.

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OF THE FIELD MICE & ME – Rob Morgan

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Twenty five years ago today – 21st November 1991 – The Field Mice played their final gig at the Dome in London before splitting up. Huge Field Mice fan and regular contributor to the EIO40 website, Rob Morgan asked us if he could write an article to celebrate their music and what it meant to him. We didn’t need to think about it twice. So have a read as Rob reflects upon the Field Mice songs and albums, how they have impacted on his life and how they introduced him to the world of Sarah Records and indie pop.

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Like so much great music, it was John Peel who introduced me to The Field Mice. In fact it was the listeners rather than Peel himself, as the first time I heard the Field Mice was on the 1989 Festive Fifty. It was their second single “Sensitive” and the first time I heard it I thought “Yes that’s good, I like that…” In fact my diary states “Heard a song which was like the Wedding Present, only a thousand times better”. But it took me a while for the song to worm it’s way into my heart.

I’d taped the Festive Fifty and kept returning to that song, there was something there which drew me in. Was it the wall of guitars which punched through the song? Maybe it was the shy yet powerful words? Or the singer’s lack of forcefulness, which made him sound like me? It was a combination of all of these things – and the fact “Sensitive” was a bloody good song – that won me over. Then there was something else Peel said – “The first Sarah Record to make the Festive Fifty” – what was the significance of that? I should have known this, I read the music papers every week, didn’t I?

During the early Summer of 1990 I started to do some research into what Sarah Records was. At this point, I should mention, I was quite dismissive of the majority of indie pop – sure I loved a lot of the music on Creation Records like MBV, Felt and Ride but most of the C86 music and the jingle jangle nonsense that followed it had passed me by. Indeed the phrase “jingle jangle nonsense” was often quoted from my diary at the time. I loved all the Factory Records acts – especially the more obscure ones like Stockholm Monsters and The Wake – that was more my scene.

But now I wanted to know about Sarah Records. Most of what I found in my stacks of music papers rubbished the output of the label and seemed to back up my prejudice. However my brother had a pile of the fanzine Bucketful Of Brains and lo and behold there was a half page article in there on Sarah, which told me more than the combined knowledge of the music papers. This piqued my interest, and then I noticed that Sarah had issued a compilation called “Temple Cloud” which included “Sensitive”.

I bought the LP early in August 1990 and it opened up a whole new world of music for me. Each of the sixteen songs was brilliant and the three songs by The Field Mice stood out. “Sensitive” was there, sounding loud and proud, while “If You Need Someone” was a perfect pop song, chiming guitars and a lyric I could identify with, and “Song 6” felt like all my thoughts about the beery blokes I was unlucky enough to hang around with and how they treated their girlfriends. These songs spoke to me like few songs I’d heard before.

And I wanted more.

Temple Cloud photo

The day after buying “Temple Cloud” I hurried back to Cardiff and bought the first two mini albums by the Field Mice – a ten inch called “Snowball” and a twelve inch called “Skywriting”. I can still clearly remember getting the records home and examining them on my bed before playing them. “Snowball” was purple, very purple – nothing at all on the front, the barest of details on the reverse. This was as minimal as my beloved Factory Records, and in places it sounded like The Wake or New Order too. Opener “Let’s Kiss and Make Up” pulsed for seven minutes on a bed of sequencers and drum machines while closer “Letting Go” could have come straight from “Harmony”, the debut album by The Wake – the mournful air, the mumbled vocal, the bass leading the way.

Between those two were six songs which veered between Byrds-y jangle pop (“Everything About You” and “Couldn’t Feel Safer”) and deeper more thoughtful songs – “End of the Affair” is tinged with sadness, arpeggio guitars and oboes sighing while “White” is astonishing – a wall of noise guitars, hammered drums and words which cut me deep. Then the lyrics shocked me.

“Time and again I dream about you, I haven’t seen you for so long…do you ever think about me? Where are you now? Wherever you are I hope you are happy and that life is being good to you”.

That lyric would just about sum up how I felt about a number of members of the opposite sex by that point, all those unrequited loves I’d had. And The Field Mice had put it in a song! As if to prove the futility of those thoughts, the singing stopped and huge waves of distorted flanged guitar overtook the song. What a thrilling song, yet so close to my heart.

Field Mice Press Skywriting

If “Snowball” was great, then “Skywriting” was stunning. Every song was different but every song was fantastic. The opener “Triangle” spread out for ten minutes across all of side one and sounded like “Let’s Kiss and Make Up”‘s older brother, more pulsing synths, more drum machines, the bass like Peter Hook, those loud flanged guitars were back, and the minimal lyrics were perfect, lovelorn and hopeless.

