Friday, May 13, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter C, Part 1)

There aren't many albums on my shelf that have meant more to me than NME's 'C86.' I can't claim to have ever owned the original mail-order cassette. Fortunately, there was such a buzz that Rough Trade issued it on vinyl in the fall of that year. I special ordered it through a shop located near a college campus about 40 mintues from my home town. I recall it taking months to come in, but maybe it just felt that way. As you can see from the photo above, the price was less than five pounds in the UK, but I believe I paid $18 for this exotic import. Worth every penny. The cover has seen better days. Thirty years on, the copper color has begun to oxidize on the edges, turning it a rather unattractive brown. There is the obligatory ring made by the vinyl. Very few of us knew to keep the vinyl outside of the cover back then. The vinyl, although played to death, is still pretty good. Cherry Red reissued the vinyl as a double album just this year for Record Store Day. Not a bad idea putting it on two LPs given that 22 songs were crammed on the original. I bet it sounds great.

Like any compilation worth its salt, I would go on to buy many pieces of plastic from the mysterious new bands that were featured, especially Close Lobsters, Shop Assistants and the Bodines. To a lesser extent, though, the Mighty Lemon Drops, Mighty Mighty, McCarthy, the Pastels and the Wolfhounds would also find a home under the roof of my childhood home. It's funny, but to this day I'm still buying the work of bands from this album. During the blogging years I have discovered I really missed out on the Servants and the Wedding Present. Don't worry. Those issues have been rectified. There are some out there that think the 'C86' scene was an amateurish joke. If you're judging solely on the success of the bands that graced this set, you are correct. Only the Soup Dragons and Primal Scream went on to be big commercially... and with a sound that couldn't have been much different than what they displayed here. That type of success was never the point. As Andrew Collins of the NME once said, 'C86' was "the most indie thing to have ever existed." I hear the influence of this collection in the music I listen to almost every day and by many artists that weren't even born when the tape was released. To me, that's the very definition of success.

Twelve of the 22 bands on 'C86' will get there own days during this series. So, if I didn't choose the act you wanted to hear today, I apologize and offer the consolation that your day is more than likely coming soon.

Primal Scream - "Velocity Girl"
Close Lobsters - "Firestation Towers"
Miaow - "Sport Most Royal"


drew said...

I had the tape and if somebody had told me that thirty years later people would still be talking about it, I would have told them to " go boil their heid" as we say around here. I would also never have believed that both The Pastels and the Wedding Present would still be going in 2016 but then again I was convinced the world was going to end before the year 2000.

Echorich said...

In 1980, Rough Trade released Wanna Buy A Bridge, and it was like a reference bible for Post Punk in my mind. NME would release C81 which expanded on the prior year's amazing compilation. It wouldn't be until C86 that anything came close to Wanna Buy A Bridge. Just as for you Brian, it became a bed of musicial seeds which I would nurture into my record collection over the next decade and beyond.
36 years since WBAB and 30 since C86 - so much of the music holds up to this day.

friend of rachel worth said...

Bit like Drew, got the tape , but would have thought people crazy if they said that C86 would become part of the musical language. My and friends kind of thought of it as just another one of those record paper compilations. Of all of the bands it was the Bodines who I always thought would last the distance and the wedding present would be a one trick pony ( even if it was a fabulous trick). More evidence of why I dont gamble

kevinpat said...

I started collecting records at the age of 9 when I received a few coins as an Altar Boy for weddings and funerals I served.That was 1963. Music is and has been a part of everyday of my life. So how is it I only learned of this collection, and 98%of these bands a few months ago from the raves it received here?? It's so fun when I get introduced to music I didn't know. Like I was asleep and just missed it. Wow. I can't say I listen to my C86 often. And I can't say I listen to all three CDs in a clip. But I can say much of it I love. It goes great in the car and I feel like I'm on another planet and I'm listening to their music. Perhaps I'm so *seasoned* that I hear the influence of other bands. Others sound like they're fighting against any familiarity. Amateurish? Perhaps like what was said about Jackson Pollack. Tres cool. Indeed. And it's all because of you guys. Thanks!! What else have I missed?

Brian said...

Thanks for taking the time, fellas. The only two NME comps I really knew about as a youngster were C81 and C86, and I didn't own an actual copy of C81 until I bought it on ebay from a chap in Australia about five years ago. During the blogging era I have come to know of quite a few more important tapes, such as Dancin' Master, Hi-Voltage and Pogo a Go Go! These may be well known to you lads across the pond, but they would have been tough to come by over here. That's what makes Echorich's knowledge on the subject so impressive. As a kid I read NME quite a bit at my local record shop, but I only actually bought a copy occasionally. I have a feeling Echorich was a subscriber. And Kevinpat, that Cherry Red CD reissue with all of those extra tracks is a great investment if you don't know many of the bands on it. You might find you'll be buying more records based on further listening just as I did with the original C86 about 30 years ago.

Dirk said...

I find it even more astonishing that so many C86 bands, or so many of "this sort of bands" rather, have re-united and are still doing stuff in 2016 .... I NEVER would have thought that back then!

JC said...

brilliant piece of writing.