#744: 1986, The Pastels, Truck Train Tractor

by George_East on August 23, 2013

I know that Scottish week is in theory over, but I only got one pick from all of the riches that have been produced north of the border and so I thought I’d extend it by one day.   In my last post on Orange Juice’s debut, Falling and Laughing I made a passing reference to Stephen Pastel and his 53rd and 3rd record label (named after the classic Ramones‘ track about rent boys on their debut album) that was much part of the  C86 scene in the mid-1980s.

C86 was a free tape given away with the NME called just that (named after an earlier tape, C81) in 1986.  It came to represent a certain indie sound and indie ethic – the bands often using feedback and buzzsaw guitars, but also heavily influenced by the perfect pop song melodies (and haircuts) of classic sixties bands like the Byrds.  The very definition of old school indie. The bands were also very much about singles and not albums, often signed to tiny do it yourself labels, with a fanzine aesthetic.  It was also known for a while as the Shambling scene.  The tape included early material by Primal Scream, The Wedding Present and The Mighty Lemon Drops.  Many of the bands on it would become the soundtrack to my Sixth Form years.

Glasgow’s The Pastels (who bizarrely didn’t record anything for 53rd and 3rd) were probably the progenitors of much of this scene – having released a series of very obscure singles from the early 1980s, most of which had a couple of plays by John Peel but died a death in sales terms.  They did though become influential far beyond their sales, being adopted as almost the house band of the fanzine writers who emerged in that period.

Truck Train Tactor was perhaps their finest moment – though amazingly they are still going and have only a couple of months back released their first album since 1997.

It brings back many many happy memories – including bunking off school to get the train to London to see them at the Astoria that very year – there were more bowl hair cuts at that gig than at a Roger McGuinn looky-likey convention.


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