Thursday, 10 January 2008

Boys Wonder "Shine On me" (Expanded Second Movement) (Sire Records 12", 1987)

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Cast your mind back, gentle reader, to when you first heard about Oasis. Remember what we were promised? Well, we were promised the "Sex Beatles"(It's in there somewhere). That was the phrase that Creation's PR department had managed to get the press to use; the "Sex Beatles". Let's face it, which self-respecting journalist wouldn't have jumped on the phrase? It promised the best of two of our most iconic acts: the swagger, punky attitude and insouciance of The Sex Pistols, and the wonderful pop melodies of The Beatles- perfection!

But what did we get? Well, we certainly didn't get The Sex Beatles. In fact, after we'd got about halfway through "Definately Maybe", there were a great many people who'd realised we'd actually been sold The Eater Clark Five. Damn.

What fools we all were then, not to notice that the "Sex Beatles" had actually happened a few years before. They'd emerged, in a flash of brio and hype, in a swirl of flashy clothes and oik accents, with manifestos, tunes, Les Pauls blazing, and harmonies ringing in our ears.They had the swagger of the Pistols, the pure pop knowledge of the Beatles: they had it all, and weren't afraid to shout it from the rooftops: trouble was, not enough people were prepared to listen. In another time and another place, Liam and Noel would be running a pound shop in Burnage, and Boys Wonder would have played to several ecstatic sold out crowds in Knebworth's sumptuous grounds. But it wasn't to be. But why? Honestly, I haven't got a clue.

The heart of the band was the Addison twins, Ben and Scott. I had the pleasure of meeting them when I worked at the Rough Trade shop, and they came in to do a gig. You couldn't hope to meet two more committed and passionate pop fans. I remember we spent a good half hour rhapsodising about the healing power of the seven inch single, with Ben reserving particular space in his heart for all his Small Faces EP's, and all of us arguing about the best Label designs ever. They were sharply dressed, but had sharper pop minds, their enthusiasm and energy sparking out of them as they sat behind the shop's tiny counter. We met a number of times in the next couple of years, when my band was taking off, and they always had the time of day for me, were always incredibly polite and interested in how I was doing, never jealous that I had appeared to fluke some sort of success whilst Boys Wonder never really took off. I had a lot of time for them then, and have followed their careers with interest ever since.

This particular single, their second, is as perfect a snapshot of both their style and their substance as you will find. The guitar riff bursts in like The Clash on "Jail Guitar Doors", but ten times bigger. The snotty vocals talk of a pride in our country, without ever sinking into stereotyping, or worse, racial slurs. The song is a celebration of our diversity, a flag-waving, chest-beating fist in the sky about how great it is to live here, with all the other races and peoples who've made this such a unique place in the world. Many have tried to do it, but this is (along with "Waterloo Sunset", which is WAY more parochial) probably the most perfect summation of national pride I've ever heard. This particular version is the 12", for that EXTRA dose of swagger: the Clanger/Winstanley production is an absolute "Kitchen Sink" job: just when you think it probably couldn't get any louder; it gets louder.

To see them doing the song live, check this out, but try not to punch your screen when Ben Elton introduces them......

And, the crazy thing is, it's not even their finest moment. That belongs to a later single "Goodbye Jimmy Dean" (which I'll post soon). But for now, if you're not acquainted with Boys Wonder, this is a great place to start.

And what became of them? Well, Ben And Scott went on to be lynch-pins of the arch, but wonderful Acid Jazz outfit Corduroy, who reformed last year. More info on them can be found here and a good place to start with their albums would be to check this out.

Boys Wonder "Shine On Me" (Expanded Second Movement) (mp3)


19 comments:

Mick said...

First of all, Iain, welcome back and Happy New Year!

I haven't had a chance to listen to this yet and to be honest it's time for me to go to bed, but even in the unlikely event that I don't like it I'll still be glad I read this post for that Eater Clark Five comment. Brilliant.

iain said...

Cheers Mick, the best writing is always the stuff I never really think about, and this was definately the case here: a couple of beers, whack on one of my favourite records, and write down how it made me feel and think.

Anonymous said...

Damn, Iain, this is flat-out amazing. Thanks for sharing yet another gem that I sadly missed the first time around.

iain said...

