5 May 2008

The Pastels - Crawl Babies/ Coming Through

Track: Crawl Babies
Year: 1987

Track: Coming Through
Year: 1987

One of those "Cor blimey, they never bothered to make videos, did they?!" Youtube moments. It would seem that pop clips were made for both The Pastels singles "Crawl Babies" and "Coming Through", despite not even getting so much of a whiff of a stop, rewind and play on the Chart Show indie chart*. To be a reasonably well known indie band making videos in those days and not to get that treatment is almost an achievement in a way - frequently the only bands in the chart who had bothered to go MTV on our asses were New Order, Depeche Mode or Erasure, and so the choices were extremely limited.

The Pastels are so cultishly successful in the UK that I almost feel like cheating by adding them on this blog, but the truth is they've never really hit the Top 40 of either the album or singles chart, and in fact have never bothered the top 75. At one point they were a Creation Records band who were lumped in (entirely inappropriately) with the Jesus and Mary Chain, and another were known (either lovingly or mockingly) as a "twee, C86 band", then another as "mates of Belle and Sebastian", but none of it has ever actually seemed to do them any good throughout their long career.

I suspect that the central problem with the band is that whilst to my ears their looseness and Stephen Pastel's woozy, slightly Barretty vocals sounded quite appealing - akin, in fact, to at least a couple of bands on the "Wallpaper" psychedelic compilation I put on here a few entries ago - daytime Radio One and the general public just weren't ready for that sort of thing in the mainstream, especially in the eighties when they enjoyed the most publicity from the music press.

I interviewed Stephen Pastel ten years ago, and he assured me that he thought the Pastels could crossover into the charts, and very soon would be putting out some "hard hitting singles". He felt that with Cornershop at number one with "Brimful of Asha" and also Belle and Sebastian having a rabid army of fans, the time was right for a band like his. Despite a very pleasing collaboration with Jarvis Cocker in "I Picked A Flower", his scheme obviously came to nothing, and I can't help but think that's a shame. Perhaps there's time for them yet.

(*A quick check on the Youtube Chart Show databases reveals that the programme bypassed the chance to play "Coming Through" in November 1987 in favour of Nina Simone's "My Baby Just Cares For Me", which just happened to be out on an independent label at the time. I think we should all collectively tut as loudly as we can at this point).


Cocktails said...

Hello, just wanted to say that I've really enjoyed looking at your site (which, for your stats, I discovered thanks to Roman Empress).

You've enlightened me to the fact that the Pastels actually bothered to make videos and reminded me of TISM - who I saw live a couple of times and loved. Haven't thought about them in a long time...

23 Daves said...

Thanks very much!

I've never had the honour of seeing TISM live, unfortunately - they began the tour for their last album ("The White Albun" [sic]) just as I was leaving Australia. Doesn't look like I'll ever get the chance to see them either, so I'm slightly envious.

Cocktails said...

Ooh, I knew you'd spent quality time in Australia - there is no other way of explaining your mentioning of TISM or Russell Morris!

Simon said...

There's also a video for the much later Yoga, which is also on YouTube and MTV2's overnight show 120 Minutes plays once every blue moon.