The Motorcycle Boy – ‘Scarlet.’ (Forgotten Astronaut Records)
There’s no shortage of records that we have had to wait an aeon for. Through my teenage years, it was The Stone Roses’ Second Coming which took five years to follow-up their self-titled debut, and then as I got older it was the dozen years that went by before Kate Bush finally released Aerial, the follow-up to 1993’s The Red Shoes.
But there are, also, those records that sit in the vaults, while rumours circulate, and bootlegs may issue forth. So let’s take a brief step back…In 1985, contemporaries of the Jesus & Mary Chain, Meat Whiplash, took their name from a Fire Engines b-side and released their one and only single ‘Don’t Slip Up‘ on the legendary Creation record label. Meanwhile, over in Edinburgh, there was a band called The Shop Assistants, who were fronted by one Alex Taylor. After the band released their only album, Will Anything Happen she left to join up with the members of Meat Whiplash and guitarist David Scott and The Motorcycle Boy was born.
Of course, this should have been the start of something brilliant. In a way, it did start brilliantly. The band debuted with a cracking single ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain‘ which made the Peel Festive Fifty and saw them get an NME cover. They signed to Chrysalis, but sadly, momentum got lost, and while a couple of singles were released in 1989, the album that got recorded was never released…until now. But with an interest in indie guitar pop always bubbling away under the surface, the band haven’t been forgotten, and the release of the album has certainly piqued the interest of many.
So what does the record actually sound like? Album opener ‘Hey Mama’ is dancey, and dallies with the sounds that were emerging out of the dance scene, involves sequencers and keyboards. ‘Valentine’ is that underrated point where shoegazing meets c-86, and ‘World Falls Into Place’ is that gorgeous sixties influence that had such an influence over many of the 80s indie bands (while we’re at it, I genuinely think the first c-86 record may well have been The Byrds version of ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’). Oh, and if you’ve never heard it before, ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ is here, too. It should have been filling up indie dancefloors for the last thirty years, and hopefully it now will do, too. Historically, it belongs with a whole host of bands that decimated the charts like Primal Scream and the aforementioned Mary Chain, the cult heroes The Pastels and the criminally underrated Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes.
It’s great, too, that the last two tracks on the album are an unreleased single ‘Sweet Dreams Pretty Baby’ and ‘Days Like These.’ If you look up the band’s releases on Discogs or Wiki you can see that there are other versions and recordings that could have filled an entire second disc. In the meantime, celebrate the fact that this release has finally seen the light of day, and check out the other bands on the family tree.
Scarlet is released on Forgotten Astronaut Records on October 25.