Do you ever stumble across an old band and not know they’re an old band? I heard Denim‘s 1992 single I’m Against The Eighties about a week ago (Well, not a week ago but… Spacetime lah de dah) and formed all sorts of ideas in my head.
Ideas about what a new young indie band would want to be doing by going about sounding like a pub circuit Bryan Ferry Tribute Act. Why they would be making complex retro glam rock that calls out the era of pop that appears to have been enshrined in a retro protective force field. A memory charm that makes the wretched era look like it was all jolly japes and home spun invention. A lie retold until it is truth, when actually it was a cesspit of corporate take overs and soap stars singing karaoke dross that tried very hard to expunge any form of fringe culture for the best part of an entire decade.
Then I had an itch in the back of my neocortex. Still I wandered about humming parts of the song. I recalled the event we put on in the pub I worked in in the early to mid 90’s called The 80’s Were Shit And Don’t You Forget It.
It was a game attempt to get more bodies through the emerging new music venues doors on a Thursday night where we had failed to secure a band. We were in a university town and had noticed that while the dust had barely settled on the decade of Reagan and Thatcherism the clubs and discos were doing brisk business with retro themed nights. Britpop was gathering pace but wasn’t quite teatime news worthy yet. We needed to try and get these kids to come to our venue and spend that student grant money on our pound a pint lager on a night of the week where it looked like we might not cover the staff’s wages.
I’m Against The Eighties the song is a bit of a mash up of ideas. It’s got a standard synth driven pop rock song at it’s core. There’s a bit of a Cockney Rebel vibe and as it turns out the bloke from post punk legends Felt, (his name is) Lawrence (single name like Madonna) behind it as a mastermind. Not that you’d know that hearing it on the radio in 2021. It’s got three minutes of string driven luxury pop tacked on the back and some pub rock jam band spirals that take it into a minute long fade out.
At The 80’s Were Shit And Don’t You Forget It we played only the bands we liked from that era and all those in attendance had a wild time dressing up as The Cure, Guns N’Roses and Strawberry Switchblade. We played zero SAW or TV Star drivel. The crowd were bemused by the burning of effigies of New Kids On The Block and the smashing of singles from the jukebox that didn’t pass muster. In fairness it probably wasn’t a good idea to let Gary and Titch drink for free and compere the evening while dressed as The Krankies.
Turns out, Denim have long been inactive. Three irony dripping albums were released between ’92 and ’97. Each of which comically featured the bands name in their title. Debut album Back In Denim gifted us this little gem as it’s closing track. Far from the Lo-Fi quick and dirty Felt were famous for, this album bankrupted it’s label before it was released. It sounds huge and unique and different in 2021. With almost 30 years of hindsight it is clear the role it would have played in the development of the Suede’s, Pulp’s, Blur’s and Supergrasses of the emerging scene. A paving stone for the 90’s to really happen.
The theme night in the pub was a one off event. A new sprinkler system did get installed as a result and Thursday nights became the simpler titled Student Night with cheap beer and a 90’s only DJ (ME!). Those nights became the beginnings of a scene that would endure until the building was pulled down.
It’s worth mentioning Go-Kart Mozart was Lawrence’s next attempt at a pop revolution. The Springsteen reference aside it was a 21st century take on indie without the pressure of even trying for a hit single. Go-Kart Mozart are a band that would record only B-Sides. I like this guy.