Razorcuts - A Is For Alphabet EP

matinée 047  /  April 2003
Razorcuts - A Is For Alphabet EP
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Razorcuts - A Is For Alphabet EP

matinée 047  /  April 2003

Following the rapturous reviews of last October's retrospective collection "R is for.. Razorcuts", Matinée Recordings have managed to negotiate the release of a further EP's worth of songs from the Razorcuts archive, combining lead cut "A is for Alphabet" from the aforementioned retrospective with four more beloved and much requested Razorcuts classics. The signature Razorcuts jangle is in full effect throughout this EP, from the formative simplistic beauty of rare early demo tracks "Sometimes I Worry About You" and "For Always", where the shadow of the Television Personalities still looms large, through to the Gene Clark inspired lushness of "Snowbound" from their last long player, 1989's "The World Keeps Turning." Packaged using period promo imagery from the Razorcuts vaults, this makes a fine companion to the recent retrospective album, or alternatively a fantastic introductory sampler in its own right.

  1. A Is For Alphabet
  2. First Day
  3. Snowbound
  4. Sometimes I Worry About You
  5. For Always


You may recall that Matinée Recordings released a rather wonderful Razorcuts retrospective, R is for...Razorcuts, a few months ago. You may also recall that we really liked it. However, what with the world being a tumultuously busy place and all, you may not have remembered to go out and buy yourself a copy. Silly people. If you didn't, or if you balked at the prospect of dropping a fistful of your hard-earned lucre on yet another obscure British band from the eighties, here's your chance to get hooked at budget prices. The A is for Alphabet EP offers a compact overview of the Razorcuts' sound, includes one of their all-time classics, and backs it up with four additional tracks not featured on the full-length retrospective. You can't lose. "A is for Alphabet" is quintessential C86 pop -- a cheery (but not overly accomplished) verse, a simple, jangly melody and a heartwarming boy/girl "la-la" surprise on the chorus. "First Day" offers more of the same, with a more fleshed-out melody, while the latter-day "Snowbound" offsets its lush-but-sullen verse with an emotional about-face -- an earnest third-act chorus full of earnest joy. "Sometimes I Worry About You" and "For Always" are early demos, but they're far from threadbare -- indeed, they're actually a bit more immediate in their appeal, with fewer layers and simpler bass and melody lines. "For Always", with its bargain-basement horns and Gregory Webster's exaggerated cockney-twee vocal, sounds uncannily like Television Personalities -- a regular and highly complimentary comparison that has rarely been more accurate. This is rainy day pop done right! If the exhaustive R is for...Razorcuts was too much of an undertaking for you, your ship has come in. A is for Alphabet is a fine addendum to the band's newly reissued catalog. If you're any kind of record collector, plan on getting seriously hooked.   --Splendid
Matinée follows up their excellent Razorcuts retrospective from 2002 with another (sadly brief) trawl through the archives. The first track, "A Is for Alphabet," is one of the Razorcuts' best songs, instantly hummable and resolutely indie pop; if you had to pick one song to be their epitaph, this may be it. It was already on the R Is for...Razorcuts compilation, so its appearance here is a bit of a mystery, albeit a mystery that makes a pleasant listen. The other four tracks weren't on the collection. "First Day" is an upbeat tune taken from the 1987 Flying Nun single; "Snowbound" is from the band's second album, The World Keeps Turning, and is a lush 12-string guitar-filled ballad with a wonderful minor-chord chorus. The other two tracks are both demos, and were first released on 7" by Bob Stanley's Caff Corporation label in 1990. "Sometimes I Worry About You" was recorded in 1984, "For Always" in 1985. Both songs are very jangly, very emotional, and very, very good. The Razorcuts are very, very good -- good enough that one wishes Matinée had just gone ahead and released everything the Razorcuts ever recorded on however many discs it took to get the job done. In lieu of that, listeners have this CD EP. Soon you should be able to say you have it; indie pop doesn't get much better than this.   --All Music Guide
BUY for the bonus demos: two songs that stayed with me through a long, bitter winter and saddened ’85 spring: naïve, formative and devastatingly beautiful.   --Careless Talk Costs Lives
