James were a band who’s career fluctuated hugely. Their debut, single, ‘Jimone EP’ was released on Factory Records and then they had taken a year to follow it up. They toured with The Smiths and then had disputes with various labels and releases got delayed. I had been into them since seeing them support The Smiths at Guildford Civic Hall in 1985 and kept up with their releases and gigs. The size of venue they played was erratic too. I had last seen them at the Dominium in London in March, a few months earlier. This time they played two sold out nights at a far smaller venue, The Marquee. What I’d heard of their new music was fantastic.
They were absolutely brilliant. Could this, at last, be their breakthrough?
James, The Marquee 4th July.
Dele Fadele ‘N.M.E.’ review was raving –
‘Tonight is a big chance to showcase material for an up-coming LP. And what an unqualified success it is….The promised land is too far away to wait on your arse for. It’s time for agitation again and James will be our guides.’
July – Fears of a property market downturn are heightened when it is reported that many homeowners looking to move are cutting the asking price of their homes by up to 20% in an attempt to speed up the sale of their property, following the property boom of the last 3 years where the price of many homes doubled at the very least.
I had a few really good nights at The Rock Garden in July.
7th July Kitchens of Distinction
The Kitchens of Distinction were signed to the same label as The Sugarcubes – One Little Indian. They were from Tooting, South London and their debut album had just been released, it included this wonderful single:
11 July – Britain’s dock workers go on strike in protest against the abolition of the Dock Labour Scheme.
12th July The Real Sounds of Africa
The Real Sounds of Africa were an 11-piece band based in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare and consisting entirely of Zairean musicians. They toured Europe 1986, and the following year, The South Bank Show, made a documentary about them. This was shown at the same time as their debut album was released on Cooking Vinyl Records. They came over for a few dates in 1989 and I was lucky enough to get them.
I was still on the look out for a band to sign to our label. A demo from Stoke on Trent arrived. The band were called The Ruby Tuesdays and I was excited as soon as I read their letter and put the tape on. I gave them a gig and invited Danny, John and Sally along to see if we thought they were right for our label.
19th July The Ruby Tuesdays – The Rock Garden.
They were perfect. The four of us were very happy. We started to get a plan together for the band to record and put an October release date in the diary.
Once again my friend Clare P. struck gold with theatre tickets. Daniel Day-Lewis ‘Hamlet’ at The National. Intense and incredible. Clare actually went a second time – the night that Daniel Day-Lewis left the stage mid-performance, never to return. He was quoted at the time as saying he had seen the ghost of his own father, but now says, ‘I had to leave the stage because I was an empty vessel. I had nothing in me, nothing to say, nothing to give.’
Here’s a photo of the Boys Own party in East Grinstead, summer of 1989, thanks to Dave Swindles for letting me use it. That’s Kev, bottom right, smoking. We weren’t at this one, but it’s where Bobby Gillespie and other members of Primal Scream, tracked Andy Weatherall down for the first time, after he gave their second album a good review in the Boys Own fanzine.
25 July – The Princess of Wales opens the Landmark Aids Centre, a day centre for people with AIDS, in London.
A couple of local band nights, or ‘Buzz Fest‘ – 28th and 29th at The Buzz Club.
We went up to Stoke to meet with The Ruby Tuesdays in early August. Everything was discussed and agreed and we advanced them £350 to go into the studio to record four songs, for an e.p..
While the band were recording, Danny and I took ourselves away from an extremely lively time in London up to one of the quietest places on earth – the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. We stayed with my parents for a week, they were on holiday there already. We got the train up to Glasgow, then Oban and then a six hour ferry journey. Barra is in my very being, my Dad was brought up there and as a family we went pretty much every summer. My Dad had bought and done up a few abandoned crofts on the island and let them out as holiday rentals. This year though, we stayed in a friend’s house on a part of the island we hadn’t stayed at before. Cleat, with one of Barra’s stunning beaches a short walk away. Even with all this breath taking beauty on our door step, we couldn’t wait to get back to London! There was a ceilidh on the beach the evening we left, with my Dad playing the bagpipes. We waved our goodbyes and headed to Castlebay to get the ferry and start the very long journey back down south.
When we returned, The Ruby Tuesdays recordings had been completed and we were delighted with the results. Sally and the band began discussing artwork and Danny organised a distribution deal through APT.
I sent our friend the fantastic photographer, Tim Paton up to Stoke to get some pics. He did a brilliant job.
18 August – Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards agrees to sell the club to Michael Knighton for £10million.
20 August – 51 people are killed in the Marchioness disaster.
On 23rd August we saw The Sandkings at Dingwalls. I loved the 12″ ‘Hope Springs Eternal‘. Played it and jumped around the flat to it on many an occasion. Singer, Jas Mann was jumping around to it on stage and banged his head on one of the metal bars on the low ceiling at Dingwalls, it always makes me smart when I hear it now! Jas formed Babylon Zoo and had a number one with the Levis advert song ‘Spaceman’ in 1995.
Danny was working at Mayking Records in Battersea, a vinyl, cd and tape manufacturing company. They shared the building with and were part owners of, One Little Indian Records.The Sugarcubes were second from top on the Friday night of the Reading Festival, with New Order headlining. Danny was able to get us both on the guest list. We went down after work and caught both bands. (The last time we had seen The Sugarcubes had been in San Diego the year before). and New Order. My first time at the Reading Festival. We only did the Friday night.
25th August New Order and The Sugarcubes – Reading Festival
2 September – Economy experts warn that a recession could soon be about to hit the United Kingdom. This would be the second recession in a decade.
From backstage at the Reading Festival to the Camden Falcon the next day to see our old label boss and all round inspiration Dan Treacy with his band, The Television Personalities 26th August.
September 9th The Buzz Club – The Perfect Disaster
The Perfect Disaster were from London and featured Phil Parfitt as guitarist, singer.
They signed to Fire Records and released the album ‘Up’ in 1989. They released four albums in total, before splitting in 1991. They had quite a few members join and leave during their time, with Phil Parfitt being the only constant member. Josephine Wiggs left the band to join Kim Deal in The Breeders just after their Buzz Club appearance.
The Perfect Disaster toured with The Jesus and Mary Chain to promote ‘Up’.
After the split, Phil Parfitt worked with Jason Pierce from Spiritualized and later recorded as Oedipussy with Terry Bickers of The House of Love and Levitation.
12 September – 19,000 ambulance crew members across Britain go on strike.
19th September The Ruby Tuesdays – The Band on the Wall, Manchester
The band had got this gig themselves and John organised a review in ‘Melody Maker‘. We all drove up for the gig and stayed over night at the band’s manager’s house. Their first review, a month before the e.p. even came out!
Danny had got The Ruby Tuesdays 12″ pressed and we had white labels to start sending around. A release date was set for October 16th.
27th September The Snapdragons – The Rock Garden
One of Charlie Myatt‘s bands, I later booked them for The Buzz Club too. Signed to Native Records (The Darling Buds / Treebound Story) and had a well received Peel session under their belts.
28th September James / The Band of Holy Joy – T&C2
We ended the summer as we started the summer – by seeing James. My main memory of this gig was ‘James are too good’. Their sound was so full and their large line up seemed crammed onto a stage much smaller than they should be playing. This was a special gig ‘Carry On Disarming‘ to promote the CND video they had contributed to. It had sold out and could have done twice over.
‘With the Inspirals about to release their 17th indie hit this year and The Stone Roses about to gatecrash the National top 20, Tim Booth must feel like he’s the only pop star in Manchester who still has to catch the bus around town.’ Bob Stanley ‘Melody Maker’ review above.