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Saturday 2 March 2024

V.A. Saturday

In August 1988 Creation Records released a fifteen track compilation called Doing It For The Kids, a summary of the label's then roster and a statement of intent, with a sticker on the front reading 'An LP for the price of a 7" single'. Doing It For The Kids is one of the definitive statements of that scene and period, as much as any record from the summer of '88 that has guitars at its core. You wouldn't guess from listening to it that the musical world was changing, there is no hint of the Summer Of Love, acid house, Detroit techno, Screamadelica, The Roses and the Mondays within it's grooves. Doing It For The Kids is Creation in all its pre- acid house indie glory, all winkle pickers and black leather, feedback and 60s guitars, groups that are quintessential Creation bands, that lived, gigged and released records entirely within that world- The Jasmine Minks, The Weather Prophets, The Jazz Butcher and Biff Bang Pow all appear, Alan McGee and Richard Green selecting the then best songs these groups had written and recorded. Felt's Ballad Of The Band is up there with that band's best songs. Primal Scream's All Fall Down is as good as any of the songs from their indie phase. Along with My Bloody Valentine (represented here by the mighty, head spinning Cigarette In My Bed), Primal Scream would go onto to bigger things sooner or later. 

The House Of Love's Christine is the opener to their debut Creation album, a perfect three and a half minutes marriage of Guy Chadwick's classicist songwriting and Terry Bickers' guitar playing. They wouldn't last the course, throwing everything into a big money deal that never really worked out for them. Briefly, in this pre- Manchester indie summer world (Bummed came out in November 1988, Made Of Stone in March '89), they looked like the future. The sound Bickers' gets in the intro, that insistent, drilling guitar noise, is worth the price of admission along, never mind the sigh as the chords and Guy Chadwick's voice descend in the 'and the whole world dragged us down' part and the subsequent rise as he grits his teeth to song the song's title.  


Heidi Berry and Nicki Sudden both stand out from the indie guitar boys. Heidi's songwriting and folk styles saw her release albums on Creation and 4AD. She had connections with the Creation massive, Pete Astor and Martin Duffy played on her two Creation albums, Firefly and Beneath The Waves. North Shore Train is a piano and cello song, reflecting Heidi's love of Nick Drake and Sandy Denny.

North Shore Train

Nicki Sudden was in post punk band Swell Maps with his brother Epic Soundtracks. Nicki 's solo career saw him zig and zag through the 80s, the records of Johnny Thunders never far away. He recorded with Mike Scott, members of R.E.M. and Rowland S. Howard. Sadly Nicki died in 2006 aged just 49. 

Death Is Hanging Over Me

Side Two drifts about, collating the outliers in the Creation team- Pacific (with Jetstream, a song about the sinking of the Belgrano by the Thatcher government), a group that hint at the electronic sounds coming just around the corner, Momus (a one man Pet Shop Boys- the song on Doing It For The kids is A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy Parts 17- 24, a rather brilliant song), the lo fi, DIY Reflect On Rye by Emily and finally Brighter Now by Razorcuts, one of those songs that is tailor made for homemade compilation tapes, lovingly complied for prospective girlfriends/ boyfriends, twelve string acoustic guitars, reverb and wistful vocals.

Brighter Now

Creation knew exactly what they doing in August 1988, a fifteen song summation of what made the label great, singles and songs pulled together that balance and complement each other, songs that push and pull, available at a budget price. Cramming fifteen songs onto two sides of vinyl may not have made for sonic perfection but that didn't really matter- these songs weren't made for audiophiles or high end equipment. A pretty much perfect V.A. compilation. 


Khayem said...

A great compilation to revisit, Adam, my proper introduction to Creation and many of the bands within. Beggars Banquet’s One Pound Ninety-Nine from a few years before may have been the same price, with better known artists, but this one is undeniably more important. And the cover image is indelibly etched in my mind.

There’s a fascinating review of the “all-dayer” gig that accompanied the album release by Simon Reynolds. “Primal Scream’s moment has long passed”. Little did he - or we - know what was around the corner for the band and the label…


Swiss Adam said...

That's a fascinating piece of writing by Simon Reynolds, so of its time. You're right about the cover art too, very memorable- Warhol- esque.

JC said...

Like many others mentioned over on your FB feed, this compilation happened to be my introduction to Momus, and so I'll always be grateful. I ended up buying this on CD a few years later, and such was the improvement in sound quality from the vinyl that I ended up sending the turntable, and all the things that made it work, to my parents who kindly stored it in the loft for me as I was convinced it would only be CDs for ever more.

Got that wrong.

Lovely write-up. Ballad of The Band is such a tremendous song.

Swiss Adam said...

Ballad of the Band is superb isn't it, a real 80s indie gem.