Saturday, September 7, 2019

Summer of Subway: The Chesterf!elds

If not for the fact the Rosehips appeared fairly early in this series, you might say I have been saving the best for last, and today and next Saturday feature just about my favorites from the Subway label.

The Chesterf!elds go way back with Martin Whitehead as the pride of Yeovil appeared on a flexi he put out in his fanzine in 1985. Many of the bands on Subway popped in for a quick single or an LP and were off again. With that history in mind, the Chesterf!elds were downright prolific in 1986 and 1987, releasing three singles/EPs, a long player and a compilation. They also appeared on both of the label's samplers.

The band is often described as "breezy" or "lightweight." Indeed, the Chesterf!elds during the Subway era were of the jangle that gets the head bobbing and the toes tapping, but the real strength of the band could be found in the wit of the words. I always sing along to lines like "Sir Edmund Hillary hasn't got a patch on me" from "Love Mountain," "here come the saviors, and they come with electric guitars in their hearts!" from "Completely & Utterly," "well if you'd like to know what pop stars have for tea, ask Johnny Dee" or "I really can't manage the twelve-inch version, what's your perversion?" No, they may have never hit the big time, so to speak, somebody out there must have really liked them because everything the Chesterf!elds released spent time on the indie chart.

The rotating cast of characters continued to put out music on their own Household label in the late '80s before calling it quits. In the ensuing years, fans in Japan kept the Chesterf!elds name alive, and Vinyl Japan reissued the music. There would be a best of put out by Cherry Red in 2006 that brought the Subway and Household work together and, yes, there would even be reunion shows in recent years headed up by original member Simon Barber and sometime member Andy Strickland (yes, from the Loft). One of my biggest regrets is not making the 3,000-mile trek to see them at the 2016 NYC Popfest. I know a couple of people who were there, and they called it a special night. Jerks. Ha! Tough to decide what to play today. I went for the three singles. Wise choice, I think.

A Guitar In Your Bath EP 7" (Subway 3, peaked at No. 19)
Sweet Revenge
What's Your Perversion?
Love Mountain
Best Of Friends

Completely & Utterly 7" (Subway 7, peaked at No. 16)
Completely & Utterly
Girl On A Boat

Ask Johnny Dee 7" (Subway 11, peaked at No. 4)
Ask Johnny Dee
Pop Anarchy!

So far in the Summer of Subway series:
The Groove Farm
Pop Will Eat Itself
Cowboy and Spin Girl
Choo Choo Train
Sex Clark Five
The Charlottes
Bubblegum Splash
Shop Assistants
The Soup Dragons
Rodney Allen
The Rosehips
Korova Milk Bar
The Clouds


Jez said...

I'm going to see them at London's legendary 100 Club next weekend Brian...excited doesn't even come close to explaining how I feel! I will report back!

Brian said...

The Waltones, Rodney Allen and Johnny Dee spinning records to boot... that is going to be a tremendous night, Jez. Now I have to curse your name too! I know you have the same love for She Looks Right Through Me from the Waltones, and I certainly recall you waxing poetic about how much Kettle meant to you as a lad. Can't wait to hear how it went.

Brian said...

Oh, and I know this is a broken record, but my comments at your place are going to junk again. Just know I'm still reading, Jez.