The Visitors - Miss

matcd003  /  May 2000
The Visitors - Miss
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The Visitors - Miss

matcd003  /  May 2000

The Visitors split up sometime in late 1988, after three or four years of Devonian pop isolation. In that time they achieved one flexidisc, one play on John Peel, a handful of enthusiasts and a clutch of fine pop songs. They had become heartily sick of being called the cream of Devon. The sought-after flexi, which featured the Visitors' Goldmining, was issued on the Sha-La-La imprint, and has maintained a steady band of admirers since its release in 1988. That aside, all anyone ever heard of the Visitors was on tape, passed from hand to hand and degrading with every copy made. Matinée Recordings has crossed the Atlantic to dig out the original tapes for Goldmining and ten other pop gems, all dating from 86-88. These songs, as much as many of The Visitors' contemporaries', perfectly capture something about being a teenager, and are lost treats from a time when a particular kind of pure guitar pop still roamed the streets of the small-towns and suburbs of the UK. These days, you're more likely to find a former Visitor drinking in London, Tokyo, Bangkok, Nepal or Brisbane than you are to find one nosing around the lanes of East Devon. But you can still hear them cutting their teeth to the Sound of Sidmouth.

  1. Goldmining
  2. Bliss
  3. Flat On My Back
  4. Never Has, Never Will
  5. Alice Aisgill
  6. Waking Up To Nothing
  7. Seeing Stars
  8. Fridays And Saturdays
  9. Housewife's Choice
  10. Age Old
  11. I Remember


