Wednesday, June 11, 2014

UK Indie Hits: 1980-89 (No. 2)

I'm counting down my top 50 singles from the golden age of the UK Independent Charts.

2. Aztec Camera - "Just Like Gold"

Other Contenders: To me, every eligible single is perfection, but the artist didn't quite agree. Roddy Frame was disappointed with Postcard's swansong, "Mattress of Wire" b/w "Lost Outside the Tunnel." He would record it again, but he was never satisfied with the results. There were three A-sides for Rough Trade before Aztec Camera moved to WEA. "From Pillar to Post," "Oblivious" and "Walk Out to Winter" are unimpeachable. If you try, just know I'll have a finger in each ear and will riddle the room with "la-la-las" in rapid succession.

Chart Entry: April 4, 1981

Peak Position: No. 10

Comment: Frame, the pride of East Kilbride, really was the sound of YOUNG Scotland. He was just 17 years old when Postcard released Aztec Camera's first single. Unlike the followup, "Mattress of Wire," Frame was proud of this 7". He told NME, "I don't think I could improve 'Just Like Gold' in any way. I spent a lot of time trying to sound unclichéd. There's no chorus in it, nothing's repeated." Perhaps it's unfair, but there is no doubt the flip side, "We Could Send Letters," has swayed my pick. Postcard's Alan Horne told Frame "it sounds like the Eagles." After a long and painful pause, he added, "which is a good thing." I don't know about that, but I do think this earlier take is superior to the 'High Land, Hard Rain' version. Further, I believe it's just as good as the A-side.

My love affair with Aztec Camera didn't begin with this single. After viewing the music video for "Oblivious," I sprinted to the record shop for 'High Land, Hard Rain.' I was 13. It was a little while before I learned there were Aztec Camera songs prior to the debut album. I was too busy searching the record bins for 12" singles of "Oblivious" and "Walk Out to Winter." I eventually got educated the old-fashioned way... through music magazines... but my point is Aztec Camera was my gateway to learning about NME's 'C81' and the entire Postcard family. "Just Like Gold" was my first Postcard single, and this only adds to its prestige and lofty placement on my list.

Buy the "Just Like Gold" single on Discogs. As I'm typing this, there are two for sale there starting at $45. If you already have the 7", perhaps you would be interested in a "Just Like Gold" T-shirt. I bought this from Frame's new label, AED Records, last year. Yes, those are my pecks below. Settle down, ladies! I'm taken!

Since I spend so much time praising the B-side, here's a little bonus:

Aztec Camera - We Could Send Letters


Echorich said...

I won't argue with this choice!

friend of rachel worth said...

Saw the anniversary concert for hlhr last yr and he did an initial set of pre high land tracks which he called his east kilbride set . Fantastic stuff

Brian said...

I will forever be envious. I came really close to coming over for that one. We'll have to have a chat about Seven Dials at some point.