Week 68

cover

This Poison!

Magazine, 1986 - 1988

Egg Records

 

Half chiming, half gazing at slight overdrive; always fast, predominantly furious, sometimes self loathing, sometimes celebratory, occasionally immersed in disappointment, but never losing that sense of hopeful optimism, This Poison! unfortunately for the listeners are only making a slight return to our airwaves. "Magazine" compiles the bands two singles from their days on The Wedding Presents Reception Records, ('Engine Failure' and the semi-legendary, instantly recognisable indie kid anthem 'Poised Over The Pause Button'), and incorporates a wealth of unreleased material and demo recordings. It's a kind of 'Now That's What I Call 1986' for people who don't tolerate mainstream pop pap. If your purchases in 1986 were of Phil Collins and Madonna then you may as well stop reading now.

However, anyone who spent those teenage years during the '80's patronising Peel, or (where I was) listening to 'On The Wire' on B.B.C. Radio Lancashire (an unparalleled two hours of indie heaven every Sunday afternoon) will not only recognise This Poison! as purveyors of delicious, guitar driven indie pop, but they will also have an affinity with the sentiments of 'Paused Over The Pause Button', those anxious moments waiting for the next track to turn you upside down. I have boxes full of C-90's littered with these moments, technology has moved on and the notepad and pencil and the old ghetto blaster are no longer required in this dizzy world of online streaming, file sharing and downloading, and for that I feel that the kids are missing out, but with this re-issue the years are rolled back and we are back to when pop meant pop. Ladies and Gentlemen, It's time to party like it's 1986.

There is a glorious rudiment to this record, a feeling that was all too evident in the mid-eighties when the likes of This Poison, Bob, The Membranes, The Heart Throbs, The Rainkings, The Waltones et al were crafting intelligent, heartfelt pop sub-hits. I was fifteen in 1986 and I just thought that these bands were the norm, I thought that they would be around forever. I was too naive to realise that they were part of a movement that would one day blossom into a thriving sub-culture. I just went along to the gigs, bought the records, hung the posters and taped the songs off the radio. I just didn't' understand that one day, the songs that I loved would be virtually impossible to get hold of, but that is what they became. So with this series of re-issues Egg Records are finally putting some wonderful C-86 work on the map.

'Engine Failure' opens the record, a ninety eight second rollercoaster ride of a song. Originally their first single it immediately leaves you wanting more, maybe that was the plan? It sets the theme perfectly, This Poison! are not about being over elaborate, they are the complete anti-thesis of that early eighties incredulous over indulgence of the modern romantics. They kicked against the scene and in doing such ended up sounding fresh and vital. They did then and somehow they still do now.

'You Think' follows and then 'Poised Over The Pause Button', any one of my age and musical persuasion will instantly recognise the latter, even if you don't know that you know it, you will. It was one of those ever presents in the indie/student discos of my youth. You'll know it, love it and find its infectious pounding Argos drums and thrashing, chordal guitar riffing impossible to resist.

'I'm Not Asking' is a luscious love song which could show Sir Elton and the likes a thing or two about song writing. How people don't see the perfection in this is beyond me, This Poison! should be lauded as one of the things that remained great in a decade that was in the main destined for the dustbin. 'The Great Divide', 'Driving Skills' and 'Question Mark' all appeared elsewhere on compilation albums, perhaps most notably 'Airspace' that feature other song writing success stories as The Field Mice, Cud, The Close Lobsters and The Groove Farm. A great band, in great company.

'Workout' (two versions of which are included), 'Idoleyes' and 'St. Johnstoun' all show off a band in their element. There doesn't appear to be any huffing and puffing of bloated egos, there is no posturing and preening, just a good old guitar band throwing out great guitar band tracks.

In all this is a composite collection that scans well as an album in it's own right, and with the addition of demo versions of 'Loose Kin' and 'Hampstead Heath' we glimpse a vision of what could have been if things had been different and This Poison! had gone on to bigger things. They are one of those bands who seem to have been around way before their time, if they were teenagers putting these songs out today, then I find it hard not to believe that they would be gracing our screens during the new Sunday evening T.O.T.P. and Popworld. Maybe they were visionary, maybe they were the start of something that grew into what is classed as big news today, maybe they spawned what we hear on mainstream radio these days - but then again they might just have been too good too soon. Maybe, as Marty McFly says in 'Back To The Future' - "Maybe you're not quite ready for that just yet".

If you like the old stuff, and you too have those boxes of C-90's under the bed or in the attic, then you need to get this. If you like the new stuff, then you need to know where it came from, you need to get this. You need This Poison! 

Maybe...

 

Johnny Mac

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