Other Things To Do

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Monday 23 April 2007

Bridewell Taxis

Ah Manchester, you gave us baggy trousers, ecstacy and the Hacienda. Manchester, home of grown men with pudding bowl haircuts and 35 inch flares. Manchester: Moss Side murders, Hulme squatter and Tony Wilson.

They might have had all that, but we were from Yorkshire and any sane person knew in their heart of hearts that we were better. Let's be really honest here The Wedding Present were (and indeed still are) far better than The Smiths. Noone does angst-ridden misery quite like a man from Leeds. Morrissey? trying too hard, a bit wet. No one can strangle his vocals quite like David Gedge.

And as for the Happy Mondays? Where did they play their mega-gig to end all mega-gigs? Elland Road. Leeds. Home of the Bridewell Taxis.

In the first coming of the city on the right side of the Pennines, the Bridewell Taxis were the cool band, the local lads made good, the scruffy oiks who took music by the scruff of the neck and showed those blood Lancastrians how to do it.

Ready Steady Go says it far more eloquently than I can right here:

"Local legends the Bridewell Taxis were carrying the torch for the city at the time of the Madchester scene. Their impact and success was more remarkable than that of our current crop of leading lights because back then, in 1989, the media was no way near as powerful as it is today.

Lesser bands today are rewarded with far more media exposure than most successful bands did back in the early 90s.

Even in retrospect their legacy should be applauded. Even if they didn't conquer the world they did become the most successful band Leeds has ever produced prior to recent success of the Kaiser Chiefs. Back in the day, this band was the cool band to name drop."

A lovely bit of nostalgia here, the band's second EP and a bit of vinyl that could set you back all of £2 on eBay now, a bit of vinyl that probably cost me £3 from Big Tree Records in Huddersfield - money I should have been spending on cheap bitter. That's 3 quid I'll never see again. Unless they come again and make me a millionaire...

The Bridewell Taxis - Give in

I don't know why I'm flying the flag for Leeds, I'm from Huddersfield. We had some of the best new-wave of new-wave punk in the country; our 'Madchester' bands - and if I can find my white label HX2 12 inch then you'll hear what we had to offer (here it is!), and the Popcorn Groove, they were a band that should have made it - were just swamped.

Leeds? So much to answer for...

Sunday 22 April 2007

Sultans of Ping

Formed in Ireland in 1988, the Sultans of Ping leapt to public consciousness with their catchy singalong pop masterpiece "Where's me Jumper?" - a searing tale of sartorial loss at a disco. Something we can all relate to.

Signing to Epic Records the band almost went from strength to strength and could have been contenders. They recorded with Japanese funsters Shonen Knife, did sessions for John Peel and toured extensively. Although for some reason I'll always associate them with Frank Sidebottom.

As with so many of our early 90s favourites they mae a brief comeback in 2005 and played a number of gigs with Jim Bob from Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.

To avoid being overly cliched, this is the Sultans' second single, "Stupid Kid". Still as catchy and energetic, still as funny as Where's me jumper. An indie pop classic.

Sultans of Ping FC - Stupid Kid

Wednesday 18 April 2007

Power of Dreams

Once upon a time there was an Irish band called Power of Dreams; in 1989 they released a debut EP that had all the majors fighting for their signatures. Caught up in the early 90s indie tidal wave they were feted as the next big things.

They signed a megabucks deal and toured worldwide to rave reviews. Their classic indie-stylings earning rave reviews. They were, along with many other indie bands, "big in Japan".

Alas their fame would not last and in 1994 the band split. Members went their separate ways - some to release solo material, one to play with the Sultans of Ping - of whom more later.

They're making a comeback now. I'mnot sure I hold with all these old bands coming back for one last money-making scam, but there we go. The power of the 35-year-old man's disposable income is what it is.

So here we are; Power of Dreams - 100 Ways to Kill a Love.

Not much of an entry, but it'll do for now.

Monday 9 April 2007


Ahhh, Ride. The very peak of early 90s shoegazing. Discovered by Creation Records svengali Alan McGee supporting the Soup Dragons (I'll have to do them as well, I think I've still got a rare early tape somewhere) and famed for their soaring feedback and rhythm guitar.

Despite never really gaining the fame and fortune that they deserved, Ride put out three EPs: "Ride", "Play" and "Fall" in 1990 that set the marker for the swooping indie pop guitar that bands would follow - with varying successes - for the next few years. While Madchester was all electric dance and ecstacy; shoegazing kept the indie kids dancing aimlessy in circles while wearing hoopy jumpers and felling slightly more happy with life than the poor saps who were still in love with Morrissey.

They were great. My mate Si espoused their wonders after a gig at the Duchess of York in Leeds; they made us all want to buy wah-wah pedals and learn to break amps; I went out with a girl who loved them; ahhh, the 90s.

In 1995 Ride departed; Mark Gardener went off to join Oasis and we all got our haircut, Radio 1 destroyed our ears with Celine Dion and Oasis and Blur fought out a number one with two frankly dull records.

So, Taste. Not the earliest of vinyl, probably not their best record either, but one I bought on one-sided 7 inch "radio play" vinyl at a record fair. Hell, I probably thought they'd go on forever and this bit of plastic would make me rich. Like so many others, it never did and never will; unless in the post-oil apocalyptic world people are fighting for old plastic.

Here it is Taste, by Ride, from the Fall EP

Friday 6 April 2007


For a band that were hotly tipped and loved in the early 90s and almost broke into America at the height of indie pop, Kingmaker soon fell from the heights of fame. Now sadly largely forgotten, the band rode the crest of the wave from 1991 to 1995 and could have been big. Now, if they're here it's because the ony way you'll hear them is if you spend £3 on ebay and hope for the best.

The best biography you'll stumble across in the internet and the only real site written by a real fan is:

"Formed in 1990 in Hull, North Humberside, England. Disbanded in 1995.

Teenage schoolmates in Hull, England, Loz Hardy (guitar/vocal) and Myles Howell (bass) placed a want-ad for a drummer and met John Andrew. The rocking Brit-poppers began playing and touring together, gradually picking up a following around Great Britain. After signing a record deal, the band released Eat Yourself Whole, later landing an American deal with Chrysalis. Sleepwalking, their sophomore album, was released in 1993. The group called it quits after the 1995 release of Best Possible Taste, their commercially disappointing third album."

Wikipedia says that in 1991 "With a fan following building up, and lyrical austerity in their melodic music, they were tipped by some as the "next big thing"; but by 1995 "...despite their promising debut, the band rapidly fell out of favour. Paul Heaton of local stars The Beautiful South heavily criticised them as being middle class pretenders, and the rot set in thereafter."

We do know that Loz Hardy had a nervous breakdown before recovering and writing songs with and for Elastica (who are playing on the radio as I type this, so it appears that they're remembered at least) after the band were royally screwed over by their record company.

Anyway. To remember Kingmaker in all their scratchy vinyl glory, here's Eat Yourself Whole, from the Killjoy Was Here EP from 1991. A true classic which, until I started rummaging around in the cupboard, I'd forgotten how good it was. Ahh, the happy memories of jumping around in the Cellar Bar at Manchester University... whole, whole, Eat yourself whole...

Kingmaker - Eat Yourself Whole.

[Update, 21st June 2007] I had to drive 250-odd miles today for work, so to alleviate the boredom I had my mp3 player with me and was listening to the miscellaneous bits and bobs I've collected. One of them was the aforementioned Eat Yourself Whole and I'll be honest, I listened to it five times in a row it's that good.

I'd almost go so far as to say it's my new favourite indie pop song.