Year of Release: 1986
It's a well-known fact to any indie aficionado that 1986 was a year where endless singles in childishly designed sleeves suddenly fell into branches of small independent record stores. The accepted wisdom was that the contents of each would be either be naive approximations of The Smiths performed on Argos guitars, or deeply fragmented, barking mad experimental discs.
The truth in fact frequently differs, and whilst The Smiths had gained affections amongst a certain kind of British musician, and there were also a few eccentrics out there who suddenly had the easy means to distribute their wares, there were also plenty of bands heavily tuned in to the alternative rock being dispensed by the Paisley Underground and the Bunnymen, Julian Cope, REM, The Cure et al. Plenty of them also had bugger all money, so chose to stick their recordings out in decidedly handmade sleeves. That all of them seem to have fallen by the wayside when it comes to blogs and websites examining this sort of thing has more to do with the fickle finger of fashion than much else (unless their records came out on Creation Records, in which case all seems to be forgiven).
So then - The Doctor's Children seemingly hailed from South London, and appeared to be taking a strident, melodic Bunny kind of path as opposed to the Smithsian one which supposedly dominated at the time. This record is filled with punchy guitar noises and droning organs which recall the more melancholic end of sixties pop. Whilst there's nothing truly outstanding going on across the four tracks here, fans of independent music from that era might do well to lend their ears to this - not only was it produced by John Leckie, three years shy of discovering the Stone Roses, it also has a certain clean, carefree drive that has all but disappeared from alternative rock in the decades since. Almost all the tracks contain clear, ringing chords and hollered vocals - the high point for me is the chiming Autumnal moodiness of "Blessed is the Man".
The Internet is rather shy about providing much more information about the band, and all I can really glean from the limited scraps available is that Sounds magazine rated them highly and predicted they would conquer all before them (which obviously never happened), that somebody financed an American tour for them (so they did better than a lot of other UK indie acts of the same period who were not granted permits), and that they released an album called "King Buffalo". That's it. If anybody has anything more, they know what to do.
According to the sleeve, the band's line up consisted of:
Paul Smith - Guitar, vocals
Matthew Woodman - Organ, Piano
Dave Ramsey - Bass
Rowland Howarth - Drums
1. Rose Cottage
2. Me, September 24th 1983
3. Blessed is the Man
4. When I Was Young
This blog entry was originally uploaded in September 2009, and lo and behold, the band actually did get in touch with me for once. They informed me that Paul Smith went on to front King Buffalo and Helter Skelter, Matt Woodman sang on the Mother Earth album "The Further Adventures of Mother Earth", and Doctors Children eventually acquired a drummer called Fabian Jolivet who sounded like a colourful character ("He carried a knife in his back pocket").
Rowland Howarth claims to have left the band due to 'religious and football differences' and says that Go! Discs were discussing whether to sign Doctor's Children or The Housemartins, and obviously signed the latter. He presently plays folk clubs, is a worship leader, and last saw Matthew Woodman when he 'gave me a thing for bleeding radiators'.
If only all bands could be as forthcoming with information as this lot, rather than hiding away like the enigmas they so frequently seem to want to be...