... well, we had a party... and right up to the last minute it looked like we'd have no drum-kit, because Heavenly had mislaid their floor-tom (later discovered being used by David from Comet Gain as a laundry basket), and only one guitar amp because Harvey, who was supposed to be bringing his, had got held up in London, and Cathy (heavenly) had said that though normally she'd be more than happy to pick it up on her way from Brixton, the idea of driving via Shepherd's Bush when the Notting Hill Carnival was on didn't really appeal... she then offered to break into Amelia's parents' house in Reading because she thought there was one there, and apparently it's dead easy to do, you just go round the back and - but somehow, breaking and entering seemed an unwise thing to be getting into at this stage...
We managed in the end though, and people came from far and wide... 48 from France, 25 from Germany,,, Canada, Japan, Thailand, USA... even a party of seven from Hull. And... well, I guess if you were there then you know what happened, and if you weren't you'd probably rather we kept quiet - I know word's already got round about Harvey and Julian (Hit Parade) performing their set entirely naked, and The Orchide coming on-stage as a human pyramid perched atop the handlebars of a Harley Davidson, and the whole evening ending with a 400 strong conga around the streets of Bristol led by the boys from the Avonmouth Retired Dockworkers Good Time Oompah Band - so I'll say nothing: for if, as Telly Savalas one sang, a picture paints a thousand words, then, um... how can... um... how many words would two pictures paint in half the time? Exactly. But - heck - I really can't not mention such highlights as Secret Shine's rendition of Take That's 'Magic', or Bobby (Field Mice/NPL) holding court by the door having been kidnapped and driven here by Ian Catt, or Lee Action Painting! turning up out of the blue and saying "I'm Lee from Action Painting" as if we didn't know (Action Painting! were supposed to play... only they split up instead. Lee's now in Designer who, reading between the lines, we reckon are sort of punk-romo, and therefore probably the best band in the world), or Tim Shelley (ie Orlando) getting thrown out for punching Neil Bouquet. Apparently he also refused to close a window when somebody asked him. We'd like to emphasise that we in no way condone such blatently rock'n'roll behaviour; being on the front of Melody Maker doesn't make someone big or clever, just a bit garish. And punching people just because they're in Bouquet and not closing a window when somebody's clearly a bit chilly are the first steps on a slippery slope to who-knows-what depravity. Though if it's got steps, of course, it's not really a slope: unless there's some sort of wheelchair ramp. Finally, sorry to anyone who got given a Mendip County Council balloon instead of a Sarah 100 one - just one of the drawbacks of getting your balloons printed in Trowbridge. Apologies too to anyone from Mendip County Council whose Staff Party was totally ruined by getting a balloon with Sarah 100 Balloon written on it and not knowing what it meant. 'Sarah' is the name of a record label.
Or was. Because on August 28th it all ended with the realease of Sarah 100, There and Back again Lane, our final retrospective CD thingy (21 songs from 21 bands and a big booklet of anecdotes and pictures). Though only after much trauma - I have long-suspected that there are special exams you have to fail in order to become a printer, and Sarah 100 proved it; we nearly missed the release dat and oh, the printing's still not perfect but then what is? Life is all regrets, and I've had a few, as Frank Sinatra onece sang, before hiccuping loudly and falling over sideways. But we made it - even if the final pressing order, did have to be phoned in from Heathrow airport within earshot of various top stars from Ride, Supergrass and Echobelly - "That's just the promo quantity, of course" we said, loud as possible, but I don't suppose we fooled anyone. Heathrow? Ah yes... because that Spanish festival featuring Heavenly finally happened, personal highlights bein: meeting David Poppyhead for the first time since 1988 (he's now in Revolution #9); watching Martin Rossiter getting told off at Valencia Airport for walking along the baggage carousel; Matthew Heavenly mistaking Jimbob and Fruitbat for the rest of his band; and, of course, Heavenly themselves, playing stadium rock to 20,000 people, with Amelia thannkfully choosing not to witter to the fornt row about - anything at all. And, um, if you did go all the way to Spain for it, we're sorry we gave you the wrong date last time.
