Well, we survived it. God knows how, with the computer system failures but we did it; we made it to the 21st Century. Not that it stopped mankind trying to find new ways of killing itself off.
By now most prophecies about music were proven untrue. Tapes didn’t kill off music but instead found themselves prey for other mediums. And despite the closed shop at the BBC, live performances didn’t signal the demise of Top of the Pops; the utter irrelevance of the charts and the music within it did a sterling job. Ed Sheeran just nailed the coffin lid firmly closed.
A similar thing happened with the Indie Charts, except it killed itself by being caught on the hop. We used to read NME, Melody Maker and Sounds religiously; Smash Hits and Record Mirror too, before they became twee and disappeared into the past.
There was a tribalism involved if you like. Was it judgmental? I suspect an element of that surfaced at various times, and still does to some extent. Which flies in the face of everything I hold dear; music is for all, just open your ears.
Back in 1980, the Indie Charts were issued for the first time. On 19th January 1980, the first Top 20 was:
|1||WHERE’S CAPTAIN KIRK?||SPIZZENERGI|
|2||DAYTRIP TO BANGOR||FIDDLERS DRAM|
|3||MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS||DELTA FIVE|
|5||CALIFORNIA UBER ALLES||DEAD KENNEDYS|
|7||EARCOM THREE (EP)||VARIOUS|
|8||WE ARE ALL PROSTITUTES||THE POP GROUP|
|10||SILENT COMMAND||CABERET VOLTAIRE|
|11||TAAGA (EP)||DANGEROUS GIRLS|
|12||BILL GRUNDY (EP)||TV PERSONALITIES|
|13||HE’S FRANK||MONOCHROME SET|
|14||SHEEP FARMING IN BARNET||TOYAH|
|15||YOU’VE NEVER HEARD…||FRESHMEN|
|16||I’M IN LOVE WITH MARGARET THATCHER||NOT SENSIBLES|
|17||FOUR A-SIDES||SCRITTI POLITTI|
|18||YOU CAN BE YOU||HONEY BANE|
|19||SID DID IT||NAZIES AGAINST FACISM|
|20||PEEL SESSIONS||SCRITTI POLITTI|
|23||SOLDIER SOLDIER- SPI||SPIZZENERGI|
|24||POPCORN BABY||ESSENTIAL LOGIC|
|26||KISS THE MIRROR||WALL|
|28||FIRST AND LAST||ART ATTAX|
|29||ADDICTS 4 TRACK (EP)||ADDICTS|
As I recall – and this was certainly the case in the mid-80s so I assume it was the case then – the record labels were listed beside them. If that information was available on the mainstream chart, I took not one blind bit of notice. On the indie chart, that was a different matter.
Labels such as Factory, Two Tone and Rough Trade automatically flagged a record as worth investigating but certainly with the latter, the breadth of their roster at the time rendered it a hit-and-miss business. Some labels I would avoid like the plague, seemingly safe in the knowledge that I wouldn’t like the music. Crass Records was one about which such logic applied; Honey Bane shot a hole in that logic.
But good things come to an end, and pop did indeed eat itself. Or rather become very confused. There always seemed some snobbery in what was classed an ‘indie label’ and I seem to recall Rough Trade getting into a spot of bother with Blanco y Negro, which effectively was a subsidiary of Warner Brothers; it redefined aspects of what constituted an indie record label. There was a bit of a hoo-haa about the Cartel initially but that quickly died.
PWL – Peter Waterman’s label – was the watershed for me personally with the indie chart. PWL were an independent label, there’s no question of that. A very successful one as well but the notion of a ‘music factory’ seemed contrary to the idea of an indie label. No sticking labels on records or posting records out from a dingy flat for them.
There was nothing unusual in hits being on the indie charts; Depeche Mode and New Order were regular visitors to the top spot while Fiddlers Dram in the first chart, along with Renee and Renato, as incongruous bedfellows as they may be, were on independent record labels. Where PWL took a difference was the spirit involved and that chipped away at the point of it all.
Kylie and Jason became regulars in the indie chart but when Bob the Builder appeared there, something was very wrong. The majors with subsidiaries who used independent distributors wrecked the philosophy entirely and the chart eventually disappeared.
There’s talk of resuscitating it; good luck if it works and the definition of what is independent will certainly be interesting. Whatever the outcome, there will be a little puritan tutting and shaking their head sadly. It’s what made the charts so much fun.
Let’s all meet up in the year 2000
Jarvis told us to and we did. Well, almost everyone turned up; apologies for no longer being with us were received from:
- Sir Stanley Matthews
- Sir Robin Day
- Paula Yates
- Sir John Gielgud & Dame Barbara Cartland. On the same day. It’s the plot of one of her books, isn’t it? “She loved him from afar, he died and she couldn’t go on”
- Sir Alec Guinness
- Kirsty MacColl
- Reggie Kray
- Roger Vadim
- Ernst Stavro Blofeld, or Charles Gray as his mum knew him
- Walter Mathau
- Jason Robards
- Ian Dury
|Angel Interceptor||The Solarflares|
|The Dap Dip||Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings|
|A Song For The Lovers||Richard Ashcroft|
|All You Fascists||Billy Bragg, Wilco|
|In Your Street (En Tu Calle)||Art School|
|I Need Direction||Teenage Fanclub|
|Tax the Churches||Don Dixon|
|With Time And Temperance||Paul Weller|
|The Mercy Seat||Johnny Cash|
|The Whores Hustle And The Hustlers Whore||PJ Harvey|
|Hello Operator||The White Stripes|
|Hard Time Killing Floor||R.L. Burnside|
|Up With People||Lambchop|
|Why Do Children Have to Die||Don Dixon|
|Ysbeidiau Heulog||Super Furry Animals|
|I Walk The Earth||King Biscuit Time|
|Dancing in the Moonlight||Toploader|
|Good Fortune||PJ Harvey|
|The Masses Against the Classes||Manic Street Preachers|
|Ysbeidiau Heulog||Super Furry Animals|
|The Town And The City||Teenage Fanclub|
|I’m Bound To Pack It Up||The White Stripes|
|Waiting for the Moon to Rise||Belle & Sebastian|
|Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang||Cinerama|
|Company Calls||Death Cab for Cutie|
|Night Vision – Feat. Isaac Hayes||Guru’s Jazzmatazz|
|Suburban Myth||Less Than Jake|
|Vinyl Crisis||Brooklyn Funk Essentials|
|Pick It Up, Lay It In The Cut||Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings|
|See What My Buddy Done||R.L. Burnside|
|Bloodsucker Blues||Jools Holland|
|Stetson Kennedy||Billy Bragg, Wilco|
|Sweet Sad Room||Elephant Band|