C86 (music)

C86 (music)

Infobox Album | Name = C86
Type = Compilation
Artist = Various

| Released = 1986
Recorded = 1985/86
Genre = Indie pop, Post-punk, C86
Length =
Label = Rough Trade
New Musical Express
Compiler = Neil Taylor, Adrian Thrills, Roy Carr
Reviews = *Allmusic Rating|4.5|5 [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:0nfuxqu0ldse link]
Last album = "Pogo A Go Go"
(1986)
This album = "C86"
(1986)
Next album = "Holiday Romance"
(1986)

C86 is a cassette compilation released by the British music magazine "New Musical Express" (NME) in 1986, featuring new bands licensed from independent labels of the time. As a phrase, C86 quickly evolved into shorthand for a guitar-based musical genre characterised by "jangly" guitars and fey melodies, although other musical styles were represented on the tape. Inspired by the DIY ideals of punk, it evolved into one of the most derided UK music genres in the last thirty years. [ Cajun Dance Party, The Colourful Life, The Observer, 20 April 2008 http://music.guardian.co.uk/pop/reviews/story/0,,2273973,00.html] It became a term of abuse for its associations with tweeness and underachievement, although some now argue that its release represents a pivotal moment for independent music in the UK. [Stanley, Bob Sleevenotes to CD86]

The C86 name was a play on the labelling and length of blank compact cassettes that were sold in the 80s - commonly C60, C90 and C120 - combined with 1986.

The C86 Cassette

The tape was a belated follow-up to C81, a more diverse collection of new bands, released by the "NME" in 1981 in conjunction with Rough Trade. C86 was similarly designed to reflect the new music scene of the time. It was compiled by NME writers Roy Carr, Neil Taylor and Adrian Thrills, who licenced tracks from labels such as Creation, Pink, and Ron Johnson. Readers had to pay for the tape via mail order although an LP was subsequently released on Rough Trade in 1987. The UK music press, in this period, was extremely competitive, with four weekly papers documenting new bands and trends. There was a tendency to artificially create and "discover" new musical sub-genres in order to heighten reader interest. NME journalists of the period now agree that C86 was a typical example of this, but also a byproduct of NME's "hip hop wars"; [ NME: Still Rocking at 50, BBC News, 24 February 2002 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/music/1836411.stm] a schism on the paper (and amongst readers) between enthusiasts of the contemporary progressive black music such as Public Enemy and Mantronix, and the fans of traditional white rock, which was the superabundant genre represented on C86.

It was the 23rd NME tape, although its catalogue number was NME022 (C81 had been dubbed COPY001). The rest of the tapes were compilations promoting labels' back catalogues and dedicated to R&B, Northern Soul, Jazz or Reggae. C86 was followed up with a Billie Holiday compilation, "Holiday Romance". [ I Love Everything Forum http://ilx.p3r.net/thread.php?msgid=2077178]

The C86 line-up featured early tracks from The Shrubs, A Witness, Stump, Big Flame and The Mackenzies. Their loud quirkiness was completely at odds with the Byrds-style guitars and fey melodies of what came to be known as C86 bands. NME promoted the tape it in conjunction with London's Institute of Contemporary Arts, who staged [http://www.indie-mp3.co.uk/2006/01/c86-review-of-c86-week.html a week of gigs] in July 1986 which featured most of the acts on the compilation.

Legacy

Ex-NME staffer Andrew Collins summed up C86 by dubbing it "the most indie thing to have ever existed". [ Andrew Collins, Wan Love, Indie RIP; Word Magazine, October 2006] Bob Stanley, a "Melody Maker" journalist in the late 1980s and founder member of pop band Saint Etienne, similarly claimed in a 2006 interview [Bob Stanley, Uncut Magazine, February 2006] that C86 represented the:

"beginning of indie music...It's hard to remember how underground guitar music and fanzines were in the mid 80s; DIY ethics and any residual punk attitudes were in isolated pockets around the country and the C86 comp and gigs brought them together in an explosion of new groups".

Martin Whitehead, who ran the Subway label in the late 80s, was of this view [ Hann, Michael "Fey City Rollers" http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,11710,1325674,00.html] believing it to have had a political influence. "Before C86, women could only be eye-candy in a band, I think C86 changed that - there were women promoting gigs, writing fanzines and running labels".

Some writers however regret the influence the tape had over the music scene of the time and subsequently. Everett True, a writer for NME in 1986 under the name "The Legend!" [Everett True, Plan B blog http://planbmag.com/blogs/staff/2005/07/22/friday-22-july/] called it "unrepresentative of its times (as opposed to the brilliant C81 comp) and even unrepresentative of the small narrow strata of music it thought it was representing." Alastair Fitchett, editor of the long-running music site Tangents goes further, despite being a fan of many of the bands on the tape. [ Alastair Fitchett, C86, Tangents, http://www.tangents.co.uk/tangents/main/2002/nov/c86.html ]

'"(The NME) laid the foundations for the desolate wastelands of what we came to know by that vile term 'Indie'. What more reason do you need to hate it?"'

