8 January 2011
The Apples - Eye Wonder
Year of Release: 1991
Like just about every so-called alternative scene in the world, from psychedelia to punk to grunge to Britpop, a lot of major labels got out their cheque books for various baggy bands so late that by the time their records were released, both the mainstream and indie markets had utterly lost interest. CBS and their sister label Epic were spectacular late-runners, dipping deep into their bank accounts for the likes of Liverpool's The Real People and Rain right at the point where other major labels were considering culling anything indie in its stylings off their roster. Ill-advised A&R matters clearly didn't stop at the banks of the River Mersey either, as Scottish indie-dance shufflers The Apples were also given a contract around the same time.
To cut Epic a tiny bit of slack here, there's a sound to "Eye Wonder" which points more towards Jesus Jones and EMF than it does The Roses or the Mondays. Those sampler pressing digits are clearly incredibly itchy indeed, and the angular guitar riffs chop in around some very bass heavy grooves rather than being a constant feature. It also has a slick, smooth production which, were it not for the subcultural nods around it, wouldn't sound out of place on a Jamiroquai single.
It mattered not, however, as "Eye Wonder" caused The Apples to join the small and unenviable league of bands who only managed one week at number 75 in the UK charts then never created a follow-up "hit". Judging by the sheer volume of copies I saw of this in bargain bins for months after its release, Epic were also patently overly optimistic about the quantities they needed to press. There are serious lessons here any A&R executive would do well to learn - but it doesn't stop "Eye Wonder" from being a pleasant piece of period work which quite a few baggy fiends do try to track down now.
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