Back in those distance pasts when cardigans ruled and a quiff was the order of the day – I would make contact with like-minded souls through ink and roughly recorded cassettes. Scrawl out your ideas and hope that reciprocation was the order of the day – much like this hyper-writing on here. So letters were sent and songs exchanged and gigs attended.
I’m not certain how I first heard The Groove Farm – it may have been on John Peel, it may have been a flexi-disc taken from the hand of another fanzine writer, a cassette from a friend or in the flesh – but I’ve been thinking about them recently.
I guess that’s because through some odd quirks of fate I was suddenly reacquainted with that heady bunch of beatniks through the vagaries of social networking. A picture posted from the past – tagged with a friend and then suddenly comments from groove farmers and rosehip(sters) arriving in inboxes and awakening memories of fuzzy pop and feeling. They really were quite a group – I saw them more as a collective if I’m honest – I was a little afraid of them - if I’m honest – looking back they couldn’t have been that much older than me – but they already had the indie cultural competence tucked under their belts. Tours and vinyl, sessions and interviews – a real pop band in bleak times adding excitement and simplicity - a raving pop blast to our humdrum lives.
As is the way - independent pop music post C86 was characterized as a shambling – rambling discordant bunch of no hopers giving rock a bad a name. Now don’t get me wrong I found it hard to revel in the fey and the flowery – but that isn’t really representative of the scene. Although I will go on record that I was a bowl headed youth who once wore a paisley pyjama top as a shirt. I’d like it to be viewed as a confrontational fashion statement – a nod to the sartorial send ups of PuNk rock. It wasn’t. It was a pyjama top left in a charity shop from the relatives of a dead old man. Not that anyone would ever admit that there was a scene by the way – it was a scene with no name. Commonalities and connections – shared interests and recommendations.
It was friendship across cities and fields.
And whilst I don’t find myself diving for blasts of that teenage anguish in the same way as I used to – there are moments when those tunes come rolling down the streets and right into my heart. Simple as that really. There’s always space for a Pastels tune somewhere, for The Sea Urchins, the Razorcuts, Remember Fun and The Groove Farm.
And this is about The Groove Farm as I said. A band of Bristol troopers. Creating their own brand of buzz soul glam stomp shouters. You see it’s hard to categorise a band like The Groovies – no one by the way ever referred to them as this – and to be honest no one will ever again. But they make you feel playful and daft and want to write all that daftness down. Not that you could or shouldn’t take them seriously either. But they weren’t out for the studied cool of the Velvets – although they had an edge. You get me – they weren’t CUD – they had an edge. The Groove farm were a noisy guitar pop band made in 1986 - making things happen on the cheap, with handmade sleeves, and hand coloured labels. It felt personal and honest. This DIY punk spirit seeping into our sore heads and happy hearts. But live was where it was at – there was a control of the cacophony and rock to its roll. Garage punk played fast and loud with ba ba baaas and sha la la laaas. They could work an audience. They could play - sometimes on the verge of disintegrating or coming to a grinding halt but somehow rescuing the collapse and building something ba ba ba better. I saw them a fair number of times as they made their way up North to play Arts centres, public houses and polytechnics. It was that kind of time. We – that is The Williams – supported them – we were loud and jangly - they were simply ace. Good times. I know the whole Subway records ordeal is not considered the pinnacle of pop for The Groove Farm - but Alvin is King was/ is a stomper. A record that should be in your record collection.
And now through chance posts and pictures from my past I’m suddenly connected to Andrew (of the Groove Farm) and reacquainted with that energy and purpose they made. He’s still making music - I expect they all are – but I’m not that well connected – moved on to a different place – like we all do – you can buy his records by searching for Our Arthur. There’s an honesty and in all his tunes – that goes right back to that Kvatch flexidisc. You should have a listen. I have. And I liked them.
There’s also a covers album of old Groove Farm songs that Andrew has put together. I’ll get round to buying that soon. The Williams weren’t asked to contribute – but we used to do a mean version of ‘In the Summertime’ – in a cold rehearsal room in an Ashby church.
So in the spirit of connecting with the past – but trying to look forward. This is a raving Pop blast.