Friday, 10 August 2007

Camera Obscura "Destitution" (Small Wonder 1983)


First off, let's make one thing quite clear: it's not that Camera Obscura (not that there's anything wrong with them, I'd just hate people to get the two mixed up)
This Camera Obscura were a duo, Peter Oldroyd and Nigel James, from York. This single was their highpoint, and if truth be told, was their only real proper recorded output. They contributed a track to a compilation album called "Directions" which is utterly impossible to find...(I've been looking for quite a while)
"Destitution" was the last proper single to be released on Pete Stennet's legendary Small Wonder imprint, and made a decent showing in the independent charts on its release in 1983. There was a fair amount of A&R interest in the band, but nothing ever came of it.
Interestingly enough, for a band with such a slender catalogue and such a truncated career, there's an excellent history of the band on a site they've put up themselves:
Camera Obscura History.
Interestingly, the band appears to have had a recent burst of activity, which resulted in the production of an album of early demos being issued. It's a limited edition vinyl album, and is available here.
Sadly, the tracks on the single have never been re-issued anywhere, as a consequence it's another one of those postpunk electro-pop classics which now commands quite a high price on the secondhand market. It's a bit of a surprise to me really, I see copies of this single far more often than something like Puncture's "Mucky Pup" which was the first Small Wonder 7", but hey ho.
The song itself is another one of those timelocked early 80's synthpop classics. Just the right amount of alienation and melancholia in the lyrics, and crucially, lots of syn-drums, so you could air-drum along in your bedroom.
It's been a week for cult electro-pop hasn't it? Now I've given you a trilogy of synth tunes, I'll be casting the net a little wider next week, but for now; enjoy this, and have a great weekend.

Camera Obscura "Destitution" (mp3)

9 comments:

Mick said...

Even better than yesterday’s song. I haven’t heard this before either. As far as I’m concerned you can go posting cult timelocked early 80's synthpop classics until you run out of them. You may have gathered it’s one of my favoured genres : )

Rob said...

This is greatm Iain!

iain said...

Cheers :)
wiil link to your blog too........

Anonymous said...

For a man who hates films you've started your mp3 blog with a bit of a cinemagraphic theme fella!!! :-)))

So It Goes said...

Yeah, knew Mick would like this, so do I. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Bauhaus' 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' om this label too?

iain said...

Yup, probably sold more than all the other singles on Small Wonder put together......

Anonymous said...

Blimey - first I find the Fallout Club entry, and now this - yet another track I've only ever had on a manky old tape of a John Peel show. Superb! Keep this up please!

Nick

John said...

I'm probably well late with this comment, since it seems everyone spoke about this track in 2007! However, thanks Iain for pointing out that my 7" copy of this great single is now worth a bit! It is a really great song. Two bits of info to add:- if you do like this synth-pop stuff try finding an mp3 or vinyl copy of Pictures Like This' "A Night's Vendetta" released circa Spring 83. I have both so can oblige if required! Secondly on the subject of Small Wonder Records, people should look out for The Carpettes "Small Wonder" single which is sheer post-punk fun from 1978! In November that year, I got to interview Pete Stennett, SW label & shop owner for a thesis I had to write on independent record labels and he said the band first heard themselves on John Peel with this record and did dodgy somersaults on an underground station platform managing to close the line down because LT thought it was a riot! Heady days! John

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