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Saturday 28 February 2009


Ok, so more cleaning up of the notes and forgotten bits today with Po!, a lovely jingly-jangly band who plied their trade around Leicester in the late 80s and early 90s; prime indie pop!

It's also time for "Return of the Flexi Disk". Hurray!

So, formed in 1987 by American artist Ruth Miller and featuring Julian Glover (latterly Mary Mills) on bass and Mark Fuccio (later replaced by Jan Frazer) on drums, the band were an opportunity for Miller to write and record songs that would, apparently, drive away and abusive boyfriend.

Initially the band were a threepiece that later in their career swapped between being all female and part male, then expanded to a five- or six-piece towards the end of their career.

The band deatured heavily on what appears to be called the "Leicestershire fanzine scene", which is where the 'Hop-Scotch in the Snow EP' featured here saw its release - on long forgotten fanzine Samantha which made a special feature of finding new bands' demos and releasing them as cover flexis.

The band released a good lot of singles and albums, recorded a Peel Session and toured extensively; releasing and playing some pretty good indie that I'm glad I stumbled upon when looking for something else!

There's a really nice site here that will tell you everything you need to know, the wiki page as all the bits and bobs as usual, and your TweeNet page will give you the full discography.

This is Po! - Appleseed Alley, which is track 2 on the EP. Remember kids, if you swallow an apple pip, a tree will grow out of your mouth.


Thursday 19 February 2009

Land of Barbara

When I was clearing up the mess of notes I've got for this place, I remembered that I'd been pointed towards Land of Barbara by Mark from The Nilon Bombers way back when and I'd forgotten that they're rather good; there's a sort of Flowered Up vibe about the keyboards and cowbells, coupled with something I can't quite put my finger on, but still makes for a nice bit of indie-dance-rock.

We're a bit sparse on information about the band unfortunately, but some good internetting provides us with the knowledge that the band released at least three singles; "Silence is the Virtue" in 1992, "Alcohol" in 1993 and the featured-below "Kid Whiskey/Limited" double A-side in 1994 and I had a brief email conversation with Martin from the band last year - it's taken a while to get round to doing this - where he suggested they had loads of unreleased stuff, recorded at Toe Rag Studios, that he'd like to get released at some point.

The band played the Phoenix Festival in 1994 and had previously been scheduled to record a session of Mark Radcliffe's legendary Radio 5 programme "Hit the North" in 1993 but "their van broke down on the way to the session and they couldn't make it so Wonky Alice came in at very short notice and did a session instead".

But that's about it. The band members listed on the 7" are Martin Yelswel (vocals, guitar, flageolet), Tom King (guitar and backing vocals), Jon Skin (bass), Dr NJ Tudman (organs, grunts) and John Clube (drums); so there we go and here you go, it's Land of Barbara - Kid Whiskey. Enjoy.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

The Weeds

So, for a long time I had a note in my little indie notebook that said "The Weeds - 1986, one single, too early?"; which to be honest, when I was reading through in November to check I'd not missed anything important, I was still thinking it was. Granted pretty much everything on here is a direct descendent of the NME's C86 tape - and some bands were even featured on it - but I wasn't sure whether to plumb the depths of the early 80s, after all, I'd started doing this page to feature early 90s stuff.

I was still umming and ahhing as the only thing a quick google found was pretty much taken direct from Barry Lazell's "Indie Hits: The Complete UK Singles and Album Independent Charts, 1980-89" book (which I've used every now and again for background) and tells us that the band were a "Manchester trio fronted by Andrew Berry, whose career was notably short - 'China Doll' was their debut single and they had split up before it had even been released". So I'd shelved the idea.

Then a few weeks back I was flicking through Dave Simpson's book "The Fallen" - which is a great read - and there, in black and white on page 218 was the line "Simon Wolstencroft was playing in a band called The Weeds and they'd supported The Fall...Smith recruited him [after checking out the opening act]".

Wait, hang on, Simon Wolstencroft, one of The Fall's longest serving drummers, was in The Weeds? The same The Weeds? Surely not..?

Well, a quick bit of investigative journalism later there it was; on the genuine "official" Fall website: "Simon Wolstencroft: Jun 1986-Aug 1997 drums: Member of The Patrol which became The Stone Roses. Also in The Colourfield for a short while and was the drummer in a band called The Weeds (which included Andrew Berry on vocals). Considered joining an early version of The Smiths but wasn't impressed by Morrissey. After leaving The Fall, played with Ian Brown on the Golden Greats album". Fuck me.

So what of Andrew Berry then? The 'Indie Hits' book seems to think he's the only band member who warrants a mention and he gets a name check on The Fall site. Now I had a couple of names and a bit more guff to look for, it only bloody turns out that Berry is Manchester royalty. He was only Johnny Marr's "best mate" and shared a flat with with the soon-to-be Smiths guitar botherer. That link is from an Uncut magazine article and is well worth a read if you can get past the lack of formatting. Oh, and even better, the Cerysmatic Factory site - home to everything you'll ever want to know about Factory Records, tells us that Berry was "a resident DJ at the pre-house Haçienda [and] set up a Factory Records hairdressing salon - Swing (FAC 98) - in the Haçienda's dressing room". That's right, one of the most influential record labels ever had a hairdresser. Oh, and the band supported the Happy Mondays.

So, finally, apart from the obvious fourth lady member you'll see on the cover above and hear doing backing vocals and "woohoo"s on the link below - goodness knows who she is, (anyone?), the writing credit on the 7" is Berry/Arrojo. Who is Arrojo?

Cerysmatic Factory provides another hint: "Vidal hairdressers were no strangers to certain nights at The Hacienda, but regulars may recall one in particular: Nick Arrojo was a popular attendee and would occasionally turn DJ alongside Pickering and Sasha". Wait, what the fuck?

Now, I've no idea whether that's the same "Arrojo", but he's a Haçienda regular and knows a bit about a short back and sides, it's got to be him surely?

So enough of investigative journalism (although if I ever write a book about this place, then this stuff is going in Chapter 1), this is The Weeds - China Doll, what a bit of history! Oh, and just to complete the Manchester-royalty of it all, the 7" was released on Marc Riley's In Tape label. Also latterly home to Frank Sidebottom. You know it is, it really is...

Oh and if you'd like me to go back in time, let me know.

Monday 2 February 2009


I'm afraid I've not got any snow-related pop to hand, so in the meantime, how about some Chapterhouse?

Sneaking in (and often lumped in) with the shoegazing boys, Chapterhouse were much more than just another raggle taggle bunch of floppy-haired chaps, these Reading-based boys knew how to put together a swooping bit of indie dance-cum-pop that is vaguely reminiscent of the mid-90s MegaDog-style world dance nonsense that I'll admit I had a brief flirtation with; but again, they're much more than that.

As usual there's a wikipedia page but there's actually a dearth of fansites about, which is pretty unusual for a band that made a fair impact in their time. But the background is that half a dozen fellas from Reading put together a band and, instead of just banging out a demo tape and disappearing, toured extensivly with such luminaries as Spaceman 3 until they were good enough to release records - not something you could really imagine happening these days!

Most of the band's releases came out in 1990 and 1991, but they hung around until 1993 at least, still touring, still putting out a bit here and there, then finally splitting and shuffling off to join other bands. Later on Cherry Red re-released some of their stuff and there was a brief reformation at the 2008 Truck Festival.

So, how would you like to hear Chapterhouse - She's a Vision? I thought as much.

And you can buy the reissued debut album Whirlpoolhere, should you so wish.