Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Claim on Caff

Do you remember Jon Favreau's 'Dinner For Five' that used to be on IFC? If I ever hosted a program like that, one of my first guests would be Bob Stanley. One of the myriad of reasons why I would have no audience, however, is that I'm not sure I would even ask him about Saint Etienne. He's a first-rate writer and chronicler of music, and he is known to have an incredible vinyl collection. How could I possibly get around to the importance of 'Fox Base Alpha' during the 30 minutes... including commercials? I'm sure I would be able to hear everyone's remote controls click as I stare at Stanley with starry eyes and spend an entire segment asking him about his days running Caff Records while the other guests pick at their food and curse their agents under their breaths.

For the next few posts, I thought it might be fun to listen to a few songs from the legendary label. Caff's run was quite short, from 1989 until 1992, but the 17 one-off releases, all on 7" and limited to 500 copies each, have certainly left a mark. A quick look at ebay shows prices range from $30 to $130 for one of these pieces of vinyl. Perhaps singles by Manic Street Preachers and Pulp will be the ones the masses will remember most, but those aren't the ones that first pop into my mind.

Let's start with CAFF 8. Ah, the Claim. Here's a bit of what Stanley had to say about the lads. I lifted this from the liner notes to 'Black Path,' the band's retrospective put out by Rev-Ola in 1995: "The Claim: hopelessly obscure but with enough melodic clout, character and charm not to let it worry them unduly. It's very English, not in a whimsical 'village green' way but in a kitchen sink, fish and chips way... Until this urgent, honest, heart-warming pop becomes fashionable again, the Claim will have an audience limited to those who can appreciate good music without any hype, dogtags or slogans."

More because of geography than anything else, the Claim are often compared to the Dentists, but I have always heard more of the band's love for the Jam (not as much on this single, however) and their heroes the Jasmine Minks. While you give this a listen, read a recent piece Stanley wrote for the Guardian that every record collector is sure to enjoy.

The Claim - Birth of a Teenager
The Claim - Mike the Bike (featuring Vic Templar)


Echorich said...

Bob Stanley is a musician who is also one of us...a dyed in the wool fan. I think making music and listening to music are equal experiences for him.
I'm sure I could sit at a bar and drink and talk music with him for hours.
I totally agree with your Jasmine Minks comparison with regard to The Claim. They have too much sense of irony to be compared to The Jam. And they have more jangle in their guitars.

Brian said...

Echorich, I would like to be the bartender when you two meet. There would be lots of eavesdropping.