20 August 2009

Update - Marnie and Blessed Ethel

The phrase "slim pickings" springs to mind. If it weren't enough that I'm personally quite overworked at the moment, on the recent occasions when I have had a chance to nip into a second hand record store to consider their wares, I've found very little to get excited about. The overpriced sixties hits are all present and correct, but there's little else to shout about. If the only thing you've even been marginally tempted by is a copy of Rory Bremner's legendary "Nineteen Not Out" satirical cricketing disc, then that's a poor month by anybody's standards. Do second hand record stores have summer lulls just the same as everyone else, I wonder?

Still, such disappointments give me a chance to do a bit of an update on people we've previously featured on the blog. Ever since starting this site up I've noticed that no sooner do you write about a band and upload their material than you spot another single or album of theirs weeks later you could quite easily have added to the original entry. It may seem as if I'm lumping two female fronted indie bands together for the sake of it here, but the reality is just that more material of theirs showed up quite recently.

Marnie - Voices/ Vision

Artist/ Title: Marnie: "Voices/ Vision"
Label: Progression
Year of Release: 1996

First out of the traps here is Marnie. I put out a request for further information about them last time around, and got no responses at all from anybody. I will repeat my plea again now - it's extremely rare for any band, however marginal, to simply "disappear from view" after they released a few records in the nineties. Most acts from that era leave a dirty great Internet snail trail, or are such keen vanity Googlists that they pop up to say hello within weeks of you posting the original entry. Unlike the sixties hippies and beat bands, they don't simply get dayjobs running pet supply stores and forget that anything ever happened. This single is really more of the same scratchy, angsty melodrama from the girls known as Olga and Michelle, with the same snappy A-side/ doomy, atmospheric B-side combination as their last release. Once again, Roman Jugg out of The Damned was at the producer's controls, but beyond that I know nothing. Come on, somebody must have seen Marnie live once or have something to report about them.

Blessed Ethel - Dog

Artist/ Title: Blessed Ethel: Dog (b/w "Something Weird" and "Crystal Tips")
Label: 2 Damn Loud
Year of Release: 1993

Then, of course, there's Blessed Ethel, the band who famously beat Oasis in a Battle of the Bands contest, winning a battle but plainly failing to win the war.

Information on them is rather more conclusive since they generated quite a bit of press at the time, but I have nothing much to add beyond my last entry. "Dog" is a bit psychotic, sounding part Suzi Quatro, part grunge fed through a variety of gnarling studio effects.

Download it Here

End of update. Soz kids - there is some new stuff waiting in the wings, but I'm waiting until I've got a decent enough pile of it before I have a vinyl ripping session.


Klepsie said...

Here's a possible further crumb for you regarding Marnie: today I picked up a white-label promo of what appears to be a further single by them, "In Yer Dreams" c/w "Billy James" (sides labelled A and AA respectively). The 7" came in a plain white sleeve with "Marnie" on the front in marker pen, and on the back (in the same writing and thinner pen as the labels are written in) we have "Battle-Ox-Records, 01233 630482 (Promo)". To save you looking it up, 01233 is the STD code for Ashford, Kent. Googling for Marnie is still as fruitless as you presumably found it when you blogged about them; I confess my face fell when I found your posts. ("If LATTB can't find anything out they must be REALLY obscure...")

23 Daves said...

In a similar vein, my heart leapt then promptly sank again when I got the alert for your comment, as I thought it might have been from an ex-band member and we might be closer to solving this mystery!

For what it’s worth, here’s the very little I’ve managed to find out since:

Firstly, throughout the seventies, eighties and nineties Jungle Records (who Progressive seemed to be a subsidiary of) had a reputation in the industry for being a “shop window” indie label – they frequently used the label as an outlet for bands they either managed or had a vested interest in, then tried to sell them on to major labels as soon as interest grew to a sufficient level. That doesn’t tell us much, admittedly, but it may explain why there was a brief flurry of press and radio play around the band followed by a sudden massive drop in exposure (presumably nobody was much interested in taking the act off their hands). Massive assumptions here, obviously... which are all I have to go on.

Secondly, I did initially suspect that one of the band members (Michelle) might actually be an ex-member of an Essex based band I featured on here some time ago. This was based on nothing more than her having the right first name (we don’t know her second name), Roman Jugg’s production involvement (he lived in the same area at the time), Marnie’s activity starting at around the right year, and also an old mailing list address I had for Progressive Records which applied to the right town. However, the Ashford phone number you’ve given me here throws that into more doubt, and in any case... there are quite a few people called Michelle in the world.

I missed my chance to see Marnie live on the one occasion they visited the town I lived in, and have never actually seen a press publicity photo for them, and nor did I ever get around to joining their mailing list. Therefore, I have nothing on them, and no answers. I’d be grateful if one of the band members, or even somebody who knew or worked with the band, would drop me a comment to put me out of my misery. Musicians can sometimes be reluctant to provide historical information about themselves online, which I can understand (one eighties indie musician has even begged me not to upload an early record of his under any circumstances) but a few basic facts would probably bring relief to a few readers in this case! And anyway, these records are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

Oh, and I never knew about that white label you mentioned, either. Another piece of the puzzle. Is it any good?

Klepsie said...

I *ahem* must confess I don't have a working turntable at the moment! Which makes buying second hand vinyl something of an exercise in insanity, but I never claimed to be sane.

I shall probably add the white label find to 45cat.com shortly and let the experts there chew it over. They've already gone into a feeding frenzy over "Ted Heath's Record"...

23 Daves said...

Yep, feed it to the 45 Cats (as I affectionately call them, largely to myself) and see what they say. I'll probably keep an eye on their responses.

Klepsie said...

Et voila:

Klepsie said...

Aha! Here's some more for ya...

I found a Roman Jugg discography that includes his production work here:

Note that that gives a third Marnie single, "You Come From Everywhere/Unburdened", and that finally gives us a surname for "Michelle": Michelle Bappoo.

Plug that thankfully unusual surname into Google, and she's all over the place. I leave it to you where you want to go with that...

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passepartout78 said...

Hello! Could you reup Marnie? Thank you very much for your precious blog.

23 Daves said...

Job done! Surprised I hadn't reuploaded this one already, tbh.

passepartout78 said...

Thank you very much