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MECCA NORMAL: Rose (7″, K IPU 32, 1992)

This is another choice from a pile of seven inch singles that I purchased from a kindly Brighton-based seller on eBay some years ago. I think I’ve mentioned this transaction on here before. It was a set of K Records and other US indie label releases, and it was a joy to receive them in the mail.

If you haven’t heard of K Records’ ‘International Pop Underground’ series, of which this is a part (IPU = International Pop Underground, you see?), it’s worth acquainting yourself. Since the late eighties (I think), K have been regularly releasing seven inch singles in this series, and as a whole it builds up a pretty comprehensive record – pun intended – of underground artists over time. Here’s an alphabetical list of some of the artists that have been involved:

  • Beck
  • Bis
  • Blood Sausage
  • Gossip
  • Gravel
  • Heavenly
  • Honeybunch
  • Lois
  • Love As Laughter
  • Make-Up
  • Some Velvet Sidewalk

Quite a fruity and impressive list, I’d suggest, in the indie-pop and alternative spheres. And that’s only a sliver of the full set.

Mecca Normal are an odd band. Very confidently, almost defiantly simplistic, using just guitar and voice. The voice (that of Jean Smith) is one that I’m on the fence about, and have been so for years. It’s something of a strangled wail, but it has an odd musicality and an undeniable personality and power. It’s one of those musical things, though, that I’m just not sure if I like that much. I certainly appreciate it, but I’m just not that keen on hearing it! Does that even make sense? Is it patronising to say that I ‘appreciate’ it?

Thinking about it now, the IPU series is missing one thing from my perspective – inserts. That’s what these records need – little paper inserts with full listings of previous IPU releases, and some information about the artists. That’d make the series pretty much the indie-pop-collector fans’ dream!

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