Over on side two, The Field Mice swung through country (“Canada”), perfect wistful guitar pop (“Clearer”), tense post punk (“It Isn’t Forever”) and more. The final two songs were a shock. “Below The Stars” was a gorgeous weightless ballad, drifting over six minutes while the singer extrapolates the feelings from “White” – thinking of a lost love, wondering where they are – in a poignant way. If I didn’t have a tear in my eye on that first listen, I’ll say that I’ve listened many times since with tears rolling down my cheeks. Finally “Humblebee” is just odd – a guitar jangles in the distance while a barrage of spoken word samples make a deafening cacophony, it’s like “Revolution #9” for the Indie set, replacing the loop of “Number Nine” with “Chocolate Love Sex” – very disquieting and slightly unnerving.

My clichéd ideas of what a Sarah Records band would sound like were shattered. The Field Mice seemed to be capable of all kinds of music, but with a heart and lyrical honesty that touched my soul. These were songs I’d been wanting to hear – had been trying to write even – all my life, and there was a clear headed, plain speaking honesty which struck a chord with me. The Field Mice were my new favourite band.

Of course I wanted more records by them, so a week later I took another trip to Cardiff and bought the two part “Autumn Store” singles as these seemed to be all that the record shops of Wales’ capital city had at the time. While the five songs across the two singles weren’t the revelation that “Skywriting” had been they still still had their moments. “The World To Me” was a whirlwind of jangles and trumpets, “Anyone Else Isn’t You” tiptoed along the line between twee and sickly while “Bleak” painted a portrait of someone hiding themselves away from life which sounded scarily familiar. Yes, that sounded like me.

Field Mice Press Autumn

By now I was scouring through the music papers for any information on the band, and I didn’t find much. They certainly weren’t on the front page of the NME or Melody Maker. Scanning through back issues I found a few reviews and a very small article on The Field Mice but generally the music press didn’t give them much attention. Around October 1990 Melody Maker made their new EP “So Said Kay” single of the week and that was the first I knew of the new release.

I bought it that day, a big pink ten inch five song EP and gasped in wonder at the new songs. Gone were the sequencers, it was all guitars and occasional string synths, plus percussion, but oh the songs were so good! “Landmark” was slow and resigned and my interpretation of the song was completely different to the MM version. “Holland Street” was an instrumental which built and built to a glorious climax. “Indian Ocean” was hopeful of finding love, which gave me hope.

But there were two outstanding songs – “Quicksilver” and “So Said Kay”. The former had some beautiful heart stopping spine tingling chord changes and a lyric which could have been ripped straight out of my diary and worked well as the final part of a triptych with “White” and “Below The Stars”. On the other hand “So Said Kay” built up slowly from acoustic guitar and oboe, to include a melodic bass, piano, string synth and a lyric which sounded like a cut up conversation, leading to the repeated line “She reached in and placed a string of lights around this heart of mine”. I didn’t know then the lyric was excerpts from the film “Desert Hearts”, I just knew it was special. I taped the EP three times onto a C90 and played it constantly.

There must have been some problem with distribution of records around the winter of 1990 (probably the collapse of Rough Trade Distribution) because it took me ages to find the first two Field Mice singles, finally locating them in March 1991. “Sensitive” was as great as I knew it was, having played it on “Temple Cloud” and the b side “When Morning Comes To Town” was a bittersweet duet about the point a couple start to realise their relationship is over.

Meanwhile the Field Mice’s debut EP was bedroom pop pure and simple – so spare, so stark, the guitars ringing out and the cheap drum machine holding down the beat, and yet again lyrics which cut deep. “Emma’s House” had the same yearning melancholy I heard in their later songs, while “Fabulous Friend” had more heart stopping lyrics – “I’m not brave, I’m not special, I’m not of those things”, that could be my mantra.

Emma September photo

By now I was fully immersed in The Field Mice, desperate for any information on them, and making compilation tapes for friends, trying to convert them because I like to share, I wanted confirmation from other people that The Field Mice were as great as I thought they were. After all the music press were still sniffy about them, the Melody Maker review of their new single “September’s Not So Far Away” was ridiculous nonsense which said nothing about the song itself.

“September…” was wonderful, the band suddenly sounded like a band, the drum machine had been packed away and the song now had a real drummer, and there were more twelve string guitars and male female harmonies – The Field Mice had grown up and turned all their Byrds dreams into reality. On the b side there were only two guitars and two voices but it was just as lovely, memories of love and that yearning again. Around this time I bought a fanzine with a Field Mice interview which started to put some of the pieces of their story into context. The last line was worrying though – asked what their hopes for the future were, lead singer Bob Wratten replied “I hope we make an album before we split up”.

Summer 1991 brought the release of a Field Mice compilation “Coastal”, fourteen songs from their previous records which were starting to sell out. It was great to have some Field Mice on CD – Sarah Records were very much a vinyl label, I think the CDs of their early albums were made through a distribution deal with France. And it was also nice to see “Coastal” receive good reviews in the music press, and for it to reach number one in the Indie album charts. It looked like the Field Mice were more popular than I thought.

