The history of Creation Records can easily be spilt into two parts, either side of the success of Oasis.
The pre-era reached its zenith over a blisteringly hot London weekend back in 1988 when a gig, a compilation album and two incredible singles were released.
The gig was on Sunday 7 August at the Town & Country Club, which at the time was the place for name indie bands to perform but with a capacity of more than 2,000 was an ambitious booking for Creation even when the plan was to open the doors at 4pm and have eight bands play full sets under the banner of Doing It For The Kids.
Judging by what photos are around from the day, it looks as if plenty of tickets were sold, aided no doubt by the fact that a number of the bands were being heavily pushed by the then highly influential UK weekly music papers. However, the one on-line review that I’ve been able to find, written by the now famous Simon Reynolds, would indicate that the event was more miss than hit with many punters going home a bit disgruntled. Here’s some edited extracts on the minus side:-
Heidi Berry…harks back to the islet of troubled AOR occupied in the early Seventies by Sandy Denny and John Martyn
Jasmine Minks….the singer sounds like he’s gargling a sock, and ultimately theirs is a thin-lipped and ill-fitting appropriation of “the Sixties”. I never saw a band leave the stage so lackadaisical and unemphatic a manner.
Nikki Sudden….. shuffles on for a couple of rather scrappy blues numbers
Jazz Butcher………. gains a point for sounding comparatively robust, but loses several for his Jennings-and-Darbyshire/Robyn Hitchcock Englishness, and for his session-standard saxophonist.
Primal Scream…..their moment has long passed.. They’ve abandoned the gossamer fragility of “Crystal Crescent” and “Gentle Tuesday” for a blues that sags but never approaches the ponderousness and tumescent turgidity attained by various visionary white bastardizations of R&B. Gillespie’s voice just doesn’t have the grain for raunch, can only sing ba-ba-ba Bay City Rollers tunes; he crouches low, wigs out in that boneless, rag-doll manner of his, a flailing cod-dementia, willing it to be as good as the old days.
To be fair, the review is complimentary about the next three bands on the bill – Felt, House of Love and My Bloody Valentine and you get the impression that if the gig had been restricted to these three bands, within the standard evening hours for such things, Simon would have declared a it a total triumph.
But the most cutting remarks are left for the band who came on last and in essence were the headliners – Biff Bang Pow!
The event peters out with a bit of malarkey involving a cut-out Alan McGee and Joe Foster attempting to lead a singalong of “We Are the World”. The “no encore” rule (to ensure each act doesn’t over-run) is observed even at the end, leaving the crowd restive and frustrated.
Overall impression: a sense of “now” being eclipsed, drained vampirically by the past and its stature; the loss of the present moment through being made to seem impoverished next to the history it was umbilically bound to. Only The House of Love and My Bloody Valentine know that you have to torch the whole heap of pop signs and totems, rather than shuffle them about a bit. Only those two bands brought back the sudden quickening of “NOW” that eluded us most of the time today.
The following day, 28 years ago today, Creation put out a 15-track album, also called Doing It For The Kids, for the price of a 7” single. All of the bands/singers who performed at the T&C were featured along with eight others, many of who were already being acknowledged as being mere footnotes, and miniscule ones at that, in the annals of indie-pop.
1. The Jasmine Minks – Cut Me Deep
2. Felt -Ballad Of The Band
3. The House Of Love – Christine
4. The Weather Prophets – Well Done Sonny
5. Primal Scream – All Fall Down
6. Biff Bang Pow! – She Paints
7. The Jazz Butcher – Lot 49
1. Heidi Berry – North Shore Train
2. Nikki Sudden – Death Is Hanging Over Me
3. My Bloody Valentine – Cigarette In My Bed
4. Pacific – Jetstream
5. The Times – Godevil
6. Momus – A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17-24)
7. Emily – Reflect On Rye
8. Razorcuts – Brighter Now
It’s a reasonable enough compilation which veers from having some tracks that have more than stood the test of time to those which are even more unlistenable now some 28 years later, but it passes the litmus test of bargain compilation albums as offering something for everyone.
The two singles released the next day have however, gone down in history as among the finest of their generation.
The label’s reputation was such that emerging bands such as Ride and Teenage Fanclub were keen to sign on the dotted line and then there was a bit of payola as Primal Scream proved all the critics wrong and became the first to fuse indie and dance in way that was really commercially successful. However, this didn’t mask the underlying problems of ever increasing debts from trying to run a bloated label, packed with acts who were always going to be a drain on resources, and so it was no surprise that half of the company was sold to Sony Records in 1992…..which, given that Oasis were just about to emerge so unexpectedly, proved to be a master stroke in terms of creating the necessary infrastructure and distribution networks to cope with demand.
It was just four years on from Doing It For The Kids but it may well as have been ancient history.