Ten

Ten years ago today Bagging Area was born, a new born music blog blinking in the half light of the new year, an infant in the blog world, picked up by its feet and tapped sharply on its back to get it breathing properly. The first few blogposts were pretty hit and miss- I struggled to get the links to work, file- host Mediafire was the most complicated thing I’d ever seen and there were a huge amount of well written and well read music blogs already in existence. I had been a regular visitor to The Vinyl Villain, Acid Ted and Across The Kitchen Table for a couple of years (all still going strong) and there were other blogs that I loved and visited often, blogs that have fallen by the wayside and are now defunct, among them audio.out, Ripped In Glasgow and Spilt Victorian Child, all early inspirations. At first I thought I’d give it a year and like Roy Batty go out in a timestamped blaze of glory. Now here I am a decade later.

The blogging landscape has shifted a lot since 2010. The micro blogging advantages of Twitter and Instagram have overtaken the more long form blogs in a lot of ways, direct, instant and to the point. Younger people compile their own Spotify playlists and can add to each others, sharing songs without any of the extra stuff that we do at blogs. I started out visiting music blogs looking for music, music that was largely dead and gone (90s dance music, 80s indie, 60s psyche) but had gained some kind of afterlife online as people began to digitise their record collections and share them with like- minded souls. The writing seemed important too, more important maybe than the music. You can post music on Twitter or Facebook very quickly and without too much thought but blogging requires thoughts and words and the words and the context then become primary- why you like that song, where you first heard it, the effect it had on you, the girl/boy you were with when you heard it, the band you saw live that took the top of your head off, how you re-discovered that song or this band, even just the youthful enthusiasm of ‘I just heard this and I love it’. And then the comments begin to trickle in, slowly and intermittently but over the years you build up online links and friendships (which sometimes become real life friendships too). You all know who you are. The music and the words lead to the connections with other people and then that becomes the reason why we do it. So, New Year’s Day 2020, cheers to us and thank you to all of you out there who read this blog, those who read and comment, those who read and don’t, those who used to read it and drifted away, those who still write their own blogs and those who don’t, those still here and those who have gone (RIP Tim Badger). Happy New Year. I intend to keep blogging away and seeing how much more I can wring out of the dishcloth of my inspiration.

There are quite a few songs on my hard drive with Ten in the title including songs by Bull Moose Jackson (Big Ten Inch), The Stone Roses (Ten Storey Love Song), Shara Nelson (One Goodbye In Ten), The Flaming Stars (Ten Feet Tall), ? And The Mysterions (Ten O’ Clock) and The Monochrome Set (Ten Don’ts For Honeymooners). I’ve gone for these four for new year’s day and Bagging Area’s tenth birthday.

Curve were the new thing in 1991, a dreamlike blend of noisy layered MBV guitars and tough drum machine rhythms with singer Toni Halliday’s icy vocals on top. This was the lead song off their debut e.p. Blindfold, rapper JC- 001 joining in and it still sounds tremendous.

Ten Little Girls

In 1987 the world of indie guitars sounded more like this, The Soup Dragons and a gloriously ramshackle, lo fi, shoutalong blast of fun.

Hang Ten

Sabres Of Paradise released their debut album in 1993, four sides of vinyl taking in techno, ambient, dub, massive basslines and the wonder that is Smokebelch. One of the more in- your- face, hard edged tracks was this one, one that can still make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and one that in its grooves carries the unmistakable smell of dry ice.

Inter Lergen Ten Ko 

Cut from similar cloth but in 2018 rather than the early 90s is this one from Future Beat Alliance, Cloud Ten, dark and sleek acidic business with more than a tinge of Detroit in it.

 

She’s In Love With Heaven Above

The Soup Dragons appeared in my online life recently, a band I’ve never written about here before. In a way they perfectly illustrate the journey a certain kind of indie guitar band made between 1986 and 1990. In 1986 they appeared on the NME’s C86 compilation and from there released a single called Hang Ten.

Hang Ten

Hang Ten is an endearingly shambolic, under-produced, two minute, three chord romp, slightly thrashy but not too thrashy, four young men from Bellshill, Motherwell, inspired by The Jesus And Mary Chain. Ambitions at this point for bands like The Soup Dragons didn’t seem to go much beyond putting an album out on an independent label, getting a full page in the NME, being played by John Peel and undertaking a 40 date tour which always included a gig at Northampton Roadmenders.

In early summer 1989 they put out a single called Backwards Dog, a loud, filthy rocker that blared out of the speakers. I bought it on 12″ and remember liking it but also thinking they’d possibly missed the boat a little, that things were changing around them and they maybe hadn’t noticed.

Backwards Dog

But then in 1990 they released this…

Everything changed for guitar bands. The drugs, the jeans, the drumbeat, the video special effects. For The Soup Dragons this was partly forced on them by losing their drummer and buying a drum machine and sampler to plug the gap but it was also due to records like Bummed and The Stone Roses and that groove. Love beads not brown suede. White jeans not winklepickers. Northampton Roadmenders was still on the itinerary but now with a DJ in support. And having a hit in the real charts, not the indie charts, was obligatory.

The Soup Dragons hit the top five in the UK with their cover of I’m Free, a fairly minor Rolling Stones album track that Sean Dickson and the boys breathed new life into (with a toasting section courtesy of Junior Reid). Big Life, their record label and home to The Orb, Yazz, De La Soul and Junior Reid, then tried to follow it up by remixing Mother Universe and holding a more expensive video shoot. Both versions came out in 1990 along with a rejigged version of the album Lovegod. I like Mother Universe, it’s got tons of period charm, it sounds like indie night in a nightclub, the midweek indie disco- but the earlier version is better than the hit chasing second.