Miles away in style from his current band, the punk-pop outfit Sportique, Gregory Webster spent part of the 1980s as half of the duo Razorcuts (with Tim Vass), playing exquisite lovelorn pop songs with certain Byrds-ish classic guitar sound. One of the many bands that was beloved for a moment by their fans and contemporaries, yet remains unknown to the general public, the Razorcuts were celebrated last year by Matinee Recordings' release of R Is For…Razorcuts, a 21-track compilation of Razorcuts songs. The A Is For Alphabet EP is a companion to that retrospective; the title track is taken from that CD, but the other 4 songs aren't. More of the same, which in this case is a good thing. Five first-class pop songs about love and joy, loss and regret…the stuff that life is made of.   --Erasing Clouds
Last of a fine Matinée trilogy of singles is a blast from the vaults of the mid 1980s. The label follow up their magnificent R is for Razorcuts retrospective with a five tracker that kicks off with the Cremola-Foam froth of ‘A Is For Alphabet’. Joining it on the EP are cuts variously found previously on singles from Caff and Flying Nun, of which it would be unwise not to pick out ‘First Day’ and ‘For Always’ for particular attention. ‘First Day’ is a lush fragment of baroque jangle, a perfect example of where Buzzcocks met Montage, whilst EP closer ‘For Always’ is a 1985 demo that shows just how important the TV Personalities were as an over-arching influence on those times. This EP is as essential as anything you’ll find this year or any. If the sound of Razorcuts doesn’t move you then you’re already dead.   --Tangents
Once upon a time, back when I was hardly old enough to go school, Alan McGee still had good taste and Sarah records only existed in Matt Haynes daydreams if at all, there was a band called the Razorcuts. They made sweet, jangly post punk pop with an underlying poetic streak, lots of 12 string guitars, tambourines, slightly off-key harmonies and a hammond organ that must have broken the hearts of indiepoppers the world over before they were even called indiepoppers. As time went and while I made my way from primary school to high school, Sarah records worked its way through realesing one hundred singles that changed the way we talk about things, Alan McGee traded taste for a limousine and the heart-broken, teary-eyed fans became known as indiepoppers the Razorcuts split up, acquired a legendary status of sorts and their records became rare and expensive. Now, not only was that a tragedy but it was an understated one at that too - if you don't know much about a band, it's quite unlikely that you'll ever realise how much they're missing from your life. It would have been a shame if you and I never got the chance to listen to the Razorcuts - believe me - but since the release by Matinée records of a wonderful retrospective collection (aptly titled 'R is for Razorcuts) in 2002, we have no excuse. Except, maybe, that 21 songs by a band you don't know from a time with who's sound you're not old enough to be familiar are a bit too much to take in in one dose... But then, last April (2003) Matinée solved that problem too by materializing the brilliant idea that is a Razorcuts cd-single. Compiling a song picked from the aforementioned retrospective with four that got away (two of which are early, hard-to-find, previously released on Caff demos) and packaged using period promo imagery, 'A is for the Alphabet' along with being a collectors item is the perfect introduction to the Razorcuts. Now, you've no excuse left. I suggest you take this cd home and play it - preferably on a pale winter morning or an autumn afternoon or some other sort of empty, quiet time - and you do so however many times it takes for you to realise that the sound of the Razorcuts has indeed been missing from your life. Then, compose a poem titled "How kids like me dreamed before Alan McGee met Oasis" and send it to me on the back of a postcard. Let's make it a competition - I'll bake the winner a big pink cake and buy them "R is for Razorcuts" for their birthday...   --Friends of the Heroes
The first of several featured releases that dropped through the mailbox prior to Xmas from those lovely people at the Santa Barbara based Matinee Records. Following their recent retrospective album (‘R is for Razorcuts’) honouring the much missed Razorcuts, Matinee have managed to persuade the powers that be to relinquish their grip on five more cuts from the vaults, of which two are never before heard demo rarities. Formed in the mid 80’s, the Razorcuts sound was among the crop of wide eyed melodically prickly traffic that acted as a precursor to the whole Sarah label template, jangling guitars, innocent sunny side guitar pop for the more passionately distracted souls of the time. The Razorcuts sound could be traced back directly to the more sprightly canon of the Byrds, effervescently swelling with hope and layered with a wholesome thread of tantalising hooks and driving melodies charged with a veritable feel good factor. Though the band split in 1989, various members going on to form Heavenly, the ensembles two key players, Webster and Vass, did collaborate under the pseudonym Forever People for a one off single for Sarah in ’92. Listening to these five