Saturday, 13 July 2013

Various – Scared To Get Happy (Cherry Red)

4 stars
It was Kitchenware Records underdogs Hurrah! Who gifted this bumper 5 CD 1980s indie-pop compendium takes its name its title via a lyric from their single Hip Hip, which duly inspired a Sarah Records related fanzine. It's arguable that neither Kitchenware, Sarah or the bands they housed could have existed without Orange Juice, who flirted with the fragile notion of happiness on their song, Felicity. It was Edwyn Collins' arch-janglers, after all, who arguably invented the anti-macho, anti-rockist aesthetic that would go on to become a genre before Madchester and Brit-Pop triumphalism shoved such literate sensibilities aside.

It's odd, therefore, that while Collins' Sound of Young Scotland contemporaries Josef K, Aztec Camera and Fire Engines are here, Orange Juice aren't. Neither, indeed, are The Pastels, who picked up Postcard Records DIY mantle and went on to influence the spirit of every generation of independently-minded bands that followed in their wake. Again, Pastels peers such as the BMX Bandits, The Shop Assistants, Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes and The Boy Hairdressers, as well as a nascent Primal Scream, all appear.

Scared To Get Happy isn't, however, attempting to replicate C86, the NME cassette compilation for which readers collected six weeks worth of vouchers then waited twenty-eight days for delivery before being able to hear a collection which defined an era of so-called 'shambling' bands. Nor is it a recreation of Pillows and Prayers, Cherry Red's own defining compilation of the label's early 1980s roster which was sold for just 99p.Artists from both albums appear here, but this is a broader church, which, despite the plethora of Scottish acts on show, including Strawberry Switchblade, The Wake, TV 21, Scars, The Bluebells, Del Amitri, Friends Again and others, embraces a disparate array of under-achievers, one-offs and future pop stars from all over.

The Jesus and Mary Chain, Pulp and The Stone Roses fall into the latter bracket, though its tantalisingly wonderful one-offs like the heroic romance of the Wild Swans' The Revolutionary Spirit and Fantastic Something's sublime If She Doesn't Smile (It'll Rain) that matter just as much. As the collection's 134 tracks move through the decade without a Fairlight in sight, even with the omissions, here is a parallel pop universe preserved in all its lo-fi glory. 

The List, July 2013

ends


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