Limited edition,gatefold sleeve,die cast,handpainted,numbered sleeve,promo only,exclusive b-side,live b-side,white vinyl,clear vinyl,pink,blue,green,brown,splattered glittered vinyl. Free postcard, free badge, etched disc,pictured disk. The indie single. don’t you just love it?
Like a fondness for bitter and daydreamy women, the indie single came into my life aged 15 and refused to leave. As much as I appreciate books, cinema, art etc., nothing makes time stand still like the two seconds of the needle hitting the 7” and the blast of the genius awaits. From the call to arms of a Sex Pistols 45 to the warm cuddle of a Morrissey b-side, no art form delivers its message as effectively as the short-sharp-shock of a well made 7” single. Nothing. Im still taken with the idea behind Start! By the jam. The fact that a whole manifesto can be delivered to a whole country -the whole world-by sitting in your room and putting a record on.
Indie singles took off in 1986,after the release of the NME’s legendary C86 cassette tape. Young music fans, bored with the faux glamour say-nothing stylised fuckwits typified by bores like Duran Duran and Wham! Et al, decided to form their own bands and write their own songs. With a Tory assisted 3 million people unemployed, there was plenty of time to practise. But what to do about a chart filled with synthesised poseurs and the unsympathetic ears of Stock, Aitken and Waterman? Easy. Beg, steal, borrow the cash to release the record yourselves. Labels like Glasgows Postcard records and Bristols Sarah records, released limited runs(usually between 50-100) of brilliantly catchy, cheaply recorded 7” singles. Full of wit, heart, and humour, with a knowing eye towards socialism and a die hard, almost punk, DIY ethic, where records not just to play,but to pull to your chest like badge of honour. At last, here were records you could actually LOVE. Take, for example, Velocity Girl by Primal Scream. Long before their, strutty, stones-y riffing incarnation, they released a single of such pure, sugar rushing perfection, it was almost instantly stolen by Stone Roses for Made of Stone. Almost no-one bought it, but those who did were smitten. Thus, the indie cult of cult over cash, heart of chart ethos was born.
I knew I was an indie boy when a single I bought, aged 15, called Leave them all behind by an Oxford band called Ride made it in to the top 40. In the pre-Oasis days of indie,the was heady stuff. I felt,by just making a self conscious purchase from Rainbow records, I had somehow helped a mini revolution. I wasn’t far wrong. The celebratory appearance on Top Of The Pops followed. I sat watching those skinny lads with fringes of pure perfection belt out that intoxicating, daydreamy, lemon and honey soaked racket in awe. It sounded like a dream carved from mercury.“whats this shit?” my dad said
“he needs to get his hair cut. Lout”. it was a perfect, perfect, perfect pop moment. The next day I bought Animal Nitrate by Suede in my school uniform. There was no turning back now.