Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Big Wet (Pop)Kiss to Book About Sarah

Have you ever loved a book so much you purposely read slower so it wouldn't end? I managed to stretch Michael White's 'Popkiss: The Life and Afterlife of Sarah Records' to a monthlong affair, but it took rereading in-depth chapters on Heavenly and the Orchids and constantly referring to the complete list of Sarah releases at the back of the book like a student at exam time for me to accomplish this feat.

'Popkiss' works so well because you can easily spot White as one of the rabid fans that used to write to label founders Matt Haynes and Clare Wadd in Bristol, and the passion is palpable as you come to realize he has made efforts to interview everyone in the Sarah story, from a major player that was around for years, like Harvey Williams, to minor ones that produced just a single 7", such as Matthew Evans of Tramway. White seems to know that with a small but fanatical fan base there are bound to be readers who will criticize him for not spending equal time telling the tales of a Sweetest Ache or a Gentle Despite. That's missing the point. As White said in his introduction, in keeping with the spirit of Sarah, "think of this book as a selection of short, sharp seven-inch singles, rather than a deluxe twenty-fifth anniversary ten-CD box set with bonus-material download code."

Reading about all of your favorite Sarah bands is what will draw you to the book, but it won't take long for you to realize that the label and, indeed, this book, is really about Matt and Clare and their labor of love. That's why 'Popkiss: The Life and Afterlife of Sarah Records' will even work for those who found the music too twee, too cutie, too sad, too whatever. By the time the reader gets to the chapter on "A Day for Destroying Things," all fans of indie and DIY culture will have two new heroes. Congratulations to White for exceeding this rabid fan's expectations. His book deserves the accolades and commercial success that eluded his subject.

For those of you new to the label, here is Sarah 58 by the Hit Parade. Apologies for the pops and cracks. I have played this one to death. You can find the A-side on the compilation 'Pick of the Pops.'

"In Gunnersbury Park"


charity chic said...

Glad you took your time Brian - we will be asking questions later!

friend of rachel worth said...

My copy arrived in the post just before I read your post , spooky

Brian said...

FORW, Let me know what you think of it. I recall from other posts that you like the Orchids and Sugargliders. So, this will be right in your wheelhouse.

Brian said...

CC, Hope you grade on a curve!

The Swede said...

One to add to the list.