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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 28 - Small Wonder

Some people seem to be fond of saying that Punk changed nothing (I've read a few people recently who have said that) and whilst I kind of understand a bit what they are saying I think you have to qualify exactly what you mean when you say it. As an example I personally think that Punk changed quite a few things especially when it came to the issue of putting out records. (There's lots of links on here so click on them to listen to the music. I could have put loads more in but time was not on my side having already spent three hours researching and writing!)

Buzzcocks have been attributed as the first of the UK Punk bands to put out a record on their own, Spiral Scratch EP (released 29th January 1977) on their own New Hormones label. Many bands followed up and down the country. Of course there were other bands who signed deals with major labels but for those who didn't it was the DIY way or there was another way.

Back in 1977 a record shop in Walthamstow, East London called Small Wonder Records created their own label and began releasing singles by unknown bands who were part of the Punk scene and also the Post-Punk Scene. More about them in a moment.

Small Wonder Records were not the only shop to do this because there was Beggars Banquet in South West London started by Martin Mills, their first two singles in 1977 were by The Lurkers (Shadow and Freak Show). Bands that followed as the label grew were The Doll, Tubeway Army, The Heartbreakers, The Merton Parkas, The Carpettes, Gary Numan, Colin Newman (of Wire), Bauhaus, The Gun Club, The Associates, The Icicle Works, The Cult, Ramones, The Fall, The Adult Net, The Go-Betweens and so many more. Probably Beggars Banquet was one of the great success stories as it went on to become a bit of a major label and having off-shoot labels like 4AD. But it all started with the release of a Punk Single! It is now a major player worldwide.

Then there was Remember The Oldies who had Raw Records in Cambridge started by Lee Wood, they kicked off with The Users 'Sick of You' and their biggest seller was The Killjoys 'Johnny Won't Get To Heaven' (that featured the future founder of Dexy's Midnight Runners Kevin Rowland). Not everything they released was brilliant but there were some interesting Singles by the likes of The Soft Boys, The Unwanted, Lockjaw, The Gorillas, The Now and even some Rockabilly with the likes of Matchbox, Danny and the Wildcats and The Riot Rockers.

Zoom in Edinburgh (started by Bruce Findlay who was an owner of a music store). In September 1977 they released The Valves debut Robot Love/For Adolfs Only. That was followed by PVC2 (which was the remaining members of pop band Slik with Midge Ure on vocals and Put You in The Picture was their only single) who morphed into Zones after Midge Ure left to join the Rich Kids. They also had The Questions and Simple Minds (formerly Johnny and the Self Abusers). The first couple of singles and album were released on the label. By this time Zoom got swept up by Arista Records and were no longer an Independent label and not too long afterwards it folded.

Rough Trade in Ladbroke Grove, London started by Geoff Travis. Is probably one of the most famous Indie labels. Their early roster of single releases is quite amazing to see. Their first single was in December 1977 and it was French Punks Metal Urbain's debut 'Paris Maquis', followed by the likes of Cabaret Voltaire's debut 'Extended Play', Stiff Little Fingers' 'Alternative Ulster' (Rough Trade's first album release was Inflamable Material by the Northern Irish punks), Spizzoil, The Monochrome Set, Subway Sect, Kleenex, Swell Maps, Protex, The Raincoats, The Last Words, The Pack (featuring Kirk Brandon), Delta 5, The Pop Group, Television Personalities, Scritti Politti, and oh so many more.
Now to Small Wonder Records. They maybe didn't have as many groups who would have some success but they did have a few surprise who would go on to greater things. Their first single release in September 1977 was 'Mucky Pup' by Puncture which had the classic B-Side 'You Can't Rock and Roll (In A Council Flat)'. The Zeros 'Hungry' followed in October 1977. The Carpettes debut EP would be Small 3 (they would go on to get a major deal and also sign with Beggars Banquet).

The fourth release is one of my favourites, Patrik Fitzgerald and 'Safety Pin Stuck in My Heart EP'.

Other releases included GLC by Menace (Small 5), 19 and Mad - Leyton Buzzards (Small 7) who would go on to become pop band Modern Romance! The Eleventh single release (August 1978) was a debut from a band who still to this day are making great music, The Cure with Killing An Arab. 'New Way' by The Wall (Small 13), 'Flares 'N' Slippers' - Cockney Rejects debut (Small 19), Violence Grows - Fatal Microbes (Small 20), Destitution - Camera Obscura (Small 28) also there were releases from Poison Girls, Crass (the debut 18 track EP Feeding the Five Thousand) and even Bauhaus debut Bela Lugosi's Dead.

 Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart EP
Small Wonder (Small4)
Produced by Pete Stennett
Released 27th January 1978

Side A
02. Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart

Side B

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!
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