Tag Archives: sarah

EVEN AS WE SPEAK: One Step Forward EP (7″, Sarah SARAH 49, 1991)

Even As We Speak - One Step Forward EP

Australian band Even As We Speak were an ambitious lot, in the context of the often-lazy, often-detail-rather-than-big-picture world of indie-pop. This EP, for example, plays at 33 1/3 rpm rather than the usual (for Sarah Records, at least) 45 rpm – yet it still only contains one song per side. What does that mean? Why, that Even As We Speak were a veritable prog-rock behemoth of a band – comparatively speaking. These two songs are pretty long, pretty inventive, and include forays off in various directions (including pseudo-New Order style electronic tinges), turning them into tiny epics rather than mere simple tunes.

It was all leading up to their later Sarah album, Feral Pop Frenzy, which was – at the time, and possibly even now – outstandingly ambitious. It had seventeen songs, ran (I think) for over an hour, and was a proper ‘journey’ of an album, and one that even hinted at Concept Album status, with melodic references popping up from song to song.

At their heart, and in their overall sound, Even As We Speak were proud indie-pop badgewearers. I do remember thinking around the time of their releases, though, that they were somehow different – one of several bands at the time that hinted that whilst indie-pop, as we all know, don’t stop, there’s no reason why it can’t be experimented with and pulled in different directions. How grown up!

The photograph of saucepans on the Factory Records-design-style cover is credited as ‘Yukino’s Saucepans, by Akiko’. I wonder if that was Akiko who ran Sugarfrost Records at around the same time…?

I did a quick search on eBay for ‘feral pop frenzy’ and there’s a vinyl copy for sale at £29.99. I won’t link to it, in case the auction has ended by now, but I will link to the seller – Oscar The Cat’s Records – who is worth mentioning as they include within their product photographs a cat, presumably Oscar.

THE GOLDEN DAWN: George Hamilton’s Dead (7″, Sarah SARAH 17, 1989)

The Golden Dawn - George Hamilton's Dead

Another seven inch single on Sarah Records. I guess there’s a stronger chance of such releases being the ones that pop up as a randomly-selected choice, because there are a lot of them in my collection!

This The Golden Dawn isn’t the 1960s The Golden Dawn, of course, who released the outstanding psychedelic LP Power Plant. Perhaps I’ll talk about them on here at some point in the future – it’s all in the hands of the random number generator, as you know… This The Golden Dawn do have a bit of a psychedelic edge, I have to admit, although it’s shot through with a healthy dose of indie-pop simplicity and lightness. The Golden Dawn and 14 Iced Bears were two of the Sarah bands that I liked the most – they seemed to have a slight edge that took them beyond the most straightforward indie-pop, and in their case it took them into a somewhat 60s-tinged edge that pressed my buttons during the early ’90s. (Of course, the entire C86, indie-pop and fanzine scene had a rather healthy obsession with the 1960s – but generally it seemed to take the form of the imagery or personalities of the time, rather than directly influencing the music).

As with most of the Sarah releases before roughly SARAH 40 or so, this record included a poster insert. It shows The Golden Dawn with a selection of high-contrast monochrome photographs, which reflect the style (and, more specifically, haircuts), that were so popular around the time because of bands like Jesus And Mary Chain and Primal Scream. At this time, all that a good band photograph needed was a couple of bowl haircuts, a paisley shirt or two, a slightly otherworldly look around the eyes and a lot of contrast.

The other insert included in the record is one of Sarah’s ‘also for sale’ lists, in the form of a long, thin, folded piece of paper. Even at the time of this record coming out, SARAHs 1 through 10, 13 and 14 had all sold out. The rest were still available, though, for the fantastic price (including postage) of just £1.70 apiece. The insert also reports that Heavenly’s ‘I Fell In Love Last Night’ was just about to be released – a record that would nicely bridge the gap between the ‘old days’ of Talulah Gosh and the new sound of Heavenly, who would become intertwined with Riot Grrrl and quite heavily influence a lot of bands and musicians.

ANOTHER SUNNY DAY: You Should All Be Murdered (Three Songs) (7″, Sarah SARAH 22, ?)

Another Sunny Day. Another Sarah record! Right after the previous post about a Blueboy record, the random number machine points me at this single. It’s got no release date (or copyright date) mentioned anywhere, but the catalogue number would suggest that this came out in around 1990 or so. Another Sunny Day not only have a delightfully twee band name, but also win my prize for the most twee song title I’ve ever heard – ‘I’m in love with a girl who doesn’t know I exist’. That song isn’t on this record, which has a substantially more beefy and macho title, but I felt it worth mentioning nonetheless.

