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Tuesday 2 April 2024

Everybody Knows

Drop Out, the only album recorded by London band East Village originally came out in 1993, slightly too late for the group. It got lost in the rush of early Britpop but were a little too late for the Manchester tidal wave of 1989- 1991. Circles came out on 122 in 1990 but then nothing until '93. The four piece came together in High Wycombe and moved to London, two brothers Martin and Paul Kelly on bass and guitar, John Wood (also guitar) and Spencer Smith on drums. All three guitarists wrote songs and sang and their mid- 80s indie origins show the twin influences of the Creation bands (Felt, The Loft and The Weather Prophets especially) and mid 60s folk rock (The Byrds, Dylan, Buffalo Springfield). There's some love for Postcard in their too. It's since been re- issued several times, most recently earlier this year by Heavenly to mark its thirtieth anniversary (expanded with all the singles and their B-sides and a Jon Savage essay in the sleeve notes, always a mark of quality). 

The songs speak for themselves, beautifully played and balanced. It's got minor classic and lost gem written all over it, songs that have endured and still have the power to move. Silver Train rattles along like mid 60s Bob Dylan doing his thin, wild mercury sound, the guitars and organ carrying things along with a bubbling bassline pushing through. Circles surges in waves of guitars. Shipwrecked is two and a half minutes of romantic early 90s indie. Everybody Knows is led by sparkling, ringing, descending minor chords and sweetly sung words. 

Everybody Knows

East Village called it a day after Drop Out came out. John Wood released a a solo album a decade later and went to teach in China. Paul Kelly makes films and works as a designer. Martin Kelly worked alongside Jeff Barratt at Heavenly and became Saint Etienne's manager while both Paul and Spencer became part of the Saint Etienne live band. Much of the East Village sound and appeal is very Saint Etienne. 


Nick L said...

Great post Adam, when you look back and see what other bands made a bigger breakthrough at the time it's pretty baffling why East Village were to remain a footnote. They had great tunes, were a good live band and looked cool as well. Never knew John Wood made a solo album, I'd like to hear that if it's not too hard to track down.

Anonymous said...

I’m a sucker for these guys. I just keep buying the reissues over and over again. - Brian

Swiss Adam said...

Every few years they come bubbling back up and then resurface.