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NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 10 of 48)

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The Raw Herbs were a four-piece London band who released most of their material in what was a very brief career on Medium Cool, a Manchester-based label. The members were Derek Parker (vocals, guitar), Kevin Bache (guitar), Steven Archibald (bass), and Brian Alexis (drums).

There were just four singles during their two-year existence between 1986 and 1988 but they were regarded highly enough to also score a Radio 1 session for Janice Long who, at the time, broadcast in the early evening slot. The track on CD86 is in fact a b-side from their final single recorded for Rooster Records which, as far as I can tell, was their own label as I haven’t been able to find anything else released on that particular imprint:-

mp3 : The Raw Herbs – He Blows In

I’ve been able to track down the A-side of the 45:-

mp3 : The Raw Herbs – The Second Time

They’re decent enough quality indie-pop without being ground-breaking.  And the a-side is better than the track included on CD86.

The lead singer went on to be part of a group called Horse Latitudes who, in 1990, released an LP entitled September Songs on Cherry Red Records. This particular band should, on no account be confused with a more recent combo using the same name – they are a death metal outfit from Finland and about as far removed from the C86 sounds as imaginable.

I’ve also learned that the drummer died in 2011 after suffering a deep-vein thrombosis.

Here’s a link to a fan site.

CULT CLASSICS – ‘SHE’S A NURSE…’ by THE RAW HERBS

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Dear JC,

The news that you’ve run out of contributions for your Cult classics feature has finally spurred me into penning a few words (I thought you’d be inundated so I kept putting it off) – I hope you can still find room for it. Keep up the good work!

Misterprime

I first came across The Raw Herbs’ excellent single ‘She’s a Nurse’ on a compilation cassette called ‘Strum ‘n’ Drum’ given away with the short-lived indie magazine ‘Underground’ in, I think, 1987 and it remained, as far as I was concerned, a tantalising one-off until such a time as the internet came along and allowed all of us sad, anoraky types to finally chase down some of our little accumulated musical obsessions.

Apparently this East London band were only with us for a few short years in the late eighties before disappearing, as is the way, into the musical ether, despite having seemingly impeccable indie credentials: their first single, ‘Old Joe’, was a flexi disc and their third, ‘Don’t Bury Me Yet’, cracked the indie top twenty, both were on Manchester’s Medium Cool label. Unfortunately the fourth single – a 12″ entitled ‘The Second Time’ on their own Rooster Records – was also their last and, apart from a Janice Long Session and a few other oddments that you can pick up trawling the net, that’s the band’s whole slim legacy.

That said, all of their releases display in fine style that trademark eighties-indiepop jangle offset perfectly with a beautifully yearning, slightly braying vibrato vocal and occasional touches of harmonica, banjo and fiddle suggesting wider horizons and a possible interest in the country-twang of early ramshackle rock’n’roll.

‘She’s a Nurse…’ was the band’s second single (as more mathematically minded readers may already have deduced) and is narrowly the pick of the bunch, heralded by a propulsive harmonica-led twanging intro and coming on like a less cocksure, more Sarah Records version of the La’s, with vocalist Derek Parker seemingly unable to believe his own good fortune – not only is she a nurse, but “…she’s alright!” The Medium Cool singles were available as downloads on Amazon last time I looked (‘So Wired’, the languid b-side to ‘She’s a Nurse’, makes up a pitch-perfect 7″ package) and recent inclusions on the CD86 (‘He’s Blown In’, a ‘Second Time’ b-side )and ‘Scared To Get Happy’ (‘…Nurse’) compilations would seem to indicate that I’m not the only person who still remembers them.

All that’s needed now is for someone at LTM or Cherry Red to licence the whole catalogue and issue it on one handy-sized CD compilation – that’s an album that I already rank, in imaginary form, in my indiepop Top Ten, along with the likes of ‘Stardust’ by the Sea Urchins, ‘Snowball’ by the Field Mice, ‘Lyceum’ by the Orchids, Another Sunny Day’s ‘London Weekend’ or the Popguns’ ‘Snog.’

mp3 : The Raw Herbs – She’s A Nurse But She’s Alright

JC adds….anyone else that wants to submit a cult single and keep the Moz series at bay is more than welcome to drop me a line.