Indie Pop / Younger Than Today 1980 – 1989


1980 - 1986


1 ORANGE JUICE / Blue Boy / Single A Side August 1980

2 JOSEF K / Sorry For Laughing / Single A Side February 1981

3 TV PERSONALITIES / I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives / And Don’t The Kids Just Love It February 1981

4 AZTEC CAMERA / We Could Send Letters / Single A Side March 1981

5 FIRE ENGINES / Candyskin / Single A Side May 1981

6 THE CHILLS / Pink Frost / Single A Side July 1982

7 THE PALE FOUNTAINS / There’s Always Something On My Mind / Single A Side July 1982

8 THE TIMES / I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape / Pop Goes Art July 1982

9 MARINE GIRLS / Love To Know / Lazy Ways March 1983

10 FELT / Penelope Tree / Single A Side June 1983

11 BIFF! BANG! POW! / Then When I Scream / Single B Side February 1984

12 REVOLVING PAINT DREAM / Flowers In The Sky / Single A Side February 1984

13 JUNE BRIDES / Every Conversation / Single A Side September 1984

14 JESUS AND MARY CHAIN / Upside Down / Single A Side November 1984

15 JASMINE MINKS / Ghost Of A Young Man / 1234567 All Good Preachers Go To Heaven December 1984

16 HOODOO GURUS / I Want You Back / Single A Side January 1985

17 THE LOFT / Up The Hill And Down The Slope / Single A Side April 1985

18 THE WOODENTOPS / Move Me / Single A Side April 1985

19 THE DENTISTS / Strawberries Are Growing In My Garden / Single A Side June 1985

20 JAZZ BUTCHER / The Human Jungle / Single A Side August 1985

21 SHOP ASSISTANTS / All Day Long / Single A Side August 1985

22 MIGHTY LEMON DROPS / Happy Head / Happy Head March 1986

23 THE PRIMITIVES / Thru’ The Flowers / Single A Side May 1986

24 WEATHER PROPHETS / Almost Prayed / Single A Side June 1986

25 SOUP DRAGONS / Whole Wide World / Single A Side June 1986


1986 - 1989


1 RAILWAY CHILDREN / Gentle Sound / Single A Side July 1986

2 THE FLATMATES / I Could Be In Heaven / Single A Side August 1986

3 THE WOLFHOUNDS / Anti Midas Touch / Single A Side September 1986

4 THE SERVANTS / The Sun A Small Star / Single A Side October 1986

5 POP WILL EAT ITSELF / Sweet Sweet Pie / Single A Side January 1987

6 THE PASTELS / Baby Honey / Up For A Bit With… February 1987

7 MY BLOODY VALENTINE / Paint A Rainbow / Sunny Sundae Smile EP February 1987

8 THE CHESTERFIELDS / Ask Johnny Dee / Single A Side March 1987

9 STONE ROSES / Sally Cinnamon / Single A Side May 1987

10 TALLULAH GOSH / Tallulah Gosh / Single A Side June 1987

11 CLOSE LOBSTERS / Pimps / Foxheads Stalk This Land October 1987

12 SEA URCHINS / Pristine Christine / Single A Side November 1987

13 THIS POISON / Poised Over The Pause Button / Single A Side November 1987

14 THE GROOVE FARM / The Best Part Of Being With You / Surfin’ In The Subway Compilation November 1987

15 THE VASELINES / Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam / Dying For It EP March 1988

16 HOUSE OF LOVE / Christine / Single A Side April 1988

17 McCARTHY / Should The Bible Be Banned? / Single A Side April 1988

18 BEAT HAPPENING / Indian Summer / Jamboree July 1988

19 CUD / Make No Bones / Single B Side September 1988

20 WEDDING PRESENT / Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now? / Single A Side September 1988

21 DARLING BUDS / Uptight / Pop Said January 1989

22 THE SUNDAYS / I Kicked A Boy / Single B Side February 1989

23 THE FIELD MICE / Sensitive / Single A Side February 1989

24 INSPIRAL CARPETS / Butterfly / Train Surfing EP March 1989

25 PRIMAL SCREAM / I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have / Primal Scream September 1989


   The immediate post punk years carried with them a surfeit of ‘miserablism’, a dead end of despair. In the summer of 1980, shattered by the death of Ian Curtis, there was a search for something life affirming, for something different.  Everything about Orange Juice immediately felt different. The Glasgow group’s very name was refreshing, the music, a spring heeled shambles of Byrd’s and Velvets, felt like a tonic too. And when a ‘new pop’ course began to coalesce around their label Postcard Records with the addition of the wiry, clanking Josef K, and boy genius Roddy Frames Aztec Camera, independent pop emerged all shiny and bright from the dark. Unwittingly Postcard became the blueprint for most future labels of any worth: Creation, 53rd & 3rd, Subway, Sarah, collectable singles purveying an easily definable sound and graphic sensibility.  

