Category Archives: indie music

Indie shimmers – The Sundays ‘Can’t Be Sure’ (1989)

A quintessential Indie track, with a quintessential English rose vocal, courtesy of Harriet Wheeler. Released in the deep dark winter of 1989, this track was a shard of piercing white light, flooding indie student bedsits with summer warmth and dreamy hazy sunshine. *Sigh* Although it managed a respectable #45 in the UK charts (we were still fighting the Indie Wars then, when getting The Wonderstuff to no.36 in the charts was an achievement), it deserved to be no.1, though it did make no.1 in John Peels festive fifty of that year, which is much more of an achievement anyway.

She just had the best voice. This single is near perfect.

Link to Sundays video for ‘Can’t Be Sure’

The Sundays wiki entry;

Lyrics to ‘Can’t Be Sure’

give me a story and give me a bed
give me possessions
oh love luck and money they go to my head like wildfire
it’s good to have something to live for you’ll find
live for tomorrow
live for a job and a perfect behind, high time
England my country the home of the free, such miserable weather
but England’s as happy as England can be
why cry

and did you know desire’s a terrible thing
the worst that I could find
and did you know desire’s a terrible thing
but I rely on mine, a-ah

England my country the home of the free, such miserable weather
but England’s as happy as England can be
why cry

and did you know desire’s a terrible thing
the worst that I could find
and did you know desire’s a terrible thing
but I rely on mine
did you know desire’s a terrible thing
it makes the world go blind
but if desire, desire’s a terrible thing
you know that I really don’t mind

and it’s my life
and though I can’t be sure what I want any more
it will come to me later
well it’s my life…. and it’s my life
and though I can’t be sure if I want any more
it will come to me later… ah, yeah

Astonishing Transformations!! The Soup Dragons – twee to leather in 3 years (1989)

The Soup Dragons. Scottish band. Started out as C86 twee with a bit of a Buzzcocks edge to them, and moved on to the more adventurous garage sound of ‘Just Cant Take No More’. From there, they gave us the mixed blessings of the ‘Kingdom Chairs’ album, to emerge in 1989 as the snarling, strutting fusion of The Stooges, Leather, New York Dolls and Psychedelic imagery that produced 2 fantastic singles – ‘Backwards Dog’ and ‘Crotch Deep Trash’ – that never troubled the UK pop charts (unlike some of their previous output which grazed the top 100 and in 2 instances made the top 75 in the UK).

I guess – if you were to try and grasp for a metaphor – you could liken the Soup Dragons change in direction to the moment when Sandy Olsen, in ‘Grease‘, evolves from this Preppy All-American cookie-cutter Princess into the cigarette smoking, Leather Clad and High Heels trail of SEX who captivates the High School Leader of the Pack.

Anyway – to the singles!

The video for ‘Backwards Dog’ is a bit of fun – its here in all its garage punk and acid glory!!

and here are the lyrics;

Street walking little speed machine
Backwards into forwards into gasoline
Motor car driving to my brain
Backwards dog is coming just to hit me with the chain

I said i’ve gone dog crazy
Street machine running up my back

Everywhere i go i’m always ready for attack
Sweet blood shooting down my veins
Backwards dog is coming just to hit me with the chain

You get the feeling there is more than a nod towards Iggy and the Stooges with the type of lyrics that Sean Dickson, the singer and lyricist, was producing. The 12 inch version of ‘Backwards Dog’ is a bit of a triumph, as alongside the JAMC / Stooges stomper that is ‘Backwards Dog’, are a couple more head down rockers (‘Burn Out’ / ‘Kill Kill Kill Me’) and the magnificence of ‘SuperCherry’. One of the best things they did, and one of the more inspired pieces of music produced in that year, ‘SuperCherry’ seems to encapsulate the sleazy, liberated, retro rock vibe they were obviously trying to project. Set over a wash of psychedelic / garage / acid guitars, a recording of some groupies talk frankly about their agendas and experiences as groupies. It is a magnificent statement of intent from The Soup Dragons – as sleazy and drug induced as they wanted it to be, an altered-state track.

The Full track listing of the ‘Backwards Dog’ 12″ EP (released Summer 1989)

A Side 1 – Backwards Dog
B Side 1 – SuperCherry
B Side 2 – Burn Out
B Side 3 – Kill Kill Kill Me

The follow up to ‘Backwards Dog’ goes even further in the pursuit of distilling that Stooges sound into something unique to the Soup Dragons. With ‘Crotch Deep Trash’ and the B Side ‘You Can Fly’ they achieve a sound that glories in filthy rock guitars and in the lyrics, celebrates every outre rock cliche in an orgy of indulgence. “Religious Superstar” indeed. Take a look at the lyrics;

As I drive to heaven will I drive to you
As my knife goes rushing in
I will just take you as far as I can

As I talk to the devil will I talk to you
As my knife goes rushing in
I will just take you as far as I can

I’m a religious superstar
And I ride around in
Crotch deep trash
And my heaven could go missing
As I ride around in
Crotch deep trash

Listen to a preview of ‘Crotch Deep Trash’ here at last fm

‘You Can Fly’ is a blood relative of ‘Crotch Deep Trash’ – squalling guitars, crunchy guitars, LOUD guitars and a lyric, that as the title suggests, has elements of drug-induced euphoria /invincibility.

