Monday, December 11, 2006


The Phantom 12-string was designed by Vox sometime in the mid-sixties and was used by the best beat groups. If you don't know what it looks like, it's right in front of you, in this week's very psychedelic cover pic! It has hence become legendary, both for it's stunning looks and it's distinctive sound - for a taste, put on any old Razorcuts track. It has been sung about, e.g. in The Pooh Sticks' "On Tape". And it has been dreamed about, by many a yearning eBay buyer. I don't think any of the bands in this weeks show use one but the theme is jangling guitars in general, with twelve strings or just the regular six.

The Squires – Going All the Way
The b-side of this single is a 1966 janglepop masterpiece with a very Byrdsian Rickenbacker sound. But as I'm still in search of that 7", or the Pebbles comp that features the b-side, or the Squires/Rogues comp from 1986, you'll have to make do with the a-side. It's not inferior in any way, and was famously included on the second volume of the Nuggets series.
The Mighty Lemon Drops – On My Mind
To be truthful, I've never really held The Mighty Lemon Drops in very high esteem. I just saw them as Echo & the Bunnymen imitators with a few good singles speaking for them. Listening to the whole of their debut album Happy Head (1986) however, has given me cause to reappraise them. I've also found out that their singer was earlier in a few sixties revival bands, and some of the album tracks have a great 12-string sound. The best one by far is "On My Mind", which sounds uncannily familiar. Maybe it's the guitar figure running through the whole thing. Doesn't it remind you of something? Maybe "Leaves" by Primal Scream? Not sure...
The Westfield Mining Disaster – Not Everybody Gets to Be a Rolling Stone
Paul Towler from twee stalwarts The Haywains formed a new band earlier this year and they've already caused quite a stir. They've completed a promo ep and are looking to release an album next year. Some of their recordings so far are featured on MySpace and they include this languid, beautiful song. We're looking forward to that album for sure!
Fantastic Something – The Night We Flew Out the Window
Here's a track from the perhaps most renowned Greek indiepop band. This single was originally released in 1985 by Blanco y Negro, but can also be found on their eponymous album from the same year.
Television Personalities – The Dream Inspires
I'd never had a TVPs fave track before (there are so many of them), but recently I heard this majestic song from the "Favourite Films" single. It's from 1992 and definitely among the most professional sounding that I've heard from them. It sounds more like other bands on Dan's Dreamworld label, but there's still something distinctly TVPs about it (as always).
The Search Engines – Butterfly Brill
You might argue that there are a few too many obsolete bands in this podcast, so here's something a bit more fresh. There's no disputing about the fact that there were more bands that sounded like The Byrds in 1986 than there are in 2006. This band actually split up in 2005 as it happens, after playing together for four years here in Glasgow. The song featured as DROP 16 is the jangliest one among the four MySpace tracks, but this one is not far behind. It displays the more psychedelic side of the band, and perhaps more of the Velvets and JAMC influence rather than The Rain Parade.
The Nivens – Yesterday
The Nivens were included on the fourth volume of The Sound of Leamington Spa, Firestation's indiepop niece to Nuggets. They were an English band (perhaps named after the author David Niven?) and though they never recorded anything at the Royal Leamington Spa studio, they aspired to the same sound John A Rivers applied to most of the Creation bands there. Earlier this year, Firestation also released a retrospective of their work called From a Northumbrian Mining Village Comes the Sound of Summer and the band themselves put up a website from which you could buy your very own Nivens t-shirt! (Don't know if it's still out there.)
The Windmills – Bad Luck Charm
In 1988 The Windmills put out "The Day Dawned On Me" on an S.T.S. seven-inch, and that is one of the best I own. More than ten years later they reformed and Jimmy Tassos was quick to make them one of the early signings to his Matinée label. Their first album was released in 2000 and given the beautiful title The Edge of August. I finally got around to buying it, along with my latest bundle of Matinée stuff. The previous remarkably fragile sound has changed quite a bit, but some of the tracks are quite reminiscent of it. This is my favourite song on album, and it should be enough to convince you to buy it too. It belongs with the other sold out Matinée records!
The Williams – I Know I’m Nothing Special to You
I don't know if The Williams had any releases of their own, cause there is not much information about them. They had one song on the Positively Teenage tape from 1990, but the one that caught my eye was this song that I think is from a flexi, and which you can also find on the fourth Leamington Spa.
The Poets – There Are Some
I've written about Scottish freakbeat group The Poets before, so I'll be brief here. They were known for their 12-string guitar-sound, but the guitars are not very prominent on this teen ballad from the b-side of their first single (1964). But I've chosen it anyway, because I like it so much. Check out DROP 9 for more jangle.
Patti Young – Head and Shoulders
Northern soul songs are never very jangly, are they? But they do contain a wealth of different and equally incredible guitar-sounds. One of my favourites is the guitar in "Head and Shoulders" - in the intro it sounds just like a piano. There IS a piano in there somewhere too, but at first you only hear the guitar. The sound of Patti Young's voice is quite unique as well!
The Marteens – First Kiss
This song would have fitted in nicely with last week's theme too. Or maybe it's just the name that makes you associate them with sixties girl groups? Their sound is more akin to The Smiths, and the lyrics certainly are as well: "The first perfect moment of my life, and they are few. Perhaps my lips will feel the same, before I die." From the fourth Leamington Spa comp again.
The Room – One Hundred Years
I've been meaning to buy LTM's reissues of The Room's records ever since I heard this song, which is included on the A Sandwich and a Sweater comp from 1996. They released three albums between 1980 and 1986 and after the split some of them moved on to form Benny Profane.
Happydeadmen – Andrew Eldritch
The only Swedish band this time around naturally has to be our indiepop pioneers Happydeadmen! Their first single "Silent Sigh City" and the album Eleven Pop Songs are classics in Sweden, and indeed the rest of the world of indiepop as well. This song is from their De Bricassart EP that came out in 1992, one year before their second album. Magnus Karlsson from the band now plays with The Charade together with Mikael Matsson from Red Sleeping Beauty.
Sensible Jerseys – Go to Work
Javier of Lost and Found put up this indiepop gem some time ago, and I felt the need to include it here. I just love the polished production and trite-yet-intriguing lyric. Great guitar solo too! It's from their only single, released in 1985. Most songs about working are good, at least the ones I can come up with.
Men of Westenesse – The Coldest Water
I mentioned this song earlier, so here it is. This is a an instructive example of how to write a good pop song. It's simply irresistible - the vocals, the guitar-figure in the verse, the chorus with its backing vocals, the key change, and the "second chorus" towards the end. It's on A Sandwich and a Sweater too, but was originally released in 1989 as a four-track 7".
The Jaywalkers – (You Can’t Be) Happy All the Time
Here is a track from Try a Little Sunshine, Pop Art's 1999 compilation of Greek indiepop, most of it inspired by Fantastic Something. The vocal delivery on this one is one of the most desperate I've ever come across. He could have made any song impossible to ignore!
James Dean Driving Experience – Never Means Anything
The JDDE compilation that we have been promised still hasn't turned up. Their Clearlake Revisited EP recently sold on eBay for more than forty quid, so I hope they won't let us wait too long. The band was started by two members who left Reserve, and if it was for better worse is disputable. The fact remains that both bands are among my dearest favourites. This song if from the Sean Connery EP released in 1990 by él Records, a label that clearly saw them as one of the least interesting and original on their roster.