... was going to be called Metropolitan but sadly ther's already a label called that, so we had to re-think and, keeping the railway theme, came up with:
which is what the Japanese call the Bullet Train. So there.
First release will be by a band with the unlikely name of Tompot Blenny - or not unlikely if you're a fish because that's what a tompot blenny is. A fish. If you were a Pilchard, for instance, then to have the Tompot Blennies livibng next door would be as perfectly natural as having, say, The Smiths next door would be to a family of humans. Or would be if they hadn't split up. So; they're a duo from the Leicestershire/Derbyshire border country - Loughborough, Ilkeston... if you've ever driven up the A6 and turned right at Kegworth, you'll know where they're coming from. And if you've ever gone the other way, you'll know where they're going. Leicester. And they sound like... maybe early Microdisney, or Young Marble Giants, or The Field Mice circa Emaa's House... and the debut 7" EP, Thinking of Ways of Keeping You Warm, should be out late March, with a real tompot blenny onthe sleeve, just in case you didn't believe me. Though doubtless some of you will argue that it's just a red herring. (Send 2 pounds now and we'll send you a copy when it's ready - I'm afraid it doesn't qualify for the Sarah discounts on big 7" orders, though! Sorry!!!)
We also have another new band, Trembling Blue Stars, who, OK, arent actually new as such because it's Bob from The Field Mice/ Northern Picture Library now slimmed down to a one piece, which makes him sound a bit like a swimming costume but he's better than that honest. Recording will be finished by the end of February, so something should be out in April - a 7" (possibly Abba On the Jukebox) then an LP, and, oh, it's really varied, really fragile, and we think better than anything The Field Mice or NPL ever did.
And now we'll run through how the other bands are trying to pass what's left of their lives.
Heavenly are recording a new LP but waiting till its finished before deciding what to do with it, one of the tracks, however, will be appearing on a split single with Bis on K. K are also doing a complete Talulah Gpsh retrospective CD (singles and sessions) called Backwash - this will be licensed to Southern in the UK. And there's some Heavenly gigs,i:
Thu 18th Jan London, Upstairs at The Garage with Bis/Lungleg Fri 19th Jan Nottingham, The Narrowboat with Bis Sat 20th Jan Leeds, The Fenton with Bis Sat 3rd Feb Bristol, Hope Centre with Junkie(Secret Shine offshoot)
There's plans to for an International Pop Underground style all-dayer like they have in Olympia, only this one will be in, um, Oxford. Also, we mentioned before an American AIDS benefit CD Heavenlt were going to be on called Red Hot & Bothered, The Indie Rock Guide To Dating, and this is now out (on Kinetic), including also a track (Miracleland) by East River Pipe and a board game telling you how to have safe sex (use a condom and don't start till you've thrown a six seems to be the gist). Finally - Cathy's been moonlighting with various members of The McTells as Gilroy (rather unreasonably described by John Peel as a 'supergroup'), and they have a 7" EP (called Renaissance Girl) out now on Bi Joopiter (through SRD) or send UK2.50 to Bi-Joopiter, 2 Wentworth Road, Hertford, SG13 8JP, England, UK).
Blueboy have restructured themselves: they're now back to a duo of Keith and Paul. Because Keith reckoned that he'd reached his peak during the Sarah 100 performance (it's a shame we weren't watching) and that to prolong it further would just spoil it. Imagine you're making a meringue: you whip the egg-whites up to nice stiff peaks but then if you overwhip them they just go soft and useless; I presume that's what Keith had in mind. WHich reminds me: if you spotted the copy of US gay porn mag Blueboy lurking on the back cover of Sarah 99, you might like to know that the magazine was so, um, tickled by this that their March issue includes a photo of our Keith amid a motley array of pink bottoms and perky whatnots (sigh... I still regret not going to that party...) along with the by-line 'Britain has a new group who named themselves after their favourite manzine'. And if you're wondering how Blueboy (the magazine) found out about the band, blame Beth from Aberdeen, who often has to speak to the magazine's editor in the course of her dayjob. Two other Blueboy items: a performance artist in Australia is currently doing a show about River Pheonix which seems to involve much lipstick and audience abuse to the sound of Blueboy's River, and a magician in America wants them to compose the music to which he comes on stage and, presumably, saws people in half. Another job for Keith's magic wand, methinks (see above).