The Soup Dragons dalliance with that pure garage-acid-nuggets-stooges spirit ended within a year as they were caught up in the euphoria of the emerging ‘baggy‘ / ‘madchester‘ scene. They would go on to get a deserved top 10 hit in the summer of 1990 with a cover of The Rolling Stones ‘I’m Free’, which was nearly as euphoric as the single version of ‘Come Together’ by their Scottish counterparts Primal Scream. In a neat kind of Scottish symmetry, both of these amazing singles were in the top 40 at the same time in August 1990.


Best ever spring singles No.2 – The Boo Radleys ‘Wake Up Boo!’ (1995)

I went through a break up with a girl in the spring of 1995. The day after it happened, I heard this track for the first time, and things were (almost) better again. As uplifting as the best Soul music can be, this stomper got into the charts in March 1995, and eventually got as high as number 9. It was the Boo Radleys finest hour, and as close as any British white indie band from Cheshire (or anywhere else) ever got to perfecting that beating rhythm that propelled the best Northern Soul and Motown tracks. The lyrics merely re-emphasise the beauty in the stirring music, shouting at you ‘isn’t it great to be alive???’;

Wake up it’s a beautiful morning
Feel the sun shining for your eyes
Wake up it’s so beautiful
For what could be the very last time

The Boo Radleys very own Northern Soul anthem still sounds fresh because it is a classic pop song, its exuberance and infectious rhythm never outstaying its welcome.

The Boo Radleys at Wikipedia

BBC Interview with Martin Carr of the Boo Radleys

Review of ‘Wake Up!’, the album from whence the single came

The lyrics for ‘Wake Up Boo!’

Indie Hits of the Eighties – from Spizzenergi to Electronic, and Bob!!

The May edition of Mojo has arrived. I dont get the same excitement from receiving it that I did a couple of years ago, but that is probably more to do with me than the quality of Mojo, which is generally very good. It’s just that now I get more of a buzz from holding the latest issues of ‘Walking Dead’ or ‘Infinite Horizon’ in my hands.

Anyway, Mojo can still produce fantastic issues full of articles that I want to read and this month is one of them – there is a big article on The Specials and The Black Keys, both well written, informative and great photos. In the ‘Ask Fred’ section, where there is a regular section on music resources on the internet, a short piece can send you into Indie raptures. That is, if you were an Indie fan between 1980 and 1989, then you really should check this out;

it is the online version of a book that Cherry Red publishes. Compiled by the late Barry Lazell, this is an exhaustive but thoroughly enjoyable resource cataloguing the Indie hits between 1980 and 1989. To clarify, this was at a time when the Indie charts were a seperate entity, detailing the burgeoning ‘DIY’ scene that incoporated such disparate talents as The Smiths, Dead Kennedys, Toyah & Half Man Half Biscuit (and so many more). For example, here is the first and last Indie number ones of the 1980s;

Where’s Captain Kirk? – Spizzenergi

Getting Away With It – Electronic

There’s an A-Z section covering all the bands whoever had an entry in the charts, and various stats lists (artists with most weeks at no.1, longest chart runs by albums).

As a child I would read Smash Hits (my first issue had David Sylvian on the cover, posing in a raincoat with a brolly). In Smash Hits they had the Indie top 10, and the summer of 1981 had such exotic entries as ‘Neu Smell’ by Flux Of Pink Indians. I would try to impress my primary school companions with this knowledge, but they were not impressed. Maybe I can try the same trick with my work colleagues now I have this resource available online? If nothing else, it will probably jog my memory on some of the stuff I have forgtten about after I embraced Indie (from about 1986 onwards). For example, Bands like Bob;

London-based guitar-pop quartet noted for their sharp songwriting, jointly fronted by vocalist/guitarists Richard Blackborow and Simon Armstrong, along with Jem Morris (bass) and Dean Leggett (drums).
KIRSTY (Sombrero OMBRER 2) (12″ only) 17 2 11/6/88
ESMERELDA BROOKLYN (House Of Teeth HOT 003) 12 2 28/10/89


You see, I have learned something already – the only single I have by Bob is called ‘Convenience’, and it obviously never made the charts. That is an injustice that I doubt we can fix with an online petition.


Cherry Red Records

Mojo Magazine

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