Sunday 8 September 2013

A Scene In Between

Ever since since Sam Knee of the excellent Leaders of Men blog put out the call for contributions to a proposed photo book on the fashions of the 80s independent pop groups, I've been keen to see if it actually came to fruition and, if so, just what unseen images he was able to turn up.  Excitingly, A Scene In Between has become a reality and will be published via Cicada Books next month (October 2013).  Thrillingly, it has turned out wonderfully.  Mind you, the signs were good.  First, a couple of pictures of Sarah RecordsThe Sea Urchins looking precocious but stylish surfaced on the blog.  They were an unexpected delight and confirmed that the book wouldn't just focus on the big groups of era such as The Smiths or Orange Juice but would also devote space to some of the less well known but no less brilliant acts.  Then uploaded the fantastic cover image, above.  The skinny guy in drainpipes and needle-toed boots (who I now know to be Robert Hampson of Loop) could have crawled, blinking under his enviably thick mop from the Pebbles Trash Box and was the very epitome of 60s punk cool.  Having now seen a finished copy in PDF form, those old feelings of historical jealousy that I've written about before have resurfaced.  How I would love to have been precocious enough, hip enough and had money enough (I certainly didn't have any of that in the 80s!) to have been going to gigs and buying records and fanzines in that period. The classic pictures of The Pastels, The Clouds, Meat Whiplash (!)Primal Scream, The Vaselines etc. simply hammer home the point that something great was going on just 25 miles up the road while I was still kicking a football around at the local estate of an evening.  There are so many great pictures to pore over.  A big favourite is the shot of Southend-on-Sea indie scenester Velda Pond in her room looking every inch the beehived, prospective 60s pop starlet as Johnny Rotten stares out from her wall.  Another is the endearing one of Felt's Philip King clad in a thick-striped top writing thoughtfully on a notepad while a teddy bear - also, sweetly, in stripes - looks off into the distance, seemingly pondering the words being penned.  As a Pastels obsessive, the photos from Stephen Pastel's archive are manna from heaven, particularly the live image of the group with Jill and Rose from Strawberry Switchblade on backing vocals.  Dave Conway's early My Bloody Valentine pictures showcase a group whose haircuts could give The Gruesomes a run for their money (see, too, The Wylde Things).  Conway, along with Stephen Pastel, Amelia Fletcher and outfitter Lloyd Johnson are interviewed.  I'm saving these for when I have the physical book in my hands.  They're bound to give even more colour to the period.  I know I'm biased as I fit squarely into this book's target market but if the thought of a book that, as Sam Knee puts it in his intro, "sets out to excavate the sartorial treasures of this UK indie youth scenery spanning; Postcard via Whaam! and Creation records, C86, garage punk, shoegaze and the multifarious micro sub-scenes that sprouted in between" raises your pulse even a tiny amount, then A Scene In Between must be considered  a mandatory purchase.  Sensibly, it'll be retailing at the modest 15 pound mark and there's talk of a launch shindig at Mono some time in October.  I really hope it happens as I'd love to congratulate Sam Knee in person for having the vision, drive and above all the love for his subject to turn a great idea into a beautiful artefact.  Let's hope now that the Sarah Records book and documentary and the Sound of Young Scotland documentary currently in the works turn out so well.


  1. might interest you Paul xx

  2. Hey thanks for the link - looks right up my street!

    By the way, "Andy Watch Out!" has been on my wants lists for ages. I only have it on a Topplers cd. You don't happen to have any copies for sale do you?

    cheers, brogues