Various NME C86 Deluxe Edition
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The NME had released 22 promotional cassettes in the years leading up to 1986; the tape they released that year eclipsed what came before, and helped to define a sound and an era in British pop. The C86 cassette featured 22 bands ranging from the candied drug pop of Primal Scream with their classic "Velocity Girl" to the damaged art pop of Stump, the clattering noise of Big Flame, and the jangling indie pop that made up the majority of the tape (the Bodines, the Servants, the Soup Dragons). Even though the tape is quite diverse, this last sound is what people think of when they reference the C-86 style for better or for worse. The original tape is a thrilling, often transcendent (as on the Pastels' "Breaking Lines" or the Wedding Present's "This Boy Can Wait [A Little Longer!]") look at a very interesting moment in the U.K. pop timeline. Cherry Red's reissue adds two discs' worth of additional material to the original tape, sticking to the idea of showcasing a variety of sounds and styles. There is plenty of off-kilter noise and weirdo pop to go along with the tuneful jangle and wistful melancholy. The two discs add many familiar suspects from the era who weren't on the tape, such as the Primitives, the Weather Prophets, Razorcuts, Talulah Gosh, the Membranes, and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Picking less obvious songs from them, like JAMC's "Inside Me" and the Primitives' "Lazy," was a good move, as was digging deep to find bands that were second string at the time, but have stood the test of time quite well. Any comp that showcases tracks by bands like the Dentists, Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes, St. Christopher, the Claim, the Chesterf!elds, and Biff Bang Pow! is a comp worth checking out if you're interested in indie pop even a little bit, and the selections are uniformly excellent. It's also nice that the set includes a large number of tracks by bands that were beyond obscure at the time and are completely forgotten now. Hearing them, it's easy to see why they were below the radar, since their contributions pale next to the better-known groups. Still, many of them are interesting finds; Kilgore Trout's "The Peacock Nose" is a bracing slap of aggro-pop noise, the McTells' "Virginia M.C." sounds like Billy Childish's take on indie pop, North of Cornwallis' "Billy Liar" should have been released by Sarah Records, and the Love Act's bouncy "Hep Clothes" is loads of goofy fun. The original C86 tape was an unquestionable classic and worthy of purchase all on its own, and while the extra two discs don't quite hit classic status, they add some additional depth and dimension to the original set to help give a clearer, more expansive look at a pretty incredible year.