Saturday, July 6, 2019

Summer of Subway: Bubblegum Splash

By the time you read this I'll be several days into our annual trip to the hiking trails of southern Utah, but I didn't want to leave you indie-pop fans as dry as my skin must be at this very minute. On with the series! This does mean, however, time is short. Summer is known for repeats, or reruns, as we like to call them here in America, and I'm lifting heavily from my 2016 post on our next victim in the series.

Salisbury band Bubblegum Splash were only together for a year, and their entire discography was seven songs. Although seemingly a mere footnote, however, they were on the Subway Organization, and that means Bubblegum Splash had to be something special. Label founder Martin Whitehead knew how to pick 'em. Bubblegum Splash can be described as lo-fi garage... really lo-fi... and that's the charm. Nikki, the lead singer, joined the band when the lads spotted her at a pub in a Jesus and Mary Chain T-shirt. Hardly a résumé for fronting a band, but that's mid-'80s indie for you. Nikki wasn't exactly brimming with confidence, and she often sang behind a curtain during practice and turned her back on the audience at gigs. There were shows with the Pastels, Talulah Gosh, Vaselines, Darling Buds and Flatmates. Greats, one and all, and Bubblegum Splash fits in well with this lot.

I can provide six of the band's seven songs. Today's first pick is Subway 13, the "Splashdown EP," recorded at SAM Studios in Bristol on Feb. 22, 1987. You'll hear some Shop Assistants and Swell Maps in these four very very quick songs. Marty, credited as the tambourine player on the 7", recalls this set being recorded the day Andy Warhol died. This turned out to be Bubblegum Splash's 15 minutes of fame. "Splashdown" peaked at No. 15 on the indie chart.

Plastic Smile
Just Walked Away
Fast of Friends
One of Those Things

Bubblegum Splash made their recording debut earlier in the year on the label's excellent second compilation 'Surfin' in the Subway' (SUBORG 4) alongside the likes of the Chesterf!elds, the Rosehips, Groove Farm, Razorcuts and the Flatmates. A must have for any indie-pop enthusiast. "The 18:10 To Yeovil Junction" should not be confused with "Last Train to Yeovil" by the Chesterf!elds. For American readers, Yeovil is 40 miles south of Bristol. I love these two even better than the "Splashdown EP," but "Someone Said" is my personal favorite. Eighty-eight seconds of teenage angst, and what a chorus... "Just a rumor that I heard / but it's confirmed word for word / And now I think I don't want to know you." Brilliant.

Someone Said
The 18:10 To Yeovil Junction

So far in the Summer of Subway series:
Shop Assistants
The Soup Dragons
Rodney Allen
The Rosehips
Korova Milk Bar
The Clouds


Charity Chic said...

Tracy Thorn was similar Brian
She used to sing hiding in a cupboard!

Brian said...

I know. That's crazy. Can you imagine having a voice like that and feeling fear?