, you learn to take the knocks. We’re always going to be in the shadow of Birmingham London, Manchester, Liverpool…you know…’famous’ places. And Brummies have ‘that accent’…the one that TV producers and Advertising executives always use when they want to imply that a character is an idiot. If you want to befriend a native of instantly, simply do a cartoon version of ‘that accent’. We love that. Hearing someone casually belittle millions of people with a mouthful of tangled vowels and catch phrases learned from ultra lowbrow TV programmes is a source of pure joy to us Midlanders. We have more miles of canal in Birmingham Birmingham than there are in don’t you know?…that’s where we hide the bodies of the people who try and do ‘that accent’. Venice
This snobbery even creeps into Music. I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve been told something along the lines of: ‘Your band’s great…it’s a shame you’re from
’. Why? I’ve seen dozens of great bands come and go, making barely a ripple in the shark infested waters of the Music Business, primarily because of an accident of geography. Bah humbug. We did have a (kind of) renaissance in the 80s with ‘The Stourbridge Sound’. (Stourbridge is about 12 miles from Birmingham - a small but crucial distance). We gifted the world with The Wonder Stuff, Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. You’re welcome. Recently we’ve given you Jamelia (now, less a performer and more a talking head on game shows..) and The Editors. Annoyingly, that's the tip of the tip of the iceberg. High profile we ain’t. But we should be. Birmingham
If it sounds like I’m bitter and cynical it’s because I am. Indulge me, please.
|'Making Allowances For The Jargon' LP
One band that fell down the cracks that was particularly close to my heart was The Great Outdoors. Just as I was getting into alternative music (particularly the ‘Paisley Underground’) along they came. And they were from
, which meant I could see them live anytime I fancied. That plan was somewhat scuppered by their ‘revolving door’ policy to band members…in fact, one local wag insisted that the band’s full name was ‘The Great Outdoors Seek Bass Player’. Ha bloody ha. Only frontman/songwriter Martin Silvers lasted the course, helming the band through a short lived golden era (national ‘Radio One’ airplay thanks to Janice Long and …ulp…Mike Read), a split and a brief reformation. This album – ‘Making Allowances For The Jargon’ was as close as they got to The Big Time, which, in reality, wasn’t very close. It’s a solid debut album with a very big tip of the hat to IRS era REM and a nice Byrdsy jangle throughout. Birmingham
('World At My Shoes')
Two singles were pulled from the album: the first being a bit of an undiscovered classic – ‘World At My Shoes’ got the airplay and a bunch of positive reviews, but the band couldn’t quite capitalize on it. This may have been to do with the fluctuating lineup. In fact one of the members listed on the sleeve of the album doesn’t actually play on it. He did look damn cool. Hell, they all did. ‘…Jargon’ has long been deleted, but a retrospective featuring demos and some unreleased stuff -‘Not Quite Cinderella’- emerged in 1994 and is still available through Amazon -just hit the link. A third album – ‘Water Cakes’ was recorded in 1997, but never officially released.
|'Bird In The Hand' 45
There’s some great stuff on the record – occasionally the playing is a little stiff, but the tunes carry the performances through. For one, shining moment, it looked as if we had a contender here, but it wasn’t to be. At least one track on here, the aforementioned ‘World…’ is definitely worthy of reappraisal. This rip is from my vinyl copies of the album and singles – the album stuff is decent sound quality, but the singles…well anyone familiar with UK Indie pressings from the 80’s will know what I mean when I say they have a certain ‘crunchy’ quality… It shouldn’t deter from your listening pleasure.
I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity, gentle reader. Give it a whirl – it’ll cost you nada and it may enhance the quality of your life.
(Trainspotters may also like to know that it’s a Pat Collier production).
Great Outdoors: Making Allowances For The Jargon
01 World at my shoes
02 Laughing stops
03 Bird in the hand
04 Heaven sent
05 Glass houses
07 What did you expect
08 Buried in
09 Acid rain
10 Guitar is drunk
11 Some things
12 All I could do
13 Great romance