Wednesday 19 June 2019

Jeanines album

This is a story about pop music and its essence. Last Friday, the record shop had 4 albums fresh out the box I was interested in: Bruce Springsteen, Bill Callahan, Neil Young and Jeanines. Reader, I bought just the Jeanines.

The others were all £25. Jeanines was half that price. There was a thing in the 1980s about 7” singles being the pop music ideal and 12” singles were a rip off. This was obviously an indie-centric argument - the public demand for Public Enemy and A Guy Called Gerald singles on 7” was low.

The vinyl size format argument was lost, or its importance diminished, because tapes in the mid 80s outsold vinyl on album, then CDs by 1989 outsold vinyl and tapes together on album. Singles weren’t that important to the industry, even though they remained crucial to indie labels and bands as often the only format they’d release. And that would be on vinyl.

CDs were phenomenally expensive. Now vinyl is. The market for CD albums in the late 80s is the same as for vinyl now: wealthier adults. And the commercial impulse from big labels is the same: raise the margins on heritage music acts’ releases by marketing it as a status product. A London record shop owner told me recently that the high price on new releases he stocks is down to labels raising the dealer price. Pure profiteering.

The 1980s argument for 7” singles largely centred on the tenets of pop music being cheap and disposable, the thrills renewed every week with a new purchase.

Jeanines make exactly that kind of thrilling, disposable pop music. I’m uncertain if I’ll be playing this excellent album in two weeks’ time, but I’ll remember it fondly. Will there be something as good to replace it? I can only dream.

It sounds like 1980s indiepop (The Siddeleys cover isn’t an accident), and slightly later acts, particularly Go Sailor and Heavenly: route one jangle, sharp, simple and effective with inventive, playful basslines. It’s bright and immediate enough to win over fans from outside the indiepop scene.

I don’t know how many pop fans have bought this on vinyl. The label Slumberland has done everything it can - a coloured vinyl import for £12.50? Don’t expect there’ll be a profit there. It’ll be even cheaper in the US.

The romance of this release is that it’s a musical throwback that sounds fresh and is priced affordably. Many of the 16 songs complete their business in 90 seconds and some wrap up everything in under a minute. Its built-in obsolescence is at odds with Springsteen’s expensive string arrangements, a record that sounds like it was made to last or, possibly, not be laughed at.

Albums by heritage rock artists are released on vinyl to make hefty profits and for people to take seriously. They’re really making a case for the CD revival. This Jeanines record has been released to make people happy. Job done.

Saturday 8 June 2019

Peter Perrett interview

Last time Halley's Comet came whizzing down from the heavens, Perrett was sitting on it.
NME, 8 February 1992

Johnny Thunders said to me, 'If you fitted in more then you could make it easy.' But I've never liked conforming to anything.

By the time I was 5 I could do simple algebra which meant I knew more than the teacher. I used to correct the teacher.