Yet another compilation by an indie-pop band from the late 80's is reeled off the Firestation Records production line. The little German label certainly has a big reputation for leaving no stone unturned in their quest to breathe new life into forgotten bands from yesteryear.
Their exploits this time have taken them to Newcastle and the self proclaimed Kings of Tyneside, The Honest Johns. The CD contains twelve tracks from the golden age of indie-pop (1986-1990), only two of which were released at the time.
There is no denying that the songs are very much of the era, but they tend to veer more towards Spandau Ballet in style than peers such as the Chesterfields, the Groove Farm or the excellent Desert Wolves. It might just be that front man Mark Lawson is a better vocalist than the vocalists in the above mentioned bands though!
Of the songs 'Perfect Girl' and 'Two Dead Marias' are probably the strongest but in keeping with all Firestation releases this is a fairly solid collection. Certainly worth adding to any indie-pop collection and the good news is that the band have reformed recently, after over 10 years out of the limelight, and will be back on the live trail early next year. Keep an eye out for them!
This Collection summarizes a good four years of music and is, on the whole, charming in the best pop-music sense. At the end of the 80s, the records of The Honest Johns stood side by side with the Housemartins or early Beautiful South. British pop with a shot of Northern Soul.
At first glance, the unobtrusive songs kid nobody and are, certainly, easy on the ear. It's true, they do not settle immediately in your head but then, all of a sudden, they come good.
At the time, The Honest Johns were on the good side the 80s - politically correct and likeable Pop.
By the way, that was the second time that the word "Pop" appeared in this Review. Any questions..?
8 out of 10
Berlin's Firestation Records are well-known and respected in the world of Indie Pop. What is pleasing is that they are obviously fans who aren't in it for the money. What would we do without such supporters of pop history? Well, we would probably have taken no notice of bands like Johnny Says Yeah, discussed recently, and, in this case, The Honest Johns from Newcastle Upon Tyne, England.
Meteor is a collection of songs from 1986 to 1990. We remember The Housemartins celebrated success with their "beat schrammel pop" and countless English singles published one after the other. The concept of Northern Soul was not properly invented yet, but bands like The Honest Johns just have something! Paul Heaton and Co could not have managed a better song than Judas In Me Singing. This is a Record for new and old fans alike.
By the way, these songs would fit in very well at your local Indie disco. Have a quiet word with your DJ and ask him to play something between the adorable "Homeboy" and "This Is Not A Song" by Frank & Walters. This does the job!
Listen to this album only once and you'd think typical 80s indie pop in the mould of The Housemartins. Seems nice, but it wouldn't stand out...
Anyway, facts first! The Honest Johns are from Newcastle Upon Tyne, England whose career initially lasted between 1986 and 1990...in 2001 Firestation Records, from Berlin, got in touch with The Honest Johns looking for songs to be included on the infamous Sound of Leamington Spa series. 16 songs were sent over the North Sea from which Judas In Me Singing made it onto Volume II. That leaves 15 songs left. 11 of them plus Judas are "Meteor 1986/90" which has just been released by Firestation Records, who were obviously suitably impressed.
So, back to the beginning! Listen to this album only once or twice and these songs will rush out of your head but listen to it over and over again and these songs will stick...this album becomes worth hearing!
Hollywood Affair is simply beautiful. Two Dead Marias is a hit! Dust and Lungs and Wings is not only Housemartins, but half Go Between's with a simple arty bassline somehow reminding me of minimal techno. I have to ask myself "did they really want it like that or is it completely accidental?" For example, the production on Sunday City Misery is not exactly what you would call good, it sounds quite lo-fi...same with Winding Road. Is it bad taste or irony?
Basically, it doesn't matter! There's much to discover on Meteor and, if it's accidental or not, you should decide that for yourself! Maybe the new album scheduled for 2006 will shed some light on all these questions. The Honest Johns are a bit older now and are currently recording new songs. I am curious.
ebay sellers review
One of the hits of the compilation album 'The Sound Of Leamington Spa Volume 2' was "Judas In Me Singing" by The Honest Johns. This album features 12 brilliant Guitar Pop tunes. Included are: "Winding Road" & "Sunday City Misery" from their excellent 12-inch "Grandfather Of Gold", the aforementioned track from 'The Sound Of Leamington Spa' compilation and a lot of other perfect pop songs that let one think of The Bluebells, Prefab Sprout, Friends Again or Tears For Fears. Released 2005 on Firestation Records, catalogue number: FST 066. TRACKS LISTING: 1. Judas In Me Singing 2. Around and Around 3. Perfect Girl 4. Giant 5. Hollywood Affair 6. Faith 7. Sister 8. Two Dead Marias 9. Dust and Lungs and Wings 10. Sunday City Misery 11. Swans 12. Winding Road REVIEW: Gosh, another brilliant re-release from the glory days of UK indiepop. The Honest Johns were around first between 1986 – 1990. During that period the band recorded some of the finest indiepop tunes ever. Only one 12” was released before the band split up in the early 90ies only to reform a couple of years ago. “Meteor” contains 12 wonderful recordings from their back catalogue. Most of them are unreleased until today. The band is well known for their amazing classic “Judas In Me Singing” which was first heard on 'The Sound Of Leamington Spa Vol. 2' compilation. RECOMMENDATION: For friends of Sarah Records, C86, Siesta, Elefant, Matinee, Heavenly (label and band), The Coral, New Rhodes, The Housemartins, Brilliant Corners, Maximo Park, Mighty Mighty, Desert Wolves, Franz Ferdinand, The Bravery, The Smiths, Aztec Camera, The Jam, Orange Juice, Shack, Pale Fountains.
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