   In the early days Indie pop threw up a gaggle of exciting mavericks exploring the poppier side of post punk but post punk nonetheless. TV Personalities  (who really did know where Syd Barrett lived, informing a huge London crowd of his address while supporting a solo David Gilmour no less), Fire Engines (the group Postcard most wanted but never got), New Zealand exiles The Chills, Pale Fountains, Ed Ball’s Times, Tracy Thorne’s Marine Girls and especially Laurence Hayward’s Felt, were all still highly experimental and new and vastly different to each other. For many of us sad, burnt out vets, the sounds they introduced were as revolutionary as the primal ooze of the early days. And we were all still no older than 23.

   But by 1985, it seemed like all that old post punk energy had dissipated forever. The really depressing thing wasn’t the mainstream tyranny of nouveau riche pop promoted by the orgiastic spectacle of Live Aid and Thatcher/Reagan’s world view, so much as the lacklustre state of the alternative scene. And I should know, I was right in the middle of it, desperately trying to find the future, clinging on for dear life to the Sisters, The Cult and The Mission’s 1969 Altamont version of the sixties. The heroic phase of the Independent movement was long past and there began to be a semantic shift from ‘Independent’ to ‘Indie’, from futurism to retro. For the first time there was a widespread impulse to look to the past.

   During the punk and post punk era, the past was obliterated because there was too much happening in the present. But from 1983 on, like many others, I started to buy the occasional old record, usually from second hand shops. We began to reference old favourites like the Stones and The Velvets but also The Byrd’s, Love and Big Star. Sixties music contained cosmic open heartedness and Dionysian abandon that was attractive and cleansing. In their struggle against the dour eighties, Indie bands began to invoke the very decade that Thatcher and Reagan were attempting to discredit. Of course there was also a big element of nostalgic fascination but revisiting the sixties was a ready made solution to the post post-punk quandary of ‘what next?’

   The Jesus and Mary Chains caterwauling mix of Beach Boys melody and oddly serene feedback pioneered this new ‘record collection rock’. Primal Scream were Creation label mates of the Mary Chain, frontman and notable sixties scholar Bobby Gillespie their original drummer. He became the figurehead of an emerging scene, set within the confined space of the British Indie movement, known variously as ‘cutie’, ‘twee’, ‘shambling’ or more usually C86, after an NME cassette of the same name. This heralded the true birth of Indie pop as a genre in itself, a genre frozen in pop history at 1966 and 1978 (just before the leaps into psychedelia and post punk).

   Built on a self serving nationwide network of underground guitar music and fanzines, it was a ‘Revolt into Childhood’, a cult of innocence reflected in the school kid clothes, the duffel coats, outsize sweaters, bows, ribbons and ponytails and pale thin bodies. Infact, the whole look was jokingly termed ‘anoraksia nervosa’, and was written large in the group names: The Woodentops, Mighty Lemon Drops, Soup Dragons, Railway Children, The Pastels, Close Lobsters, Sea Urchins and the ultra naïf Tallulah Gosh. It was a revolt in the truest sense against the glossy, black influenced, dance orientated chart pop of the day. Indie pop made a fetish of the opposite characteristics: scruffy guitars, white only sources, weak folky voices, undanceable rhythms, lo-fi or luddite production and a definably sixties slant. Even hardcore hedonists like Pop Will Eat Itself, Stone Roses and the House Of Love got dragged in, seizing the marketing opportunities, albeit unconsciously.

   In the end, by the late eighties and the final collapse of Rough Trade and the Independent distribution network, there was a desperate need for change. Rave and dance culture began to inform a different mentality. There was no longer a hankering for a present, shaped and moulded by the past. Instead there was a sense of inclusion. Indie popsters were all looking for a home excluded from the mainstream but the new baggy, Madchester bands, busily chomping E’s were the opposite. They embraced, and were embraced, by everyone. Even Primal Scream, the shamblers shining light, had ‘I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’ reworked into ‘Loaded’. And for the next couple of years everyone was.  

   Indie pop was severely castigated back in the day as ‘Regressive Rock’, stuck forever in pop history. Yet many of the key groups have proved surprisingly enduring. Kurt Cobain was a huge fan of The Pastels and The Vaseline’s, and the Manics revered the likes of McCarthy who had an unusual political consciousness and I’m surprised just how good The Railway Children, Wolfhounds, Pastels, Groove Farm and others sound now. The legacy is larger than anyone could have imagined.

August 2006