the middle of 1984 Microdisney started gigging extensively to build on
the relative interest of their first releases. This was not just to make
the public aware of their existence but also to win over their record
label in the process. 'Everybody is Fantastic' made a brief appearance
in the indie charts in August but, with little publicity surrounding the
band, both this and the first three singles were left to eke out an extended
lifespan as it was only gradually that punters were stumbling across the
records. Johnathan Fell (aka Ed Flesh, aka Steve Pregnant, aka Crazy Johnny
Nancy) joined them on bass and Tom Fenner joined on drums (both had received
credits for 'This Liberal Love' on the first LP). A while later Cathal
Coughlan was relieved of keyboard duties by Nick Montgomery which gave
him more space on stage to snarl.
With a further Peel session in October 1984 they were previewing some
excellent new material. This view on new material was not entirely shared
by Rough Trade who were shuffling their feet over the next release, seemingly
reserving their efforts and resources for label mates The Smiths. Penniless
and desperate for continuity the band considered re-releasing a compilation
of their older material themselves. It came in the form of 'We
hate you South African Bastards', simply the greatest record title
in history. Happily Rough Trade took up the project and gave people the
chance to own recordings of the increasingly rare first two singles as
well as pick up some previously unheard songs. The LP comfortably made
it into the indie top ten but still left them short of a big breakthrough.
'Bastards' was retrospective and not representative of what Microdisney
were doing at the time. Impatient for the new material to see the light
of day, their situation was fuelling some increasingly bitter lyrics and
promoting a patronising train of thought in my mind that says great art
can only come out of true suffering. Microdisney were broke and, according
to the sleevenotes for the re-release 'Clock Comes Down the Stairs' CD,
indulging in LSD binges to while away the time. The sleevenotes went on
to describe their situation 'London, miserable weather, everything is
Compounding their (not entirely unrelated) personal circumstances was
the political situation in England. A country that was becoming increasingly
polarised and where it felt (as it still does today) that the final battle
was being waged between the traditional caring values of a welfare state
and an unregulated free for all. On top of privatisation and cuts in public
spending was the horror of a Miners' Strike that was going desperately
wrong. Many a tension releasing evening was to be had drinking beer while
watching Microdisney play in some London toilet venue, but everything
was indeed fucked.
1985 finally saw signs of progress. A new LP and single were promised
and a heavy nationwide tour was announced, even so it still took until
April for the three song EP 'In The World'
to appear. The EP pretty well disappeared without trace but we were treated
to a memorable television appearance on the BBC's 'Old Grey Whistletest'
and a chance for Microdisney to vent their anger on a wider public. A
bad tempered performance saw Cathal Coughlan crossing himself in mockery
of the Catholic Church and ending with a vehement rant at the people he
believed were bugging his phone. ('Loftholdingswood'
Then again things went quiet, even gigs were few and far between as we
waited for the promised LP. It was October before we saw the release of
another single 'Birthday Girl' - a true pop
hit if ever there was one but still failing to make the impact it deserved.
'Birthday Girl', which had also been played on Whistletest
(Realaudio Video) got an equally vicious performance on 'The
Tube' (Realaudio video).
The LP, 'Clock Comes Down The Stairs',
arrived in November with Rough Trade putting significantly more weight
behind the release (including a full page ad in the music papers). They
were in business and starting to pick up their first press of any consequence.
The result was their first Indie number one record. Even though its release
was scheduled at a quiet time when the big boys weren't in town it was
still some feat when 4 or 5 artists could dominate the independent charts
for months at a time. It put them in a different league and hopes were
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