Friday, 9 May 2014

Simply Thrilled : The Preposterous Story of Postcard Records

There I was, the other week or so, trying to whistle some tired, old Soft Machine tune in the shower when, after numerous attempts at said tune, I decided that I'd just whistle Orange Juice's 'Moscow' instead as I soaped
my various body parts. Ah! Orange Juice. A real breath of fresh air that band was. Mind you, at the time when Postcard Records was on the go I much preferred Josef K to the Edwyn Collins' fronted outfit. You could put
that down to my then Joy Division infatuation probably or maybe the fact that OJ were just a wee bit too pop-orientated for my taste. Well, anyhow, here we are 30-odd years later and Simon Goddard has just published a book; 'Simply Thrilled: The Preposterous Story of Postcard Records,' all about the origins and the outcome of the legendary, cult, Glasgow label.

 Nowadays, in todays superfast, internet buzz infected world, everybody is into everything. If you're not there you're afraid to be considered as some sad loser. You only have to look at the huge demand for tickets for the recent Kraftwerk shows and the upcoming Jesus and Mary Chain ones. Hipsters vying with the nostalgia-addled middle-aged. All clambering to pay ridiculous prices for gigs or bloated box-sets that have everything in them except for the kitchen sink. A kitchen sink that most band members probably only used to piss in anyway.

 At any rate, the first incarnation of Postcard Records, so far, has been mostly confined to a few small revivals through labels like Domino -with Josef K's 'Entomology' and Orange Juice's 'The Glasgow School' compilations- and the recently revived Les Disques du Crépuscule who reissued Josef K's 'The Only Fun in Town' a few weeks back. A box-set of all the Postcard singles from Cat. N° 80-1 to Cat. N° 81-8 (13 singles in all including one unreleased) doesn't appear to be on the cards.

A release of a box-set compilation (with a few facsimile trinkets included -like a miniature version of Alan Horne's infamous "sock drawer"- to keep the veteran or johnny-come-lately fans happy) is something I've always wondered about. Why has it never happened? Are there too many copyright issues? Is the participation or non-participation of some or other protaganist
preventing this? I've no idea myself but I imagine that with the recent wave of enthusiasm, brought on by Simon Goddard's highly-entertaining book, there would have been some sort of rush to "cash-in" and re-release these much sought after gems other than on yet another compilation cd.

Be that as it may, we at least have Goddard's book to take us back in time to the violent, dreary and dull pre-Postcard Glasgow of the Seventies. Though I don't really recall it as being as such. Except for the violence, of course. Mind you, I didn't live there and was only ever in the place for football games or the odd concert at the long-gone Apollo in Renfield Street. I'm sure that there are a few documentaries about life in 70s-styled No Mean City worth seeing but a wee keek at Neil Young busking in Glasgow would give you a wee glimpse of life in the city centre back then.

As in Goddard's book though, we all tend to have memories of things, places, and events that differ. You only have to listen to one person or another's story of an event or of how things were and happened to see just how subjective memory is.

Goddard's narrative relies entirely on memory or, more likely, selective memory, of how events were; how each protagonist recalls the who, what, when and wherefore of how things were. Events and what went on are mostly based on the two principal Postcard Records characters and founders of the label; Orange Juice's Edwyn Collins and self-styled Postcard supremo, Alan Horne.

Goddard's book is pretty much an enjoyable read; from a prologue which tells us all about the 'Cat Artist' Louis Wain and how one of his drawings of a kitten banging on a drum came to be the Postcard logo to the early days of the label, and finally to the post-postcard downfall. In brief, from the inception to the label's undoing in less than two years.

The account ends there. Even though the label was relaunched in 1992; producing some fine recordings over 5 years or so from the likes of Vic Godard, The Nectarine N°9, Paul Quinn  & The Independent Group before finally calling
it a day in 1997 with a final album release by Jock Scott and the aptly named 'My Personal Culloden'.

Goddard doesn't take the story any further. One can imagine that some day a second volume will appear where we'll get to learn about the part of Alan Horne's life that is mentioned in the afterword as well as the shenanigans behind and during the Postcard II era.

Like a good few others I imagine, it seems a bit lacking. I, for one, would have liked to have learned more about Janice Fuck and Greta. What became of them? As well as more from Clare Grogan and Paul Haig on how they saw and remembered things. What fans of the label and its bands have to say about events. How they saw things.

You can't have everything though and all in all, as I mention above, it's a pleasant read. A book well worth buying if you're interested in, or even remotely interested in all things Postcard.

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Once more, I'd like to thank Maria Hughes at Random House for sending me a copy of the book for review.

Simply Thrilled : The Preposterous Story of Postcard Records
Simon Goddard : Available @ Amazon

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