Well, if you liked that one, you'll like the other one as well! just posted the "Goodbye Jimmy Dean" single, which is just AWESOME, enjoy!

skel said...

Super single, maybe the best of all the 'post-punk' attampts to revive what had died a few years before. Just don't mention their first effort, the insipid 'Now What Earthman''. I never did find out why the Shine on Me track had the Pistols-related lyrics expunged. I guess that move was legally enforced by McLaren? It would be great to know....
For what it's worth, whenever I see this in the crates at a flea market, I cannot resist paying 50p or whatever trifling sum to spare it the indignity of nestling among the dross... I have 6 copies now.

iain said...

Oh.My.God.
There's someone else who does the same things as me!! I do that with about a dozen forgotten pop gems: as soon as I see them at a boot sale, or whatever, i'll buy them, solely to save them from spending the rest of their lives next to a copy of "No Parlez"
Respect.
:)

Darren said...

Cracking tune, and you're right that they should have been bigger than they were.

However, the spoken bit at the start is still a bit cringeworthy after all this time. What were they thinking?

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad some people are beginning to realise what a superb band Boys Wonder were - why they were never massively sucessful is a mystery. I guess its a case of right place right time - if they had been making records in the mid-90s they would have been huge. I met a guy online who copied loads of BW tunes for me (I only had a few of their records) - its great stuff. Thanks for posting such a great article and introducing a few more people to this great band.

Anonymous said...

I love "Now what?..Earthman". It is Glam Stomp at it's best. beautiful to behold. Shine on just makes you wanna jump up and down though. I would like to hear a tape of a gig, they had loads of great songs incl. Stop it, Elvis'75 oh I can't remember, I've got a set list somewhere, I'll have to dig it out. They were the best (in my opinion) a great live act, but I can see why they got up people's noses, even by the way they dressed; The mods got it though. I like my music like they played it, New york dolls, Bow wow wow type of music reminding us that rock n rolls s'posed to be fun. I think that Hotrod was the B side of Goodbye Jimmy Dean, Hotrod had to be their best recorded song?

iain said...

Of all of the bands i've featured here on DWT, it looks like Boys Wonder have generated the most positive response, they genuinely seem to be one of those bands that were really cherished...
And there also seems to be a concensus that "Hot Rod" is a classic that NEEDS to be heard...so i'll post that one up soon as well :)

Anonymous said...

Viva Boys Wonder! Class.

Simon said...

Try http://boyswonder.bravehost.com for new Boys Wonder site.

Ben Wardle said...

Hi Iain - I've just discovered your blog whilst looking for images of Boys Wonder for a compilation of their stuff that I'm doing. The lovely Ben has managed to scrape together seven demos (as well as all 3 singles that were released) Sadly, there is no sign of Elvis 75 or Lady Hangover, which bizarrely I still remember from having seen them live once in 1987 or something. Anyway, it's encouraging to hear that others feel similarly about Boys Wonder out there - there are some people out in very senior record company positions who are massive fans, I can tell you. If anyone wants to contact me with other BW stuff you can reach me through my blog A&Rmchair http://benwardle.blogspot.com/

eaon said...

just discovered your blog. good work!
Ive been searching for that remix for a long time but your link has expired (hardly surprising as this post was nearly 2 yrs ago). Is the file anywhere else you could point to? cheers E

Chris Martin said...

Yeah, could do with a re-up on mediafire or something that lasts.

Wesley said...

Any chance for a repost?

pharmacy said...

Well, if you liked that one, you'll like the other one as well! just posted the "Goodbye Jimmy Dean" single, of national pride I've ever heard. This particular version is the 12", for that EXTRA dose of swagger: the Clanger/Winstanley production is an absolute "Kitchen Sink" job: just when you think it probably couldn't get any louder; it gets louder.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that great post, I think this band are amazing, not just the music but I love their look, they are the first band I think - even though they probably didn't do it - to really push a kind of mod look further - they were true modernists. And all the members were characters. Since these guys there really hasn't been anything as good...The only thing I didn't like about them was their name, sounds a bit suss...

Anonymous said...

I meant to say 'didn't mean to do it'