heard on the wire

On with the brass band, boring Norwich disco

Love on the terraces / Serious Drinking

Brian McCloskey is from Derry, lives in California and is one of the most important people on the internet. For the past two years he has been scanning and consequently preserving his collection of Smash Hits magazines, starting with the first issue from November 1978.

I mention this for several reasons. Any contemporary fan of late-70s and 80s pop will have been a Smash Hits reader and is doubtlessly Googling said archive at this very moment; someone might have a dusty collection of Flexipop mags and be inspired; and it makes for hugely entertaining reading, particularly the review sections.

The most recently scanned issue is a case in point. On the one hand single reviewer Dave Rimmer delights in Musical Youth’s brilliant Pass the Dutchie; on the other he laments The Jam’s Bitterest Pill, insisting that Paul Weller ”can do better”. Sorry Dave, but it was pretty much downhill from there.

But Weller gets off lightly. Pity poor “Low Countries Joy Division impersonators” Minny Pops.

A dull, descending baseline, tuneless vocals and unimaginative drum machine beat…. I don’t wish to be racist [sic], but one [sic] does get the impression that every would-be pop star in Belgium wanders round with furrowed brow imagining themselves to be Deep and Meaningful [sic].”

I’m glad he cleared that up. Thirty years later it’s inconceivable that anyone would have included Secret Story in a list of songs from each year of their life, isn’t it?

Instead they would probably have opted for the debut single by Serious Drinking, who eschewed Low Country miserabilism in favour of pop songs about football, drinking and TV. All of which had long ago brought them to the attention of John Peel and thence to mine.

The band formed in February 1981, most of them having met at that hotbed of indie talent, the University of East Anglia. The debut single, the still evocative Love on the Terraces, played a not insignificant part in my introduction to and integration into university life, since its references to Norwich City didn’t go unnoticed by my Canaries-supporting and year-ahead-of-me neighbour.

It presaged a debut long player, The Revolution Starts at Closing Time, that featured homages to the BBC World Service, angry bastards, Bobby Moore, Bilko and The Undertones. Enough said, as they say.

Serious Drinking :: Love on the Terraces

Audio MP3

Serious Drinking :: Winter’s Over

Audio MP3

Serious Drinking :: Bobby Moore Was Innocent

Audio MP3

Serious Drinking :: The Revolution Starts at Closing Time

Audio MP3

I wonder what Dave Rimmer thinks.


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