September 1991 brought with it “Missing The Moon”, an actual twelve inch single though sold for the price of a seven inch. The title track was everything I had hoped – a huge glowing pulsing indie dance crossover, the kind of song New Order would kill to make, a perfect mix of guitars and electronica, and the song itself was still yearning and beautiful. I bought it three days before “Screamadelica”, so the two records are always entwined in my head. “Missing the moon” got a fabulous write up in the NME, an unexpected surprise. By now I was on the Sarah Records mailing list and a postcard dropped through my letterbox advertising the single, their album “For Keeps” and their tour. They weren’t playing anywhere around South Wales, but I persuaded a friend in Basingstoke to see them in Reading and to buy me a t shirt.

But before that was the new album. “For Keeps” had specific memories attached to it, buying it from Cardiff and borrowing a Martin Amis novel from the library on the way home, so the first listen that October day was the soundtrack to the opening pages of “London Fields”. I soon stopped reading though.

Field Mice For Keeps 2

“For Keeps” was wonderful, with only the occasional mis-step – and frankly that’s the last song so you could always consider the penultimate song as the closer… Or was that just me? But when it’s good, “For Keeps” soars. “Star of David” has more heart stopping chord changes and actually dynamics which only a full band could generate – the move into the chorus is so dramatic and so perfect it hurts. “Coach Station Reunion” is the epitome of joy, jangling twelve strings, whoops of pleasure during the guitar solos. “Tilting At Windmills” is a dreamy drift of hazy melody and wordless harmonies. “Willow” was a lovely acoustic ballad whose words were almost too raw and too honest to listen to, uncomfortable truths.

“For keeps” received some good reviews, particularly from the Melody Maker who also ran a full page article on The Field Mice, so now I knew a lot more about them, how they were more influenced by the Factory aesthetic than the C86 aesthetic. Everything seemed to be going their way at last – good press, good sales, a nationwide tour….

My friend saw them in Reading and said they were brilliant, which was high praise from him as he was a Sub Pop nut – in the letter which accompanied the “Chocolate Love Sex” t shirt he sent me, he bemoaned Nirvana selling out and thought “Nevermind” wasn’t a patch on “Bleach”. There had been good live reviews too, and there was another new song issued on a compilation CD, the song was called “Other Galaxies” and was eleven minutes long, building from a gentle love song of comfort and hope into a huge juggernaut of distorted guitars and feedback. It was a glorious noise, and it was the last song the Field Mice would record.

I can remember the day as vividly as the day I read about The Smiths splitting up. It was a live review of the last gig of the tour in London, and it implied that this was truly the end of The Field Mice, love had brought them together and love had torn them apart. I couldn’t believe it – they seemed on the verge of success, maybe a move to a larger label, it just seemed to wrong. I didn’t know the full story until years later, the sleeve notes to “There and Back Again Lane” and “Where’d You Learn To Kiss That Way?” – he tensions in the group, the problems… It’s not for me to comment, to be honest. I just enjoyed the music.

It’s now 25 years since The Field Mice split up and I still consider their body of work to be pretty much perfect. The records and production are timeless, not limbed to the 80s / 90s crossover by baggy beats or dated instrumental touches. The songs stand up to repeated scrutiny, still reminding me of times past and unrequited loves that really I don’t care about any longer.

The Field Mice were incredibly productive, a large amount of music in a short time scale – and there’s outtakes on reissues and online if you look hard enough. Their influence is more far ranging than it seemed at the time – bands such as The Drums and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have been influenced by them and the Sarah Records style. There’s been a book and a documentary film on Sarah – something which would have been unthinkable twenty five years ago. And to me, The Field Mice are still one of the most important bands I’ve loved – for creating such gorgeous music, for the words which are poignant and true, for opening up the world of Sarah Records and indie pop to me… Those records will always be special to me, and I hope I’ve given some idea of why that is here. The majority of their back catalogue is on Spotify and is definitely worth hearing, the double CD “Where’d You Learn To Kiss That Way?” is great, but if you want a simple introduction to the Field Mice, here’s a dozen of my favourite songs by them.



Also here is the bandcamp link for a free download of the final Field Mice gig

 

Author: Rob Morgan

For further reading please check out our interview with Anne-Mari Davies of The Field Mice HERE

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob writes about music and other less important subjects at his blog A Goldfish Called Regret (agoldfishcalledregret.wordpress.com) and also creates podcasts for Goldfish Radio (https://m.mixcloud.com/robmorgan589).

He never achieved his ambition of making a Sarah Record.

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Thank you to Rob for sharing that and for his valuable contribution to the EIO40 community. If you would like to contribute to our Indie Encounters feature and share your indie moments please email us at indieover40@gmail.com or DM us on Twitter

 

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