Artifact: The Dawn of Creation Records 83-85
Alan McGee's Creation Records was one of the most influential and consistently interesting labels of the '80s and '90s, cranking out classic songs and albums while giving the world some of the biggest bands of the era (the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Oasis). Cherry Red's 2015 box set Artifact: The Dawn of Creation Records 83-85 focuses on the very beginnings of Creation's run, compiling singles, live tracks, demos, and Peel Sessions and putting them in a handsome package. The first two discs gather up (almost) all the singles released between 1983 and 1985, beginning with the Legend!'s raucous "'73 in '83." Along the way there are classic tracks by McGee's own Biff Bang Pow! ("There Must Be a Better Life"), the Loft ("Why Does the Rain"), the Jasmine Minks ("Think"), and Meat Whiplash ("Don't Slip Up"). The first JAMC and Primal Scream singles are here too, along with two brilliant singles by the Pastels and obscure releases by the Moodists and the X-Men. The sheer amount of quality indie pop on display is staggering. McGee and his crew were great talent-spotters and the label's aesthetic was spot-on, capturing the best aspects of '60s pop and '70s punk while sounding smack up to date. The third disc is a grab bag of rarities, obscurities, and live tracks highlighted by a wonderfully jangly single by McGee's pre-Creation band the Laughing Apple; three live songs by a band that was very inspirational to McGee, the Television Personalities; and excerpts from the Alive in the Living Room album, which captured Creation bands (and others) playing at the club McGee founded. The fourth disc is one that will have collectors frothing at the mouth, composed as it is of all previously unreleased demos by a handful of bands, including lots of Jasmine Minks tracks, sounding scruffy and alive with youthful vigor. The Biff Bang Pow!, Legend! and X-Men tracks are all fun, while the Moodists' takes on "Train from Kansas City" and "Guess I'm Dumb" show that they knew their way around a cover version, but the crown jewels are the three tracks that Meat Whiplash recorded for their never released second single. The fifth disc is another one for the hardcore Creation fans. It's made up of Peel Sessions, with a handful of live Loft tracks added as a bonus. The Loft are the stars here, sounding like a great lost band as they run through their perfect jangle pop repertoire with sophisticated flair. The Meat Whiplash session is noisy thrills and the Bodines deliver frantically energetic versions of their classic tunes "Theresa" and "William Shatner." Overall, the box set is nearly perfect. The music itself is consistently brilliant, the rarities are impressive, the curation very well considered, and the bright sound fairly jumps out of the speakers. Fans of the label, and indie pop in general, will be pleased that so much care was given to Creation's thrilling early days and should waste no time adding Artifact to their collections.