was started in 1990 by Nigel Cross, founding editor of Bucketfull of Brains
magazine, for many of the usual reasons that people start their own record labels.
Says Nigel: ‘In the summer of 1985, disillusioned after five years spent in the service of the pop music business machine, I withdrew and started to ask myself whether I even still liked listening to music. Like many have done to re-charge their batteries and re-ignite their enthusiasm, I went back to year dot and began to dig out sounds from the late 60s that had first whet my appetite. In correspondence with my good friend Colin Hill, we were soon exchanging letters and cassette compilations – unlike many of our contemporaries, we had both started out listening to a lot of the music from the British underground, in the afterglow of 1967 and the flower-power era.
We had grown up on John Peel
’s Top Gear and Night Ride programmes; we read the alternative press – IT, OZ, Gandalf’s Garden, later Frendz and local equivalents – for me Manchester’s awesome Grass Eye, for Colin North Devon Snail – we loved the network of little underground clubs that had sprung up in the UK in the late 60s –Birmingham’s Mothers, Aylesbury’s Friars, Plymouth’s Van Dike, and Preston’s Amethyst. In London we looked to the UFO and Middle Earth, and of course the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm was our spiritual home. I’d also recall with fondness what a cool place Ladbroke Grove had been back then, a kind of Greenwich Village or Haight Ashbury – ah the freak enclaves of west London!
We were children of the free concerts, the big dope festivals and arts labs. In our universe Radio Geronimo
still ruled the roost! We looked back to an age when you bought records almost as much for their sleeves as you did for their contents. Sadly freak designer Barney Bubbles was not long in his grave back then, but we saluted him and the likes of Martin Sharp, Nigel Waymouth and Hapshash and the Coloured Coat.
We were swimming against the fashionable tides of the late 80s and it felt good! We dug deep into the exotic and the obscure and regaled each other with stories from the halcyon daze of yore. Bridget St John, Hard Meat, the Bonzos, Mick Softley, Little Free Rock et al were the tops of our charts. We quickly established a common love of the community bands like the Pink Fairies, Hawkwind, Mighty Baby, Magic Muscle and the Edgar Broughton Band. Equally we loved the blues boom bands especially Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and the burgeoning folk rock movement spearheaded by Fairport Convention. What bound us even more together was a shared love of ZigZag magazine especially the very early issues – arguably the most single overriding influence of my teenage life.
In the 80s I had become good friends with Larry Wallis, singer, song writer, guitarist and producer and member of the likes of the Entire Sioux Nation, the Pink Fairies, and the Deviants not to forget house producer at Stiff Records, composer of ‘Police Car’ and one of the stars of that now legendary first Stiff tour in autumn 1977.