Follow-ups

In 1996 NME continued the tradition of compiling a new band album (this time a CD) by releasing C96. This had little impact and has been almost forgotten. [Tim Footman, Tangents blog, 2002, http://www.tangents.co.uk/tangents/main/2002/dec/c96.html ]

The 20th anniversary of the tape, in 2006, saw several tributes. A download-only compilation, [http://www.indie-mp3.co.uk/2006/07/c06.html C06] , of contemporary bands inspired by those on the original C86 cassette was put together by the indie-mp3 site in July 2006. Adouble-CD compilation; "CD86", [ Press Release, CD86 Myspace Profile, http://www.myspace.com/cd86sanctuaryrecords ] compiled by Bob Stanley, was released by Sanctuary Records and the ICA hosted "C86 - Still Doing It For Fun", [ ICA website, C86 - Still Doing It For Fun, October 2006, http://www.ica.org.uk/?lid=12257 ] an exhibition and 2 nights of gigs celebrating the rise of British Independent music.

A documentary film marking the period; [http://www.hungrybeat.com/ Hungry Beat] ; is in production directed by Paul Kelly. [ Tangents blog; Hungry Beat, The Sun Is Shining, July 27 2006, http://unpopular.typepad.com/unpopular/2006/07/hungry_beat_the.html ]

Track listing

The full tracklisting for the C86 compilation was:

ide one

# Primal Scream - "Velocity Girl"
# The Mighty Lemon Drops - "Happy Head"
# The Soup Dragons - "Pleasantly Surprised"
# The Wolfhounds - "Feeling So Strange Again"
# The Bodines - "Therese"
# Mighty Mighty - "Law"
# Stump - "Buffalo"
# Bogshed - "Run to the Temple"
# A Witness - "Sharpened Sticks"
# The Pastels - "Breaking Lines"
# Age of Chance - "From Now On, This Will Be Your God"

ide two

# The Shop Assistants - "It's Up to You"
# Close Lobsters - "Firestation Towers"
# Miaow - "Sport Most Royal"
# Half Man Half Biscuit - "I Hate Nerys Hughes (From The Heart)"
# The Servants - "Transparent"
# The Mackenzies - "Big Jim (There's no pubs in Heaven)"
# Big Flame - "New Way (Quick Wash And Brush Up With Liberation Theology)"
# Fuzzbox - "Console Me"
# McCarthy - "Celestial City"
# The Shrubs - "Bullfighter's Bones"
# The Wedding Present - "This Boy Can Wait"

The C86 Genre

:"For more information on C86 as a genre, see Indie pop"

ee also

*Indie pop
*Post-punk
*DIY punk ethic
*Fanzine
*Indie rock
*Sarah Records
*Northern Soul

Notes

References

Articles and books

*Bladh, Krister [http://www.indie-mp3.net/C86%20Essay.pdf "Everything went Pop!, C86 and more, A wave and its rise and wake" (pdf) 2005]
*Cavanagh, David "The Creation Records Story: My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry for the Prize " (Virgin Books, 2000) ISBN 1-85227-775-0
*"Fire Escape Talking", [http://fireescapetalking.blogspot.com/2006/07/anoraky-in-uk-c86-punk-that-refuses-to.html "Anoraky in the UK,C86, the punk that refuses to die" ] ("Fire Escape Talking blog", July 7, 2006)
*Fitchett, Alastair, [http://unpopular.typepad.com/unpopular/2005/07/c86.html "C86"] ("Tangents Blog", July 25, 2005)
*Hann, Michael [http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,11710,1325674,00.html "Fey City Rollers"] ("The Guardian", 13th October 2004)
*Hasted, Nick [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20061027/ai_n16817080 "How an NME cassette launched indie music"] ("The Independent", October 27, 2006)
*Pearce, Kevin [http://www.tangents.co.uk/tangents/main/2001/march/junebrides.html A Different Story; The Ballad of the June Brides] ("Tangents", March 2001)
*Reynolds, Simon "Rip It Up and Start Again: Post Punk 1978-1984" (Faber and Faber, 2005) ISBN 0-571-21569-6
*Reynolds, Simon [http://www.timeout.com/london/music/features/2167.html "The C86 Indie Scene is back"] (Time Out, Oct 23 2006)
*Stanley, Bob, [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,14932-2411784,00.html "Where were you in C86?"] ("The Times" October 20, 2006)
*True, Everett [http://planbmag.com/blogs/staff/2005/07/22/friday-22-july/ "C86 Q&A"] (Plan B Blog" July 22, 2005)
*Wire, Nicky [http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,,1930836,00.html "The Birth of Uncool"] ("The Guardian, October 25, 2006)

External links

* [http://www.indie-mp3.co.uk/2006/01/c86-tape.html C86 Profile "Indie MP3-Keeping C86 alive" blog]


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