sfa454545 said...

I just came across this site - it seems there is an interest in all things jangly

Just a short post to say I was a member of The Williams - and yes we didn't put out a great deal of stuff - there's some other tunes i'm thinking of putting up on the net soonish - so i'll keep you posted.

Or you can contact me at

get that anorak off and keep up the good work

Manolo Martos said...

I have just discovered your blog and i find it iresistible, specially your Splash! comps.

The first think I though when I saw those pictures featured was 'A Cabinet Of Curiosities'ork cover, which is still one of my favourite pop albums.
Let me tell you I am a big fan of the heavenly twelve strings sound, so imagine my delight in discovering your VOX kindalike compilation. And... You (and anyone else) can also take a hear on my own jangle compilations, entitled "12x12" and put on The Soulseek for sharing (my user name is manolo:martos). If you have time, obviously.
Thanks for your pop interest, and keep on with it!!.

Steve said...

I wrote and wot-have-you for the Pooh Sticks and I'm here to say that the Vox Phantom 12-string is a nice guitar but I never found it particularly, you know, playable. We used it on "Teenage High" (Paul played it) but on the whole we used a Shergold 12-string. Apart from anything else the Vox is impossible to play sitting down. I still have it, but haven't even got it out of the case for 15 years. I think the most under-rated indiepop guitar is the Watkins Rapier.

Anonymous said...

just thought i would drop you a message and say thank you fro the kind words about the lyrics on The Coldest Water and the way the song was written.
My name is Guy and I wrote it. if you want to discuss any more send me an email at All the best.

alan said...

an update - i eventually got round to putting some other williams stuff on myspace - so you can go check out the guitars at

i'll change it from time to time but you can download the tracks there