A poster from September 1989, for a gig at Hollywood Studios in Glasgow, which almost certainly wasn’t as glamorous a venue as it sounds – certainly not a patch on Glasgow Studios in Hollywood. From the date, the idea might have been to promote The Orchids’ What Will We Do Next? and St Christopher’s All Of A Tremble singles… or at least to get them to qualify for a play-off with Partick Thistle.
If you were one of those people who used to write and ask why bands on Sarah didn’t do more gigs, here’s a reminder from the (Scottish) Sun of what happened when The Orchids were due to drive 400-odd miles to London to promote Striving For The Lazy Perfection at the Garage in Highbury in the vague hope that someone from NME or Melody Maker might turn up and be drily dismissive. (The handwritten comment is by the band, by the way!)
Footnote: we obviously didn’t find out about the Orchids’ crash till just before soundcheck, which didn’t give a lot of time to sort out adding anyone else to the bill. But then Harvey suggested he and Bobby did some Field Mice songs, given they were there anyway (Blueboy and Northern Picture Library had been due to support). So they did, including, as Clare says in the There And Back Again Lane booklet, three songs they never played live when the Field Mice were still going: Willow, An Earlier Autumn and A Wrong Turn and Raindrops, the last of those with Harvey on harmonica, which he never played on the record.
A typically whimsical French tour; we’d been assured that the gig at the Cafe de le Plage was a Paris showcase, despite no one in Paris having heard of the venue… not surprising, in retrospect, as it was in Maurepas, a small town 20 miles west with no station (it’s twinned with Waterlooville; say no more). The Orchids were supposed to headline, but singer James had broken his foot playing football – this only months after the London launch of Striving For The Lazy Perfection had had to be cancelled after their van fell off the M6 near Carlisle. But Harvey stepped in, and we seem to have given away free cassette copies of Epicurean, which sounds ridiculously generous. If you’ve always wondered why Blueboy’s Toulouse was called “Toulouse”, by the way, it’s because it was written outside Le Bikini in Toulouse.
I think we were quite excited to be offered the chance of doing our first Christmas party at a big London venue, the Powerhaus in Islington; the idea that big London venues might be on the lookout for gullible provincial labels who hadn’t quite grasped that a Sunday evening less than 48 hours before Christmas Day isn’t necessarily a good time to hold a party – especially if people have to get the Northern Line to Angel for it – never occurred to us. That would be the old Angel station, of course, with the really narrow island platform. The Powerhaus is now a branch of Halifax. Angel now has the longest escalators on the Underground. Don’t say we never tell you anything.
An advert for a concert at the New Morning in Paris – our first Sarah Night in France. It’s actually the back page of Les Cahiers du Cinema, not because that was our target audience, but because the promoter had always wanted to take out an ad in Les Cahiers du Cinema – he wasn’t really an indie kid (though I do have a lovely memory of him playing air guitar to Caveman during The Orchids’ soundcheck). It obviously worked, as 700 people turned up (or maybe that was the pieces in Libération and Les Inrockuptibles…) to witness Chris from The Orchids surprising everyone, possibly including himself, by playing drums on Sensitive.
Click here for Bob Stanley’s review in Melody Maker.
This is the handout that we handed out – that being the thing to do with handouts – at the end of the Thekla’s gangplank before the 1993 Sarah Christmas Party in order to let everyone know what they couldn’t expect. Having gone inside and read it, one person did (genuinely!) ask if he could be allowed back out again as a wet boxer short competition judged by Stewart Boyracer wasn’t really his sort of thing, but we just told him he should count himself lucky, as it wasn’t Stewart’s sort of thing either, and he’d be a lot closer. People are weird.
(NB this image is a bit bigger than most so you can read it – click more than once to bring it to maximum size!)
A poster advertising our first compilation and also new singles by The Orchids and The Field Mice (SARAHs 11 and 12), which had just come out. It would obviously have looked less inept if the text in the top right had been black on white rather than white on black, but it’s based on the sleeve artwork, and we had no realistic (i.e. affordable) way of producing a negative. The view down Welsh Back from Bristol Bridge (which is what this is) has changed a bit since 1988… these days, it’s in colour…
Flyposting was never fun; having to go out in the middle of the night with a bag of posters and a bucket of paste, ready at all times to run or duck into a shop doorway if you heard a police car. This poster is for a gig in May ’91 at our local pub, The King’s Arms. The house with scaffolding is 45/46 Upper Belgrave Road, aka Sarah HQ (the basement, not the whole house).
A postcard for the Unholy Soul tour. The delicate “marbling” effect was achieved by leaving it in a damp cupboard; these days, you’d just use Photoshop’s “mildew” filter. Potteries folk still cover their children’s ears and speak in hushed tones whenever the Orchids’ day off in Stoke is mentioned; I wish I could expand, but – what happens in Stoke, stays in Stoke, that’s what they say. Though they say it less often now the A500’s fully open, of course.
These were the flexidiscs we released with our fanzines prior to setting up Sarah; the Sea Urchins appeared on two flexis, one with Kvatch (Cling Film), one with Sha-la-la (Summershine). The Orchids, Talulah Gosh and Poppyheads also had Sha-la-la releases (From This Day, I Told You So and the Postcard for Flossy EP respectively). It was important that all the flexis came in proper sleeves; they were throwaway, but weren’t meant to be thrown away. (In case you’re wondering, Sha-la-la was a flexdisc label, with the discs distributed via various fanzines, chiefly Are You Scared To Get Happy?, Simply Thrilled, Baby Honey and Trout Fishing in Leytonstone.)
Posted on 27th April, 2014
Next weekend (2nd-5th May), there’s a four-day exhibition at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol presenting various artefacts from our eight years running the label – artwork, posters, tapes, fanzines, records and so forth. It’s free, and runs 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. The Saturday will also feature a preview screening of My Secret World, Lucy Dawkins’ film about the label, and performances by The Orchids, Secret Shine and Amelia and Rob from Heavenly – tickets for that are £18. There’s also a Q&A with us, and Clare will be leading walking tours of various Sarah landmarks on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday – that’s all free, like the exhibition, and the whole thing is part of the Bristol Art Weekender, and you can find out more details here.