The insert within this record’s wraparound sleeve is an A6, single-colour (violet) postcard, showing some parked cars outside what I think is Bristol Temple Meads railway station. Sarah releases around this time would contain a selection of postcards like this, which could be assembled into a larger image. Strangely, I don’t know if the Sarah records I have include all of the postcard elements required to build up the big image – I’ve never thought to check. How remiss of me. Also, how odd that I’m not planning on checking after writing this. Perhaps the disappointment if it was not to be is too much to contemplate.

This record was a very apt choice to be randomly selected, for today is in reality Another Sunny Day, being yet another in a long stream of sunny days that have come my way recently. I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent about this kind of weather. I like the sun and the warmth, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t help feeling that I prefer cold weather. I think it’s that the uncomfortable feelings of cold weather can be addressed by wearing more clothes; or by turning up the heating. It’s hard to similarly combat the effects of hot weather without striding around in next to no clothes. And I’m not the kind of fellow who would feel comfortable doing that.

BLUEBOY: Clearer (7″, Sarah SARAH 55, 1991)

Blueboy - Clearer

This is only the second Sarah Records release so far that’s come up as a candidate for my witterings on here. That’s quite a surprise to me. As I’ve said before, Sarah was one of the first record labels that I pointed my fevered collector attentions at, and as such there are a lot of Sarah records squirrelled away on my shelves. Not a full collection, however – that milestone is as yet to be reached (and if anybody has a mint condition copy of The Sea Urchins’ ‘Pristine Christine’ they’d like to donate, get in touch…)

Shortly after the time of this record’s release, I became aware that Sarah were holding some kind of Christmas party knees-up in Bristol, and that it was being held on the day of my birthday (22nd December, by the way, for the SARAH 1 donaters out there). At the time, I was relatively naive about things and unable to travel far beyond what was easily reachable by train, let alone making my way to an event that would necessitate some kind of late return home or – shock – working out somewhere to stay for the night. (I wasn’t a thunderously rock’n’roll eighteen year old, at least in terms of travelling outside of Shropshire). However, this party seemed so inviting, and I felt it was fate that it was being held on my birthday. Being a skint, but innovative young chap, I decided to work up the courage to phone up Sarah Records, and nervously ask if I could have a free ticket, y’know, being as it was going to be my birthday an’ all. To my delight and surprise this was agreed to by a very friendly Clare Wadd! But. It never worked out. I didn’t sort out any kind of travel or accommodation plans, and so my birthday came and went as normal, with no indie-pop celebrations! Ho hum.

That party was being held on the Thekla in Bristol, a stationary boat containing a venue. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve since made it to the venue, to experience one of the most intimidating gigs of my life so far. It’s funny that within the time that had passed between around 1991 and around 2005, my listening tastes had gone from twee, super-melodic indie-pop music to utterly brutal, scream-drenched cavernous drone. That was never planned!

THE FOREVER PEOPLE: Invisible (7″, Sarah SARAH 54, 1991)

The Forever People - Invisible

Sarah was one of the first labels that I got truly fanatical and collectorish about, diligently buying up all of their releases and doing my utmost to plug gaps in my collection of their earlier releases. I liked the fact that they were so consistent and principled about their business – releasing music that they liked (which, contrary to popular belief, wasn’t all wimpy indie-pop – just some of it…), generally on vinyl, always with an eye on using their records as an opportunity to connect with listeners and push their political or ideological views. Typing that out now makes it sound like a grand affair, but it was always more subtle than that, and I never felt that as a label they were doing anything beyond releasing good music with some interesting additional aspects to the packages.

The Forever People was Greg Webster and Tim Vass of the Razorcuts (and a ton of other bands), and I think that this record was either the only one that they released, or at least one of a very small number. Sarah broke with tradition on this one by using their traditional 7-inch square insert not as a carrier for their own information, but instead to spread a message about Friends of the Earth and the importance of their activities. Indeed, the back of this record’s sleeve states ‘A Friends of the Earth Benefit Recording’, so I presume that some or all of the profits from it were donated to the charity.

This being a later Sarah release (not that that means much now, as it was released eighteen years ago in 1991!) means that they’d moved beyond the lovable wraparound sleeves held inside poly bags, to a more traditional 7″ record sleeve style – with glued-down edges, die-cut record insertion area, the works. Have to say, I always preferred the old poly bags. I liked the idea that each and every record had been placed into a hand-folded sleeve, an insert popped in, and the whole lot placed into a bag at Sarah HQ.