MICRODISNEY IN FIVE DATES WHICH SADLY I COULDN'T REMEMBER...
by Hibee Ian Ramsay (thanks to him for all his other help with the site)


There are two groups who have really inspired me both musically and spiritually and Microdisney, for a regrettfully short period of time, was one of them. I've always thought music is a wholly personal thing, one man's
Wonderwall is another's Final Countdown, and the way music/songs/words can affect you largely depend upon who you are and the circumstances in which you are living. That said perhaps I analyse things too much and the vast majority of music lovers just like pleasant noise in the background and don't really take music beyond the moment the concert/record/cd/tape ends and simply get on with their lives.

Perhaps this would have been a better solution for me as I would have not spent vast amounts of time waiting for records to come out and getting increasingly frustrated when musicians or producers wouldn't do what I wanted them to do. However the joy when they came up with the goods was worth it and Microdisney repeatedly did this. Album releases, concerts, Peel sessions, interviews, even album tracklists and titles obtained from weary record company bods, would send me into a near-heavenly state.

I sadly though (well actually happily) was the sort of person that would ruminate for hours about Peel sessions, what songs would be played at concerts and inundate record labels with phone calls enquiring about 'release dates', apologies to anyone who had to 'deal with my enthusiasm' while working at Rough Trade or Virgin. How do you describe the group you have loved? As I have said already, the way some songs affect someone is an entirely personal thing and in some cases can be shared as a common experience, again I cite Wonderwall and the Final Countdown as examples of this. Microdisney however cannot be really shared as such- perhaps because they meant so many things to so many people. My elder sister was swept along by my enthusiasm and loved their addictive melodies and thankfully she was not also a music 'saddict', one per family I guess is the limit. So to answer my question I think describing the five key dates in my relationship with Microdisney should just about sum up what Microdisney meant for me. It will never truly detail the hours spent repeatedly listening to songs or the optimism and enthusiasm it engendered in me but it'll have to do.

1 Microdisney Edinburgh Coasters January 1985 Floating aimless waiting to live

Everyone has their favourite Peel session, and my one was certainly the Microdisney one that began with Horse Overboard. The general context of this, mid-Eighties, coming to terms with the death of my father, coming to terms of my girlfriend leaving me, coming to terms with the evil that was Margaret Thatcher, what I needed was Horse Overboard. It was optimistic, very melodic, very catchy and confusing which sort of fitted into my state of mind. Shortly after this came the first time I saw Microdisney at Coasters 'Ballroom' in Edinburgh. They were first on the bill with Hurrah and The Daintees and despite being a bit shambolic and mixed pretty badly they were superb. Despite their first album having been out for some time they played only unreleased material. Having played first, they were in the crowd to watch the other groups and being a 'friend of the stars' I went to speak to them. Despite the keyboard player spilling his beer on me, he was later sacked but not for the beer spilling shenanigans I understand, they were extremely amiable, and were relatively happy with their performance. I remember walking home through the cold streets of Edinburgh humming a tune that I had never heard before all the way. This was typical of Microdisney.


2 Glasgow College of Technology 13th December 1985

The clock comes down the stairs was out and this concert for a Glasgow Tech Xmas Ball (ie in front of people who largely didn't care about the bands playing) was another fine example of what Microdisney were capable of. The
album lived up to the promise of the Peel sessions and the live outings and seeing the group on the way up at this time was special. When the chemistry was beginning to work and reviews and people were taking notice. Considering
the circumstances, they went down very well indeed. My obsession with Microdisney was at its height. If I remember correctly this concert was a week or so from their Tube appearance.

3 London Demos, pre-Crooked Mile Summer 86

Sometimes sketches are better than long thought over masterpieces. The optimism continued when I obtained a copy of their first demos for the Crooked Mile album. Five songs showing maturity, and a fresh melodic dynamic, thanks to the introduction of the brilliant James Compton. Mixing the optimism of signing with Virgin, melancholy and the typical ascerbic lyrics, they created songs the like of which I had never heard before. This combined with the last Peel session would surely produce an album that would easily surpass its predecessor. Well I guess that was the plan and certainly live they were at their peak when you think of songs like Rack they could never fail. Sadly however Crooked Mile wasn't half as good as it should have been. In fact I must have listened to it as an album a maximum of about four times preferring the demos and Peel sessions and poor quality bootlegs that I had recorded. And each time I listened to it the worse it got. Lenny Kaye massacred those songs and I'm not one to bear grudges but he destroyed them and I think Microdisney with it. A clock comes down the stairs style production would have suited the songs better, the demos released themselves would have been more fitting.

4 Harlesden Mean Fiddler 8 Jan 1987

Christmas time, never my favourite time of the year, in London, not my favourite city in the world but this was Microdisney in front of their home crowd and a different experience to anything I had seen previously. I had seen Microdisney battling, sometimes furiously with an indifferent crowd not that interested but who rarely left unaffected by the power of their live performances or the catchiness of their melodies. The addition of James Compton vocally made a great difference and the harmonies were simply amazing and a dimension that many of their contemporaries could only dream about. Lyrically they were getting better and better and musically it was gelling, especially on stage where the mixture of reigned in rage met musical beauty, all with a witty and caring attitude at a time when all most people cared about was their recently acquired BT shares. It was a great concert with People Just want to dream, truly wondrous.

5 La Grand Place in Mons, Belgium, July 1988 I know it's over

Sitting in a café on la Grand Place in Mons, I wasn't really surprised when I read in the NME that it was over and by that time I had become disillusioned and so had they by all accounts. Musical differences, dwindling crowds ('Microdisney are playing to smaller and smaller crowds' Sean told me with a foreboding air of resignation the last time I saw them in Dundee), a record company unable to 'market' them. As is often the case with the end of a relationship, I was bitter. Towards the record company, to Lenny Kaye the devil incarnate, now apparently selling popcorn in a suburb of Nowheresville, Wisconsin, well if he isn't he should be), the record buying public, (how could they all not recognise this band's merits, its a free country I would tell myself), to myself, I could have been more fervent in my selling of the band to interested parties (that said, I did convert a large number to the Church of Microdisney) and I guess I was bitter to them to an extent for not coming up with the goods. But more than feelings of bitterness I guess I was just sad for them. Apart from the things I have already mentioned, music is about times and places and experiences and moments. Their moment for me was between 84 and 86. At that time no other group created music that meant so much to me and made me happy or sad. I was very glad to have had such a pleasurable first musical relationship with such a group.


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