16 June 2008
The Popguns - Waiting for the Winter
Label: Midnight Music
Year of Release: 1989
It's hopefully obvious by now that I have an enormous soft spot for a lot of eighties indie music, but in retrospect I'm not keen to join the hoardes of anoraks who will readily declare of most of the output: "They should have been huge!" No, they shouldn't. There was something so anti-mainstream, anti-eighties and even anti-stardom about most of the bands of the time that them being "huge" would have been contrary to their stances. It would have confused the poor dears. A lot of indie bands in the eighties were contrary sods, forever bemoaning the fact that daytime Radio One would never play them whilst simultaneously doing all they could to kick against everything Simon Bates held dear. Frequently, they sounded like the geeky school outsiders desperately trying to be mates with the captain of the school football team whilst also claiming that they were happy to be different.
There were exceptions, however, and I'd like to think that Brighton's The Popguns were one of them. Shambolic they weren't - on the contrary, the majority of the songs they released in their years of activity between 1986-1996 are straight, hard hits of guitar based pop, mixed beautifully with lead singer Wendy Morgan's heartbroken vocals. It was note-perfect, exquisitely performed stuff, and when you stop to consider the other "indie" acts who entered the top 40 in the same period (Ned's Atomic Dustbin, The Darling Buds, and The Primitives for example) it's hard not to feel that they were robbed.
Their 1995 album "Love Junky" is a particularly brilliant piece of work, where Wendy Morgan performs at her strongest. Where other acts of their ilk frequently had very wispy, fey vocalists, one of The Popguns' strengths was to have a lead vocalist who was able to give the tracks added pathos and emotion. She is able to give seemingly the most innocent phrase just the right amount of spite, hurt or tenderness it deserves. For all these strengths, however, they never did quite cross over, despite the fact that some of the singles from "Love Junky" did break the daytime Radio One barrier - well, once or twice, anyway.
Their 1989 single "Waiting for the Winter" is probably their best 45rpm work, although the video is admittedly very low budget. It almost seems as if they took a toddler to the seaside with them to run around with the camera whilst they ran through the song. Ah well.
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