In this regular feature we celebrate that all important opening track on a debut album, because for some it may have been the first song they ever heard from that artist.
In this issue will our resident feature curator John Hartley be partial to a bit of this after casting his fishes eyes over……
Artist: New Fast Automatic Daffodils
Track: Get Better
As is quite often the case, the support band is a mere periphery to the main act, and it was exactly the case in summer 1989 when this young, eager and enthusiastic James fan sighed his way through the set by up-and-coming-Manchester-band New Fast Automatic Daffodils. I quite wanted to love them, but their angular, sparse sound, heavy in bass and percussion didn’t really work for me. So I left my interest there.
Two years later I could be found scouring the racks of Fenham Library’s cassette collection in Newcastle, borrowing ‘Body Exit Mind’ alongside a much-renewed and never-completed hardback copy of ‘War and Peace’. Here was an album that made sense to me, and I listened to it considerably. A further two years on and my friend and bandmate introduced me to a promotional copy of ‘Love It All’; in some parts better, in others inferior to its predecessor.
To this date, however, I have never given ‘Pigeonhole’, the debut album by New Fast Automatic Daffodils, much attention. I borrowed a copy from my brother-in-law and didn’t listen to it. I found it on Spotify and didn’t listen to it. Maybe it’s the cover artwork, which so often persuades me to listen rather than the other way round, or maybe it’s the recollection of the heat-induced impatience before the James gig. Who knows?
Opening track ‘Get Better’ is pretty much what we would come to love and expect from New FADS, as they would come to be known. It starts off sounding like warped vinyl, which would have fooled me if I wasn’t listening digitally. A pulsating rhythm punctuated by the band’s trademark percussion leads us into the flat-vowelled vocal delivery of Andy Spearpoint before an angry guitar riff announces its arrival. There really isn’t anything in this opening track that justifies my earlier dismissiveness. The album made the UK Top 50, which is a creditable achievement, especially given the tendency of the music press to lump the band in with the ‘Madchester scene’ when their sound and style couldn’t have been much further away.
As first track on a first album, ‘Get Better’ certainly marks a clear statement of intent; the sound and style of this changes little over the course of the band’s three albums. If you like this, then definitely explore their later works. Me, I’m exploring backwards now!
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
What first track on whose first album will John Hartley review next time?