18 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Years after Shop Assistants disbanded, acts such as Slumber Party, the Aislers Set and the Concretes would borrow quite a bit from their melodic and fuzzy sound, but even in their Scottish homeland this delightful four-piece seems to have fallen into indie-pop obscurity. Combining their self-titled 1986 debut album with tracks from earlier seven-inches, this portrait of their first year and a half in existence is almost everything you need by the beguiling one-time NME cover stars (the absence of the awesome lullaby moment "It's Up To You" is puzzling, but not a big deal). This is the band for you if you like Phil Spector's girl- group productions from the ‘60s but wish they had a lot more distortion in the mix, or if you'd prefer to hear Nico's songs on the first Velvet Underground album backed by the Jesus and Mary Chain instead.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Years after Shop Assistants disbanded, acts such as Slumber Party, the Aislers Set and the Concretes would borrow quite a bit from their melodic and fuzzy sound, but even in their Scottish homeland this delightful four-piece seems to have fallen into indie-pop obscurity. Combining their self-titled 1986 debut album with tracks from earlier seven-inches, this portrait of their first year and a half in existence is almost everything you need by the beguiling one-time NME cover stars (the absence of the awesome lullaby moment "It's Up To You" is puzzling, but not a big deal). This is the band for you if you like Phil Spector's girl- group productions from the ‘60s but wish they had a lot more distortion in the mix, or if you'd prefer to hear Nico's songs on the first Velvet Underground album backed by the Jesus and Mary Chain instead.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5

7 Ratings

itunes somewhat redeems itself...

kingjarvis,

Its nice to see that itunes doesn't pander soleley to the dreadful artists that grace their home page! This anthology has most everything the Assistants recorded in their brief career. Buzzing guitars, pre-riot grrl vocals and too much attitude for their Doc Martens, they had it all. God, do I miss bands like this when I hear some of the music of today...I must be getting old. Download this young hipster! You'll thank this cranky old college music geek.

This takes me back!

Spooky Ruby,

I never thought I'd find this album digitally. It's nice to replace my old vinyl with mp3s. Light, airy post-new wave alt pop with a slightly rough edge but angelic vocals. I would call this music edgy but cute; none of the bump and grind that a lot of modern artists feel is necessary to gain attention, just earnest pop at it's beat. This album makes me happy!

About Shop Assistants

Formed in Edinburgh, Scotland, during 1984, this pop band used guitar inflections enthusiastically borrowed from the Buzzcocks. They were originally titled Buba And The Shop Assistants and released a solitary single, ‘Something To Do’, under that name. With only 500 pressings on the obscure Villa 21 independent, it has gained a reputation among record collectors for its monetary value as well as the spirited songwriting. Mainman David Keegan (guitar) was joined by Alex Taylor (vocals), Sarah Kneale (bass) and twin drummers Ann Donald (replaced in 1986 by Joan Bride) and Laura McPhail. ‘All Day Long’, on the Subway Organisation label, was allegedly Morrissey’s favourite single of 1985, but by this time they had garnered adequate plaudits from their exposure in fanzines and magazines. The following year’s release on the 53rd & 3rd label (jointly set up by Keegan with Stephen of the Pastels), ‘Safety Net’, reached number 1 on the UK independent chart.

Signing to the major Chrysalis Records label saw the release of the Shop Assistants’ debut album, which made a brief appearance in the Top 100 and then disappeared - as did the band. When Taylor left in 1987 to form Motorcycle Boy the critical acclaim dried up. Keegan also left, taking up a post as a skiing instructor, while Kneale and McPhail went back to college. They re-formed in 1990, with McPhail switching to bass and Margarita taking her place on drums. One of the singles produced, ‘The Big E’, was, typically, a tribute to the guitar chord rather than the fashionable drug of the period. By this time they had signed to Andrew Tulley’s Avalanche label, although their status in the independent scene has been somewhat eroded by the passing years. Keegan would eventually make a permanent commitment to the Pastels.

  • ORIGIN
    Edinburgh, Scotland

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