Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The legendary C86 cassette

When you think of 'indie' what do you think of? Anything that involves guitars? Or, like me, do you think of it as short-hand for independent, an attitude as much as a sound, perhaps even more so.

The NME C86 cassette is so-called, because it came out in 1986, on cassette (too many tracks for flexi-discs and not many people in 1986 had CD players) and was compiled by the NME, who did many cassettes in those days, and was seen as a successor to C81. For some, indie is a term of abuse, but the twenty-two tracks are diverse in their approach, and by no means all twee, though C81 was definitely even more diverse.

For more on the C86 tape, I suggest you try the wikipedia entry and the always excellent indie-mp3website entry here, as well as this post on the tangents website by Alistair Fitchett.

Alas, I don't own the original cassette, but thanks to links managed to get the mp3s for it (cannot remember which blog/site so apologies, but thank you!)

The full tracklisting for the C86 compilation was:

Side one

Primal Scream - Velocity Girl
The Mighty Lemon Drops - Happy Head
The Soup Dragons - Pleasantly Surprised
The Wolfhounds - Feeling So Strange Again
The Bodines - Therese
Mighty Mighty - Law
Stump - Buffalo
Bogshed - Run To The Temple
A Witness - Sharpened Sticks
The Pastels - Breaking Lines
Age of Chance - From Now On, This Will Be Your God

Side two

The Shop Assistants - It's Up To You
Close Lobsters - Firestation Towers
Miaow - Sport Most Royal
Half Man Half Biscuit - I Hate Nerys Hughes (From The Heart)
The Servants - Transparent
The Mackenzies - Big Jim (There's no pubs in Heaven)
bIG fLAME - New Way (Quick Wash And Brush Up With Liberation Theology)
We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It - Console Me
McCarthy - Celestial City
The Shrubs - Bullfighter's Bones
The Wedding Present - This Boy Can Wait (A Bit Longer!)

In 2008, four of the bands are still together, and I'm proud (especially given that when this tape came out I was unaware of its existence, being only nine) that I have seen all four of: Primal Scream, the Pastels, the Wedding Present, and Half Man Half Biscuit. Some of the other ands disappeared not long after, some went on to commercial success for a time (the name-shortened Fuzzbox, The Soup Dragons) and of course McCarthy's Tim Gane formed Stereolab.

As far as I, and many other folk out there are concerned, this is a piece of essential rock history, recognising when many facets of the underground came together. Of course things have changed in twenty years, daytime radio is far more open to new sounds, and underground bands may be more likely to be written about on blogs than paper fanzines. But it's appalling that a document as important as this in rock history is not available, nor many of its songs (and the same can be said for the aforementioned C81), and that's why I'm posting this.

...And if anyone out there can help me do a post on the C81 tape (which I do own, but
haven't yet figured out how to digitise) then the email address is at the top.

For the Peel fans out there, many of the bands made appearances either before, during or after 1986, the following three songs from the C86 cassette made the 1986 Festive Fifty:

Primal Scream -'Velocity Girl.' (1986 Festive Fifty no.4)

Wedding Present -'This Boy Can wait.' (1986 Festive Fifty no.18)

Bodines -'Therese.' (1986 Festive Fifty no.19)

However, if you're really interested to see what made the 1986 Festive Fifty follow this link.

Hope you enjoy it! (Please, please leave feedback, this post has taken several hours!)



Reverend Strange said...

Good stuff! My copy of C86, ironically, is the vinyl release that Rough Trade put out. Must dig it out again.

I always thought the Stone Roses took the hook from 'Velocity Girl' for 'Made of Stone'...

I'm desperately seeking the original NME celebration of Indie - C81... Don't suppose you've got any plans to do an entry on that, Ed?

Ed said...

I would love to do an entry on that, and I have the cassette, but like I say, not the thing in mp3 format. If anyone can help, please get in touch.

If anyone is interested, here is a piece my wife found for me on John Peel's gravestone:

eyevocal said...

Sorry to bring the whinge again, but the links for the Shrubs and Wedding Present songs (the last two) were down. Awaiting those to finish this nice little touchstone. Thanks for all the efforts.

Ed said...

No problem eyevocal, the links are now fixed, thanks for bringing it to my attention.


Anonymous said...

i feel so very very old, 22 years ago, what happened to my youth?

Ed said...

tell me about it! At thirty-one, when i discuss music with the students i'm privileged to teach, i can't believe that many of them were born after Nevermind came out, or see The Smiths in a retro way, as opposed to remembering them.

BTW the reverend's comment on Velocity Girl; I remember Bobby Gillespie making a similar claim in Smash Hits back in 1990...

Anonymous said...

Must be said, I agree with Peel's assessment of Stone Roses when he said "they're a bit like Herman's Hermits."

There's a very clear link between the Scream's first 2 albums and the Roses' first.

AND Bobby's a better singer ;-)

As always Ed, you're spoiling us.

cheers, Craig

Rol Hirst said...

A great post - though I know / own a few of these, it's nice to hear the others (though the last two links are playing up again - never mind).

I think it's fair to say though that the bands that survived are the ones that most deserved to, though the examples of their material here may not always be the best illustration of why.

Anonymous said...

Good post Ed, deep down I guess we're all c-86ers or we wouldn't be here, but...
<<'s appalling that a document as important as this in rock history is not available, nor many of its songs>>
Remember, this came out at a time when everybody was in their own band anyway and cassettes and flexi-discs were cheap, easy to make and...throwaway. Seems quite appropriate that it's not available. Who's even got a cassette player in their house anymore? As for the songs, they're all available one way or another.

Good stuff though
La Squadra

Ed said...

Craig -always happy to spoil my readers

Rol -will try and sort those links out again, don't know why they are playing up.

La squadra -some of the tracks are availbale, but many of them are not in the UK, whether in shops, or emusic or iTunes, hence the post. If they are all easily available elsewhere then all credit to...something!

Cheers for your feedback, Ed

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the hard work -much appreciated. Some classics (Primals,Pastels,Lemon Drops), some should-have-been-bigger (Mighty Mighty,Wolfhounds) to that insane MacKenzies track.


Ed said...

You're welcome, Chris. the feedback on this post makes me feel it has been worth it.


Huge Grunt said...

Ed, I've ripped many cassettes to mp3. Took a bit of faffing about, amp audio out into line in on pc soundcard and Roxio software to record and edit.


P.S. Always preferred The Bodines "Heard It All" to "Therese". I've got a few other NME/Sounds tapes and EP's lying somewhere at home, must look them out and remind myself what's on them. I know one of thems got the best version of Teenage Fanclub "Everything Flows" on it.

Ed said...

Will try it out this weekend, maybe it's more straightforward than I thought. If it is, then i could post the C81 tape here...