The Darling Buds – Killing For Love: Albums, Singles, Rarities, Unreleased 1987-2017 (Cherry Red)

The Darling Buds – Killing For Love: Albums, Singles, Rarities, Unreleased 1987-2017 (Cherry Red)

Picture the scene, it was 1986 and the NME included a compilation cassette, C86 on the cover of their magazine. This followed several previously released compilations. It was said that this marked the beginning of indie. Who’d have thought that a pivotal music scene would have come out of a cover-mounted compilation cassette, a cassette that now fetches a pretty penny on a popular auction site?

The Darling Buds were one of those bands that featured, a band formed in Caerleon, Wales in 1986 with its rumbling bass line, steady beat and female vocal that fronted the sound. Capturing the zeitgeist, it was a sound with elements we still listen to today and from all comers. They named the band after English writer H.E.Bates’ novel, The Darling Buds of May, this being the third line in Shakespeare’s ‘Sonnet 18’, where he wrote “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May… ” and from this, the band were born and no better description could they have chosen.

With that, perhaps we should expect a literary element to their sound, but as with the great bard himself, these are sounds that relate to popular culture, or as we know it now, just “pop”. From singing songs of going out at the weekend in the likes of ‘Just To Be Seen’, that possesses a light refrain of the chorus, with darker elements reflected in the music of the verses. Others reflect the fundamentals of youth, with songs like ‘Valentine’. These are just a few of the tracks found on the first disc, The Early Years laying out music played by this young band, with tracks collected from their first two singles, the flexi disc Spin and the compilation that became their second album Shame on You (The Native Years) and three Leeds Demos, ‘Shame On You’, ‘Mary’s Got To Go and the song I mentioned earlier ‘Just To Be Seen’. I could describe the early recordings as pretty wild, with musical elements perhaps heard on future recordings by the likes of Thousand Yard Stare, or Bleach, to name but a couple.

The Darling Buds were a band when the sounds of indie were in their ascendancy and sounds that would write the history of youth in the ’80s and beyond. Of this 5-disc set, it’s the band’s first album that features next and on the second CD an enhanced version can be heard. The original 12 tracks now become 22, one more than from the 2006 re-release, the additional track being the 12″ version of the first number on the album ‘Hit The Ground’. With their tendency to reflect the bass rumblings of The Wedding Present in their earlier years, the music here contains a lighter refrain, and it feels wonderful to describe this as pop and certainly provides what it says on the tin. The album’s original 12 tracks are a glorious portrayal of what was happening in music.

From ‘Hit The Ground’, ‘Big Head’ and finishing on ‘Things We Do For Love’, the band certainly provided a good insight into the alternative side of ‘Pop’ of the late ’80s. The final track finishes on what I can only describe as possessing elements similar to The Beatles‘A Day in the Life’ runout groove. Hardly music but a series of sampled voices and back mastering; a wonderful slice of a bygone era, meeting what was the current. The remaining expanded content begins with the track ‘Just Say So’ and is a glorious ride on an indie rollercoaster. With a constant jangly guitar providing the base to vocalist Andrea Lewis’s vocal, this is as good an indie tune as any I’ve heard. I also have to mention the following track, the Slightlydelic Version of ‘Shame On You’. I’ve heard this on a number of occasions so far today, but this offers a ’60s psyche vibe to the original song, a version only possible from the recording tapes I would suggest. ‘Different Daze’ another track available from the expanded content, caught my ear. This is a fast-paced tune with surf-rock pretenses, leading into the Flip Flop Version of ‘It’s All Up To You’, a track which speaks with a hip-hop tongue, verging on rap. This was a sound that Pop Will Eat Itself made their own, but has been adapted by others following its release.

The band’s final two albums are available here, as Crawdaddy-plus and Erotica-plus, are both included, with the plus referring to the expanded content that has been assembled. These two affairs were produced by the legendary Stephen Street, recognised for his work with The Smiths in the ’80s. I think this involvement can be heard the moment you tune in to Crawdaddy, the smooth, yet confident air Street has managed to attain is laid bare. I see that this first recording achieved a lesser rating, as did the following release, than their debut  Pop Said…, but feel this was unfair as both these recordings can stand tall. On Crawdaddy, from ‘It Makes No Difference’ to ‘The End Of The Beginning’, the album is fully engaging and as its content is very well produced and certainly spoke of the time it was made I’m surprised it didn’t receive more plaudits on its release. This album is certainly up there. The additional content on the plus release, is a series of B-sides and versions and I can hear just why. Both these albums act like a time machine, into the late ’80s early ’90s, a very good time machine. Both of these albums are excellent.

Erotica is less urgent than its predecessor, but with Street in charge of production, like Crawdaddy it is an album you will find fully engaging and I can’t understand why it didn’t see the band to their fourth studio album. If anything, with a goth tone to the sound this album is if anything certainly up there with anything else recorded at the time. This version contains a further five tracks, which are solid in their composition, no rough edges here. And thus we have, with those words sung by the band’s vocalist the rallying cry taken from the track ‘Just To Be Seen’, “…We’re going out tonight, going to a place We need to dance more and dance more and dance.” Reference; Thousand Yard Stare


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