21.6.12

TH' FAITH HEALERS : Pop Song EP (Too Pure, 1990)

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Also-rans, I suppose... but Th' Faith Healers put out some cracking records in their time - churning, dog-eared post-shoegaze aggro-indie that, along with Loop & Stereolab, anticipated the current, ongoing vogue for Krautrock-indebted kosmiche chug by several years. TFH grappled with Soundtracks' "Mother Sky" as far back as 1992 - pre-dating Julian Cope's benchmark Krautrocksampler tome - not bad for a bunch of crumpled itinerants in baggy jumble sale jumpers, eh? Loop, of course, covered Can's magnum opus even earlier, on 1988's Black Sun EP - though their attempt is. characteristically, a far more academic affair, a sleek 2nd hand DeLorean compared to TFH's junkyard Vauxhall Viva. That said, though the former is an obsessively detailed recreation of the original, TFH's discordant, breakneck reinterpretation is much more fun.

Practitioners of the sadly forgotten Camden Lurch, & regulars at The White Horse's legendarily rowdy Sausage Machine club night, Th' Faith Healers ever-changing line-up revolved around singing guitarist Tom Cullinan (who'd go on to form Quickspace Supersport following TFH's demise) &, scruffy queen of catharsis, vocalist Roxanne Stephen. Initially signed to London's Too Pure label, along with the aforementioned 'Lab & an emerging P.J. Harvey, all 3 bands - in an unprecedented instance of American good faith in the English independent scene - would eventually acquire major label deals in the U.S. (Polly with Island, the other 2 with Elektra). Incidentally, it's a little known fact that Too Pure almost didn't release Polly's auspicious debut, Dry - faced with a crippling cash flow crisis, the label turned to 4AD's Ivo Watts-Russell, who stepped in & bailed them out at the last minute. When Too Pure ceased general trading in 2008, downsizing into a monthly subscription-only singles club, their roster was quietly assimilated into 4AD's.

The Pop Song 12", Th' Faith Healers unpolished 1990 debut, has always been my favourite of their many records, though none of them are clunkers (the band having had the common decency to split before things got predictable). In a stroke of non-fiscal lo-fi genius, they promoted the EP's release with a bespoke beermat. Beat that, hipsters.

4.6.12

THE BOMB PARTY : Ray Gun EP (Abstract Sounds, 1985)

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I saw The Bomb Party with alarming regularity back in the late '80s, often at Nottingham's semi-mythic Garage club - partly because, despite my tender age, I was already a vehement fan of scuzzy post-Stooges burlesque, but also (I suspect) because promoters here saw them as a "cheap date", due to their residing a mere 30 minutes away in neighbouring Leicester.

Absurd from the outset, The Bomb Party were always a highly amusing proposition, witty & self-parodic despite playing it entirely straight for the duration of their off-radar career in rock. Unperturbed, & possibly even exhilarated, by their shortage of obvious talent, their thunderous outbursts stood head, shoulders & stovepipe hat above anything else the dire "Grebo" scene - with which they were unfairly bracketed - threw up ("Threw up" being a rather fitting metaphor, of course). Crazyhead? Gaye Bykers On Acid? Gimme a break... Naming themselves after a little known Graham Greene novel, they debuted in 1985 with the gruff' 'n' ready Ray Gun EP, a 4-song 12" on Yorkshire's prolific Abstract Sounds (home also to The Three Johns, Janitors & the nascent New Model Army) - a minor masterpiece of licentious, tongue-in-cheek "gothabilly". John Peel pounced on the opening "Harry Was A Babysitter", & I fondly (if rather faintly) recall self-consciously tapping a winklepickered foot to it at any number of local "alternative" clubs, ensconced beneath the customary nest of jet black, violently backcombed hair. Zeitgeist, baby...

The band split in 1990, & God knows what became of them thereafter. Bleached bombshell bassist Sarah Corina joined (& still plays with) The Mekons, & has latterly moved into production (she recorded & engineered The Monochrome Set's current Platinum Coils LP), but the remaining members have all disappeared, even vocalist Andy "Jesus" Mosquera. It's slightly depressing to think of them, 25 years hence, as sober 50 year olds with careers, mortgages & families - if, of course, that's how things turned out? If your neighbourhood butcher, tobacconist or, indeed, drug dealer is an ex-member of this illustrious leather-clad combo, perhaps you could let me know?