HEAVENLY RECORDINGS – Labels We Love

Posted: April 3, 2015 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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The first record on Heavenly was released in the spring of 1990, a 12” by Sly & Lovechild. Acid house had hit London hard, offering a hedonistic escape route from what looked to be a second decade of Thatcherism. The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays had performed together on Top Of The Pops and, for a short while, it felt like those bands could take on the world and, as a fan, you could revel in the reflected glory. Primal Scream had changed their prescription and let their hair down while My Bloody Valentine were busy spending a lot of Creation’s money in the studio. Grunge and Britpop were still just twinkles in eyes, still the stuff of madmen’s dreams. And, thankfully, Spandau Ballet had just split up.

In the ensuing 18 years, a whole load of people have walked through the doors of Heavenly Recordings. Without exception, they’ve all been welcomed back time and again by the label’s genial hosts. In fact, it’s hard to get rid of some of them come three in the morning, when the cab is waiting outside with the meter running.

When these gigs were mooted a while back, it came down to me to piece together a Heavenly History, a selective-memory version of events with all the boring bits taken out. I’ve worked at Heavenly for 14 years now in various capacities – from gig promoter to press officer; A&R man to office Bez. If there are any factual inaccuracies in here, I can only apologise and put it down to loss of brain cells. There were loads of people who we didn’t manage to speak to (due either to us running out of time or them being too damn lazy to get back to us), meaning you’re missing out on stories about the likes of Fabulous, Northern Uproar, The Hybirds, The Little Ones, Jon Carter, Dot Allison, Dr Robert, Schizoid Man, Pete Greenwood, Beggars, The Loose Salute, 22-20s, Jaymay, Nada Surf and, of course, Dog.

Heavenly was already a state of mind. Seemed like the right time to make it something really special. We were all deeply immersed in music that we loved. None of us could believe our fucking luck, really. (Jeff Barrett)

It was thirty years ago today – or thereabouts – that Heavenly came to be. In celebration of this big ol’ birthday comes Believe in Magic – a chronicle not only of Foxbase Alpha, Working Men’s Club and 28 of the releases in between that got the label to where it is today, but also of the haircuts, nights down the pub, pencil-eraser-carvings, cheese toasties, acid houses, Sunday Socials and lost Weekenders – Yorkshire and otherwise – that are as much a part of its story.

As Jeff Barrett puts it at the beginning of the book, if there’s a continuous theme that runs through all of this, I think it’s that everything comes down to conversations with people about music. It might seem like it all starts with someone on one side of the counter who is selling you something, or someone writing excitedly in a magazine telling you about a band you need to hear, but I don’t think I’ve ever really seen things as one-way transactions. It’s more an ongoing dialogue, one that never really stops and helps to build up this growing soundtrack to our lives, something that’s passed from one person to another. That’s really the ever-present thread. That’s why we still believe in magic.

Though we are three decades distant from The World According to Sly and Lovechild, lineup changes, ups, downs, and a good few office clean ups under the label’s belt, the Heavenly firm continue not to believe their fucking luck; at still being here, keepin’ on keepin’ on doing what they love, and at being able to pass all of this – then, now, and next week

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