Artifact, Part 2 – Longjohn Reviews

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Creation -Artifact

Artifact – The Dawn Of Creation Records

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The second disc on Artifact – The Dawn of Creation Records 1983 – 85 contains the rest of the singles from this period, and a fitting way to kick off this disc is to unleash the full throttle ear bleeding assault of crude noise makers The Jesus & Mary Chain. The East Kilbride upstarts released just the one single on Creation Records, and what an explosive debut this record was. Upside Down and its B-side, Syd Barrett’s darkly satirical Vegetable Man was the blue print for the industrial white noise fest of J&MC seminal Pyschocandy album.

The Jesus & Mary Chain became one of the most divisive and controversial bands of the 1980s. Their live appearances were notoriously shambolic, and the band played with wrecked instruments, including a bass with just 2 strings and a drum kit that contained only 2 snare drums. This minimalist approach and seemingly total disregard for their craft was deceiving as brothers Jim and William Reid were music obsessives and were enthralled to 1960s pop in the shape of Phil Spector’s girl groups and The Beach Boys.

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The Jesus & Mary Chain seemed to blend the cacophonous noise of the Velvet Underground’s White Light, White Heat and Sister Ray with songs that appeared to be influenced by 1960s Brill Building pop. Upside Down is a scary, brooding, violent mess of a song and it could be argued that this record was single-handedly one of the biggest influence on the nascent Shoe Gaze scene.

Their cover of Vegetable Man is incredible and it would be fair to say that Syd Barrett’s songs were too precious, disturbingly beautiful and uniquely him that no one should go anywhere near them. However, The Jesus & Mary Chain capture the essence of Vegetable Man and convincingly put their own musically chaotic stamp on this track, without making it appear like a pale imitation of
the original.

The absurdly named Meat Whiplash also came from East Kilbride and they released only one single on Creation Records in September 1985. They can claim some notoriety for being the opening act at the infamous North London Polytechnic gig headlined by The Jesus & Mary Chain, in which Meat Whiplash guitarist Stephen McLean threw a glass bottle in to the crowd, which proved to be the catalyst for a riot. The single Don’t Slip Up and its B-side Here It Comes are both fuzz guitar wig outs, with vocals seemingly recorded in the far distance to the point of being inaudible. Although this single owes something of an obvious debt to the Jesus & Mary Chain, it was still distinctive enough to earn a number 3 place on the indie charts, where it spent an incredible 13 weeks.

Taking their name from an Enid Blyton children’s novel, Five Go Down To The Sea recorded a 12” single at the tail end of 1985 featuring Singing In Braille, Aunt Nelly and Silk Brain Worm Women. These three tracks are unique in that they sound like nothing else on disc 2 of Artifact, and Five Go Down To The Sea obviously did not care about commercial success and seemed happy to make a discordant induced noise with crunching guitar riffs, pounding drums and nonsensical lyrics, which suggest that Captain Beefheart may have been an influence on this group.

Derbyshire four piece The Bodines recorded just three singles for Creation Records and featured here is the 1985 single God Bless/Paradise. This particular single has an Echo and the Bunnymen feel with its choppy guitar sound and high tempo, which was almost typical of that 1980s indie guitar sound and this particular single it could be argued was a direct influence on the nascent jangle pop scene, in which The Bodines were an integral part of as their subsequent single Therese featured on the NME’s influential C86 cassette.

Melbourne band The Moodists only made a fleeting appearance on Creation, and included here is the 12” EP Justice and Money Too; You’ve Got Your Story and Take Us All Home. The Moodists already had 2 albums under their belt prior to cutting this EP with Creation, and apparently the EP was recorded in a day and it is perhaps this haste, which makes this record a little unremarkable and hard to distinguish from other more well-known Creation acts on this disc like the The Bodines and The Jasmine Minks.

Biff, Bang, Pow, The Jasmine Minks, The Loft and The Pastels all make a reappearance on disc 2, and normal service is resumed as the jangle maestros all pitch in with shambling melodic pop that is almost typical of what you would except from bands signed to Creation Records in this period. Love & Hate by Biff, Bang, Pow yet again doffs its jingle jangle cap to 1960s British Psychedelia and What’s Happening/Black & Blue by The Jasmine Minks are both sung with plenty of soul, and this particular single has a harder edge and a sense of post punk urgency that still sounds fresh as a daisy 30 years after it was
originally recorded.

It is still quite unfathomable why The Loft were not more well-known and why they remain nothing more than a cult phenomenon to rabid Indie music fans. Their final recordings for Creation include Up The Hill & Down The Slope, Your Door Shines Like Gold and Lonely Street. The sublime Up The Hill & Down The Slope climbed to the top of the Indie charts in 1985; and it is this particular song that should have been the catalyst for The Loft to go on to greater commercial success. But this never happened and the band imploded in spectacular fashion onstage at the Hammersmith Palais in 1985, and front man Pete Astor eventually went on to form The Weather Prophets.

Yet again it is The Pastels who taste the sweetest as their final single on Creation demonstrates. I’m Alright With You, Couldn’t Care Less and What It’s Worth are delivered in that deceptively lazy manner, with hushed vocals and wry humorous lyrics. The Pastels lacked any kind of clichéd rock n roll machismo and their influence is subtle but far-reaching. They quietly blazed a trail throughout the 1980s Indie guitar scene and they are remarkably into their 34th year and despite only five album releases in this period they are still a relevant force to be reckoned with. One listen to I’m Alright With You, (this version being superior to the latter album version) will hopefully show the listener why the band are still revered by many, including their more celebrated Glaswegian counterparts Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura.

There is probably nothing more to say about post 1990 Primal Scream, and their success has rendered them part of the rock n roll aristocracy whether they like it or not. Their emphatic fusion of dance and rock n roll from Screamadelica to their latest album More Light has put them in a rare position of still being somewhat relevant when virtually all of their 1980s peers have either disappeared or are happy to continue rolling out the yawn inducing but lucrative greatest hits tours.

It would be fair to say that pre 1990 Primal Scream output is virtually unknown, however, they did create such lovely, gentle dreamy jangle pop that deserves more consideration. All Fall Down/It Happens was issued in 1985 and these tracks show the first incarnation of Primal Scream in thrall to 1960s West Coast pop and psych. Bobby Gillespie’s vocals sound sweet and fragile and the hazy sunshine pop of these tracks serves as a more than welcome antidote to the rumbustious shenanigans of some of the other artists on disc two of Artifact.

Keep your eyes peeled Indie boppers for part three of the Artifact story coming your way soon. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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