Just as a quick disclaimer, I am not sharing any part of the newly released Scared to Get Happy compilation box set on Cherry Red Records. Onto the text.
When it rains, it pours, and this is the type of torrential onslaught that only comes once every ten years or so. In 2005 the honors went to Rhino Records Children of Nuggets four disc box, which focused on the creme de la creme of (mostly) American bands with psyche/garage tendencies, primarily taking root in the '80s and thus updating the template accordingly. For the last eight years I've deemed Children of Nuggets to be the most delightful various artists box set to sink it's teeth into the market...but this month it just got bested. Not by another Nuggets compilation, rather Scared to Get Happy, a mondo five CD extravaganza, strictly dedicated to obscurish indie UK guitar pop hopefuls spanning 1980-89. 134 of them to be exact! If you've already caught wind of this six hour long collection, chances are you were already familiar with some of the heavy hitters: Primal Scream, House of Love, Mighty Lemon Drops, Jesus and Mary Chain, Dentists, Primitves, etc... However in putting this together, Cherry Red dug waaaaay deeper stretching it's reissue-happy tentacles into the realms of labels like Sarah, Midnight, Postcard, not to mention a myriad of DIY imprints. The roster is as impressive to look as listen to. Scared... harkens back to the Smiths era of Britpop, when romantic ruminations, nervous energy and homespun moxie were spun into chiming, two-and-a-half minute surges of heart and soul.
So what's the deal with this post? With a compilation that's exhaustive enough to include the likes of the Siddeleys and the Suede Crocodiles you'd think Cherry Red had all the bases covered...and to great extent they do. But hypothetically, what if I were to construct a sixth CD of equal worthiness? Here is my meager attempt at stringing together a "companion" album to an already bustling box set. Though I can't say there were a terrific number of glaring omissions, there were at least three I couldn't quite rationalize, specifically the Field Mice, Candy Skins, and the Outskirts. For the Field Mice I opted to go with a demo take of a song that later wound up on the band's Skywriting compilation. I thought the Outskirts insidiously catchy "Blue Line" (later covered by Let's Active) would have also made for an apt fit, as would the Candy Skin's "She Blew Me Away," sounding like the sweetest thing Tommy Keene never busted out. That leaves another nineteen StGH worthy nuggets including longtime favorite tracks of mine by James Dean Driving Experience, Church Grims, North of Cornwallis, Hey Paulette, Stray Trolleys (incognito Martin Newell of Cleaners From Venus), the Visitors, among a bevy of other unknown quantities from the British Isles. If you like what you hear, don't deprive yourself of obtaining the smashing box set that inspired this mix! Amazon UK has the best deal of all the retailers I investigated, and it's an absolute must have. The addendum track list is as follows:
01. Visitors - Goldmining 02. Moss Poles - Go Down 03. Remember Fun - Train Journeys 04. Field Mice - I Thought Wrong (Run away) (demo) 05. The Church Grims - Plaster Saint 06. Candy Skins - She Blew Me Away 07. Outskirts - Blue Line 08. Various Artists (the band) - Original Mixed Up Kid 09. North of Cornwallis - Billy Liar 10. Hellfire Sermons - Rachel Clean 11. Potting Sheds - Happy Again 12. The Perfect Disaster - Call it a Day 13. Hey Paulette - I Really Do Love Penelope 14. Jane From Occupied Europe - Ocean Run Dry 15. James Dean Driving Experience - Drop Dead Darling 16. The Rose Of Avalanche - Always There 17. Power of Dreams - The Jokes On Me (demo) 18. Palisades - Knight in Gale 19. This Scarlet Train - Picture Frame 20. St. Christopher - Even The Sky Seems Blue 21. Stray Trolleys - Secret Dreams Of A Kitchen Porter 22. extra special mystery bonus track