tracks it’s easy to see that this lot were slightly ahead of the game, alighting from the same musical station as the Go Betweens, Razorcuts as evidenced here always had that extra tang, take for instance the glowing ‘First Day’, originally appearing on the flip of their third single, now if anyone tells me that’s not classic Stone Roses a whole year before Manchester’s favourite sons blossomed from Goths to 60’s darlings then I’ll consider myself struck dumb. Lovers of the Clientele and Clock Strikes 13 likewise will not be found wanting with this release especially on the heartbreaking demo cut of ‘For Always’ which takes a steely interior to walk away from without shedding a tear, and that’s even before we get a chance to mention ‘A is for Alphabet’ a spangly variant of the Weather Prophets. Just too cool for its own good.   --Losing Today
More choice cuts from the distant past in another lovingly packaged Razorcuts release from Matinée. This one features the gloriously chiming, not to mention summery, 'A is for Alphabet' - something of a trademark 'cuts song with its almost bell-like Rickenbackers and glorious harmonies. Meanwhile, in other news, we have four other obscurities for your pleasure. 'First Day' is much in the same vein as 'A is for...' but takes a slightly more introverted stance, until it bursts into the chorus with the sort of rush that has the hairs on the back my neck standing up. 'Snowbound' is just about the perfect song. Lush, intertwined guitars, reminiscent of Marr during 'The Queen is Dead' days, this melancholy masterpiece mixes doleful lyrics with a somehow joyous feel, that has me smiling all day. Two demos to finish - the first of which, 'Sometimes I Worry About You' is taken from the band's early days and retains that sort of wired yet dreamy edge found on 'Big Pink Cake', whilst 'For Always' ends this near perfect ep on the note that it should - in a hail of chiming guitars and sweet, sweet melodies. How I wish I'd been able to grow up with this band. But how glad I am that Matinée has seen fit to introduce them to me now. .   --Tasty
Gregory Webster has been making indiepop records for more than 20 years, staying true to (the) form but never really relying on a format, per se. Razorcuts was his mid 80s band and they made a bit of a splash on labels like Creation, Flying Nun and Caff. The A Is For Alphabet EP reprises three Byrdsy tracks from days or yore, with two vintage demos showing a bit of a Television Personalities influence.   --The Big Takeover Magazine
Hot on the heels of their superb ‘R is for Razorcuts’ compilation, Razorcuts offer up five more bounding chestnuts from their formidable catalog. Recalling the splendid sounds of Sarah Records, the songs bounce and echo and shine. ‘First Day’ is as glorious as the first day of spring, the chorus reaching heavenward as guitars dart around like bumblebees. Razorcuts alternately recall The Pastels and Nikki Sudden, only with a greater debt to pop formula. Even a downtempo number like ‘Snowbound’ has optimism and charm. The EP also includes two odd demos from 1984, which showcase the band’s pop sensibilities in slightly lower-fi settings. These five songs are a small glimpse of the glory that is Razorcuts.   -- Shredding Paper
The 'A is for Alphabet' EP features 5 tracks from the classic late 80's indiepop group the Razorcuts,. All have been previously released on either the Creation or Caff or Flying Nun labels, but have now been beautifully remastered for the cool kids of today who were too young for C-86. Gregory Webster is the perfect vocalist for bassist Tim Vass's lyrics. All the songs here have a jangling Byrds style Rickenbacker pop sound which has you both moving your head wihout you knowing it and also, if you are old enough, longing for your lost years of wearing Chelsea boots (If you don’t know what they are ask your Mum) The Razorcuts were excellent, the ultimate 60's pop summer vibe. The last two tracks, 'Sometimes I Worry About You' and 'For Always' are demos, but even they shine like diamonds in the mud.   --Pennyblack Magazine
A welcome return for Greg Webster with a gorgeous five track indiepop EP full of jangly guitars, sweet vocals, and a perfect selection of sha la la handclap choruses. “A Is For Alphabet” is sublime, a two and a half minute C86 esque (or indeed authentic C86) piece of joy, the sort of thing that’s all too rare these days. Think Field Mice, vintage Sarah, or perhaps even BMX Bandits on this truly wonderful tune, with girly backing vocals a-plenty and indier-than-thou graces. “First Day” shares the same mood, a rising crescendo of twee indie and hairslides. Ace. Sounding off the record are a couple of demos from 1984/85, but the highlight for me is “Snowbound”, a deeply melancholic track that takes in the best moments of Blueboy, Trembling Blue Stars, and well, Razorcuts(!). It’s a heartbreaker of a tune, a quietly striking gem. Great stuff.   --Strange Fruit