Monday, December 3, 2012

You'll Want to Crash With These Flatmates

Like in life, flatmates come and go, but the Flatmates were held together, at least for a spell, by guitarist/principal songwriter Martin Whitehead and vocalist Debbie Haynes. Through all of the lineup changes, the band managed to release five singles between 1986 and 1988. Each were smashes on the UK Indie Chart. The Flatmates listened to a lot of Velvet Underground and Ramones, resulting in a little harder, faster and rougher sound than many of its C86 peers. Haynes' delivery went even further back, reminiscent of the The Shangri-Las' Mary Weiss. Major-label success seemed inevitable.

A long-term lease would have been nice but, alas, these Flatmates couldn't get along. By the fall of '88, just as it seemed the band would hit it big, internal strife, including a fight on stage at a huge University of London Student Union show in front of industry bigwigs, led to the Flatmates' premature demise. With the passage of time, however, it seems the band's short shelf life has only added to the legend. It's certainly tough to proclaim the Flatmates a mere footnote when you can hear their sound in so many bands that followed, including later Lush, the Darling Buds and Elastica.

Take a listen to "Happy All the Time," the Flatmates' second single. Then pick up Cherry Red's 2005 collection 'Potpourri (Hits, Mixes and Demos '85-'89).' Almost (but not quite) all of the band's output is there, and you won't even have to share fridge space with these Flatmates.

The Flatmates - Happy All the Time (mp3)

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