Artifact – The Dawn Of Creation Records
Cherry Red CRCDBOX19
The third disc on the Creation Artifact – The Dawn of Creation Records 1983-85 is a mixed bag of assorted tracks, which cover a few singles, demos, album tracks and live performances, which were recorded at Alan McGee’s weekly club night The Living Room. This event was held in a tiny room above a pub in central London and it served an important purpose in that it gave a lot of unknown bands some much needed live exposure, and it provided McGee with the income to start Creation Records.
The money Alan McGee made from The Living Room was used to produce records by the bands that played at this weekly event. The studio time afforded to these bands in the fledgling years of Creation was pivotal as it gave them the time to hone and perfect their sound. Even more importantly these bands had a passionate music fan in McGee, who respected them as artists and always made sure that what profits were available was distributed evenly among the bands, and more importantly any surplus income was used to fund the release of
Alan McGee’s first band The Laughing Apple also featured Primal Scream guitarist Andrew Innes, and they recorded three singles for their own Autonomy label, including Participate/Wouldn’t You this single is featured here with McGee on bass. Participate in particular is a bruising slice of minimal post-punk, and you can’t help disagreeing with the self deprecating McGee, who felt prompted to start his own record label because he came to the conclusion that as a musician he was not particularly good.
Biff Bang Pow! reappear on disc three with an alternative version of Fifty Years of Fun and Waterbomb. The aforementioned is almost identical to the single version featured on disc 1 while Waterbomb is an unremarkable instrumental, which featured on their 1985 debut album Pass the Paintbrush Honey.
Not much is known about J.C Brouchard only that he is French and he is a fanatical fan of the brilliant Indie band Felt. His fanaticism is such that he even penned a (rather hard to find) book about the band called Felt, Ballad of the Fan in 2011. However, Brouchard did a bit of moonlighting as a recording artist in the 1980s, cut a single with Biff Bang Pow! in 1985. The swirling dreamy psychedelic inspired Someone Stole My Wheels/Sunny Days has all the jangly psych pop hallmarks that were associated with Creation acts at the time, and this somewhat melancholic single is a real hidden jangle pop gem and a welcome inclusion on this disc.
The Revolving Paint Dream also pops up again with an early version of the single In The Afternoon. This single is possibly sung by Andrew Innes, and although this is a pleasantly surreal recording it has the feel of a demo and does not capture the essence of the official single (on disc one of Artifact), which featured the beautifully breathy and fragile vocals of Christina Wanless.
The Bodines have an alternative version of God Bless featured here, which is identical to the original on disc two and you could question the merits of its inclusion here. Two tracks by The Jasmine Minks The Thirty Second Set Up and Somers Town, are taken from their 1984 debut One Two Three Four Five Six Seven, All Good Preachers Go To Heaven album. Both of these tracks blend the energy of post-punk and 1960s melodic pop, and The Jasmine Minks deliver these songs with their usual soulful verve and energy.
The Jesus & Mary Chain have a couple of demos included here and the first is an early version of their debut single Upside Down, which is a fuzz driven garage monster that almost captures the drenched in violence ear bleeding assault of the original single, which is featured on disc two of Artifact. However, the real surprise here is the demo of Just Like Honey, which is arguably better than the original version of the song that opens their 1985 debut album Pyschocandy. This version of Just Like Honey is a tambourine and acoustically driven track, with just a hint of electric guitar coming in at the midway point of the song. To describe a song by The Jesus & Mary Chain in their 1984-85 period as fragile and gentle is a bit of an anomaly, but that is exactly what this song is, and it is quite brilliant and could have been released as a single in its own right.
The Membranes formed in 1977 and have released a slew of singles and albums spanning an almost 40-year career. They recorded one album The Gift of Life on Creation in 1985 and two tracks from this album are included here. I Am Fish Eye and Gift of Life are delivered with sledgehammer abandon and are a discordant blend of experimental noise and distortion. How many people can claim to have heard of The Membranes? It seems remarkable that this band are not more well-known, but as these two tracks demonstrate The Membranes were very influential and this influence surely must have rubbed off on Sonic Youth, and one listen to their albums Goo and Daydream Nation may just clarify
The very first album release on Creation Records was Alive In The Living Room. This album consisted of live recordings between 1983 and 1984 and these tracks, including a few bonus live tracks are also included on this disc. The first thing that will strike the listener is the poor sound quality of the recordings. Apparently members of the audience were roped in to help with these live recordings, and they were given hand-held recorders to capture the whole live experience of the bands who played at The Living Room.
The poor sound quality also highlights another problem and that is with the bands themselves. Many of them seem to be willfully incompetent live and the shambolic mess of these live gigs is epitomized by The Legend (AKA Jerry Thackray) in particular, who seems to take a delightful glee in his own incompetence as a musician, when he ironically announces to the audience that he will play Arrogant Bastards slow because he does not know any chords.
However, a shambolic live performance can still be an absolutely powerful and defining moment for the band and audience. So the live tracks featured here are not total disasters, and the stand out moments are The Jasmine Minks cover of the Love Garage-Punk classic 7 & 7 is, and The Television Personalities A Picture of Dorian Gray. There is a charm in the amateurish so-called musicianship to some of these live recordings, and if you are a fan of shambolic pop then you will appreciate these recordings, but will no doubt be put off by the poor sound quality, which make them sound nothing more than unofficial bootleg releases.
Stayed tuned for the final installment of the Creation Artifact series as we take a closer look at discs 4 and 5. BUY HERE!