Continuing the theme of bands with members in unlikely places, those with nothing better to do at 5pm might have seen Nicola Boyracer playing bass for The Wedding Present on Ester. Curious. Though not as curious as Stewart's recent appearance on Oprah ('Thinks His record Label Doesn't Understand Him'). Boyracer themselves are off to Europe in March - Paris, Brussels and Holand - after which, having chucked in their jobs and signed to New York label Zero Hour (CD 'In Full Colour' out in April), they leave at the end of April for a two month US tour. We shall be there at the quayside to wave them off. Already there is small Boyracer shaped hole in our lives which will be hard to... oh phooey, of course there isn't. Though, what the good people of Leeds will do when they find they can no longer cup their hands round Stewart's lovely hot potatoes while he gives them the filling of their choice, Lord knows. Before licensing their souls to Uncle Sam, though, they did something quintessentially English; they recorded a version of OMD's Electricity (it's on a flexi free with VINYL copies of the We Are Made Of The Same Wood EP (Turntable friend/Slumberland) and thus invented Romo...
prompting Shelley to morph back into Orlando and, with a line-up of Tim, Dickon and two other blokes, provide the missing link between Ivor Cutler, ABC and Take That. Stephen and Simon, who remember being the two other blokes on-stage with Tim and Dickon supporting Blueboy in the pre-Shelley version of Orlando, seem vaguely bemuses to be reading about the band's 'debut' London shows.
Secret Shine have a new single out on Feb 25th on Bath label Spoiler, a 7" featuring Wasted Away and Wish Coming True - UK2.50 including p&p to Secret Shine, 10 Cossham Road, ST George, Bristol, BS5 8DL, England, UK, cheques payable to S. Purnell. (UK1.25 to the same address also gets you a copy of Scott's Suck fanzine/magazine). Should also be some gigs around that time. Elsewhere... Ivy are finally facing up to life's injustices and considering a name change... they also had a track on recent Noisebox sampler Now That's What I Call Noisebox, and should be recording an LP for them soon. The Hit Parade are doing some stuff with Ian Catt for Polystar, The Sweetest Ache have split and Stuart's working in Our Price in Bristol (though demo-ing new stuff back home in Wales) and The Harvest Ministers are doing news demos for Setanta - we also saw them play in Dublin, and went to a party with them which we assumed would be all drink and drugs and loud music and nude sardines but which actually turned out to be a group of people playing chess on someone's parents' patio. Life's a scary place at times.
Now; one question we're often asked is: 'Did Even As We Speak really all go back to Australia and fall down a large hole. or were you just making that up?' - and till now we've simply smiled enigmatically and tapped the sides of our noses. But now we must come clean and admit that we did make it up, as Mary and Anita have a track ona split EP out soon on Season Records. So there. The others? Oh, they all fell down a large hole. No, a different one.
Another much asked question is what were all those bloody tokens for? Well... this is a bit painful for us but... basically, it was all going to be part of a competition, to win a night out with the cat, in an alley behind the restaurant of your choice. You'd collect the tokens, then complete the sentence 'I would like to have abloody good time with the Sarah Cat because...'. Sadly, once the cat got wind... we threw her out, because there's nothing worse than a cat with wind, and, basically, she's not been seen since, and -
Actually, she disappeared the very day we announced the end of Sarh, we knew she was going to take it badly, but not that bad. That was also the day the computer finally packed-up and the roof blew off - not that we belive in omens or anything. It's very sad, almost like she never existed. Almost like we invented her.
Finally: yes, we are still selling Sarah stuff - but lots has sold out, even if only on certain formats - and a few things have reappeared - so please read the list carefully. And we've just paid UK50 to hire the PO Box for another year, so don't worry, letters will still reach us. And, for now, keep sending cheques made out to sarah Records. Even if you don't want anything.
Oh and let us know if you want to recieve more Shinkansen information in the future - our mailing list's getting a bit out of date and we don't know if some of you still exists.
SARAH RECORDS/SHINKANSEN PO BOX 691, BRISTOL, BS99 1FG, ENGLAND, UK