There was a brief period at the tail end of the ’80s when two music cultures collided to create an exciting new sub-genre. Partly brought on by Happy Mondays’ in-print enthusing of Detroit techno and partly by the Stone Roses’ approach of playing dance music before they took to the stage, a movement of youth who’d lapped up their own Stones and Beatles dared to cross the divide between guitars and grooves and, arms aloft and flying high, wholeheartedly embraced the best of both scenes. In Irvine’s Attic, you could dance yourself dizzy to Pacific State and State Of The Nation in the same thrilling ten minute sequenced spell, our own Saturday night fever soundtrack that was absolutely replicated in provincial towns up and down the country.
The bands that sprung up around this ideal took the cross-pollination of clashing cultures and ran with it, for as long as the record companies were happy to throw their money northwards in the vain hope they’d land themselves another Mondays or Roses. Some of the acts – The Charlatans, obviously, broke out in their own right. Some of the others had one or two good songs, one great song, even – The High’s Box Set Go, Mock Turtles’ Can You Dig It – and some of the acts might even have managed to squeeze out a decent album – World Of Twist’s kaleidoscopic and swirling Quality Street springs to mind, but many of them burned briefly then fizzled out, shrinking back to the suburbs as the dirty exhaust fumes of American grunge spewed forth in Nirvana’s Converse-trod trail. ‘Baggy’ or ‘Madchester’ (eugh) or ‘Indie Dance’ was, then, a placeholder in time…but those great songs live on.
The best of all is arguably Paris Angels‘ All On You (perfume). A track, I think, rather than a song, it magpies the best of everything into one era-defining single that still thrills over 30 years later. Take a monochromed Curtis-ish vocal and team it with the sort of girlish adlib that’s floated straight off an anonymous house stomper. Stick them atop some chiming, Marr-esque guitars. Throw some sequenced acidy squelches across it and then polish the whole thing to a see-your-face-in-it brilliance; All On You (perfume) is a proper rush.
Paris Angels – All On You (perfume) – with added John Peel at the end.
Quite how they managed to sow the shiny seeds of All On You from the unholy clatter that represented the band’s sound at the time must be down to the producer, so kudos to Michael Johnson (engineer on no less than Blue Monday) for coaxing such an airbrushed sound from the band’s grizzled indie.
The band’s roots are easy to identify from the swirling slab of industrial Mancunian twist and shout below. Very of its time, it rattles and ricochets like a stretching out ACR or Happy Mondays at their esoteric best. Dark, dense and serious, with the tentacles of the baggy beat and a wandering electric guitar – all bent 3rd strings and chorus pedal – creeping through its cracks, it’s a signpost of where they’d come from and where they’d briefly be going…
Paris Angels – Stay (Peel Session)
Should such things matter to you (and of course they do), it’ll have you double-checking the label on the record for a Factory logo or catalogue number that isn’t there. Yes, despite all necessary Factory ingredients being present; a clattering, enthusiastic rhythm, hot-wired chicken scratch guitar, a shouty Mancunian frontman oozing oodles of effort over ability – all housed in a subtle and arty sleeve, considered typeface ‘n all – Perfume was released on the perfectly-named Sheer Joy label. All bands have one great song to their name. Perfume (All On You) was Paris Angels’.