The Visitors Miss collection on the fine Matinée label is the sort of ignored and forgotten classic made by people who in a finer world and in finer times should have been Pop Stars. Because the Visitors were always too truculent and altogether coming from strange angles and holding resolutely anti-rock stances that would set them apart from the crowds in any era. That they recorded songs that spoke, and continue to speak of the wonders and horrors of existence is testament to the fact that it takes the disaffected outsiders to see the world for what it is and to record it for posterity. It seems a shame to me that some people will see this record as a historical document (The Visitors recorded most of the songs on this collection between 1986 and 1988, and 'Goldmining' achieved a kind of fame by being on the last ever Sha-La-La flexi) because such a viewpoint belittles the content, devalues the impact that the songs can have regardless of time and context. One of the Visitors figures was responsible for suggesting once that all great Pop was not about being 16 per se, but was instead about seeing the world from the perspective of such an age. I think it's a flawed argument but that the flaw is what makes it so perfect, and besides which the flaw is pretty much insignificant, and stands up to much interrogation. Pop is about discussing the detail in life (and at 16 you obsess over the details like crazy; the little things are so Important after all - and even though, as they sing in 'Goldmining' 'small details don't matter', it's only the small details that threaten to throw your world on its head that don't matter) and about making terrific throwaway assumptions about things, just knowing that although you know nothing you actually also know Everything. It's a strange perspective of contradiction and fluctuations that require no intellectual reasoning; it just IS because, well, it just IS. It's a perspective of unapologetic stances, of knowing what side of the fence you stand, with the knowledge that tomorrow the fence might not even be there anymore, and who cares anyway because it's always Today that counts. Right? Right. So The Visitors understood this idea completely, although of course it would have been a subconscious knowledge, a natural awareness; because as soon as the feeling is forced you tread the paths of the ironists and fakers. And The Visitors were nothing if not passionate and true. They also wrote fantastically about the details of life: the songs on Miss are full of the most amazingly accurately observed lines about the culture of adolescence: "The wedding suits and the bridal gowns are for want of something better to do" ('Goldmining') "Charge headlong into the nearest kiss that you'll remember by her mum's house and some dull times that you'll re-name bliss." ('Bliss') "I couldn't wait to dream about you so I overdosed on sleeping pills.", "trying not to ever see the morning of a Sunday" ('Flat On My Back') "Got someone to see, someone to meet. Feet tripping over themselves and shivering in the cold.", "telling cautious jokes and getting cold feet, forgetting the time and being late home." ('Waking Up To Nothing') And I'm not even scratching the surface. The Visitors wrapped their lyrical observations in a sound that jabbed and grabbed; abrasive but soothing all at once; a difficult balance to achieve and one that they found as regularly as their peers McCarthy and the Bodines. And whilst we're thinking briefly about such things, what about a great Bodines reissue to remind the world of the terrific Pop hooks they once dangled in front of our delighted mouths? But as I've said, it's important to live in the Now and not the Past, and as a result I have to tell you that Miss is not a record of the past but is a record of Now because it sounds as fresh and as urgent a Pop record as I've heard. Ever. Full stop. End of story.   --Tangents
Our very own lovely CF contributor and self proclaimed "fat ignorant drunk" (it's a lie!) Tim Hopkins has unearthed this jangling bit of late-80's pop history. I had the very good fortune of hearing Mr. Hopkins sing the opener "Goldmining" gorgeously at a fabulous margarita party in southeast London earlier this year. Even if he weren't a member of the inner clique of my circle, I would say this record will make you pogo in the kitchen - especially if you fancy bands like Aztec Camera.   --Chickfactor
Perfect for the Bowlie generation, these star-kissed melodies are tinged with a sweet regret and still sound fresh 12 years after this album was recorded (but never released). 4 1/2 stars out of 5   --Melody Maker
Miss, that is as opposed to Hit. In the Jukebox Jury that is fate and the geographical lottery that placed Sidmouth quite so far away from London, The Visitors missed out. Their obvious love of The Jam, their affinity with The Smiths and nods to liner-note heroes Aztec Camera, The June Brides and McCarthy all shine through this retrospective compilation fully 15 years after most of the tracks were recorded.   --Robots and Electronic Brains
The Visitors had a flexi out on Sha-la-la, the flexi label that Matt (Sarah/Shinkansen) ran before Sarah, but this was all they ever released. Some of the band formed Hope in the early 90s, releasing a flexi on Bewildered and a 7" on A Turntable Friend before splitting up. Matinée have now released Miss by The Visitors, a CD which brings together the flexi track Goldmining and 10 unreleased Visitors tracks. The music is, as you may expect, a very mid 80s kind of janglepop - 80s indiepop fans will no doubt find something for them on here. My particular faves at the moment are Alice Aisgill, Housewife's Choice and Age Old. The sleeve notes of this CD are worth a look; the writer points out that in the 90s, guitar music tended to be rock and mainstream pop, as opposed to "independent or not-so-popular pop" - this is very true. Although the sort of pop played by The Visitors could still be heard in the early part of the decade, this kind of music was only made by a very small amount of people during most of the 90s. Looks as though it's making a comeback in the new millennium though, and this is very good to see.   --Aquamarine
Another late 80's British band that Jimmy Tassos has unearthed and yet again, I'd never heard of them before 'til this CD. Between Jimmy and "Johnny Carbs" Carbonaro I'm sure these guys could fill a closet full of records by obscure pop bands I've never heard before. Anyway, aside from the very Verlaines-like opening "Goldmining" (which kinds rocks), the rest of the record is total late 80s British jangle pop. Reminded me of the Go-Betweens in spots (especially the guitar playing) and here's 11 more songs presented to you on a proverbial silver platter.   --Dagger
Brief cd compiling all the recordings of a band with an even briefer career. In 1987, we saw the Visitors' "Goldmining" released on a split flexi on the Sha La La label, and then that was it. Over ten years later, James Matinée flew over to England, dug up the master tapes, and here you go! So here we have eleven songs, hidden for years, straight out of the c86 era, where boy-indiepop bands like the Prayers, Windmills, and Biff Bang Pow! were king (or at least deserved to be). And these guys are totally on par with those bands, too.   --IndiePages
The voices on these songs belong to young men who have this grand idea that the things they imagine, the things they believe in and the things they sing about are universal, far-reaching and generation defining. There is a rooted confidence among all of the sentiments here. Ideas are not thouroughly fleshed out, granted, and it does not stray all that far away from the c-86 blueprint of boy meets girl, girl doesn't like boy's record collection and things go hopelessly awry. It reminds me a bit of Rodney Allen, who of course reminds everyone of Billy Bragg, yet there is not all that much socialism on display here although they do sound like a band whose members could have become militant and could have gone on to form the politically pungent yet terribly lovely Fragile. The Wedding Present was their favourite band growing up, the Smiths were their second favourite band, they loved the Brilliant Corners and their everlasting desire was to be featured on Subway Records Organization (all conjecture on my part). Oh but sadly none of that ever happened. They are all now likely or probably, maybe, raising sheep in New Zealand with the Thompson Twins. Somehow the Matinée guy unearthed these super excellent recordings and gave them their societal heart enlivening release.   --Twee Kitten
En el año 87 se editaba en España "Beauty. A Pink Label Compilation", un recorrido emotivo por The Pink Label, un sello que aglutinó a nombres notables de la independencia británica de aquellos años: That Petrol Emotion, McCarthy, The Wolfhounds, The June Brides, Jamie Wednesday y otros más desconocidos aún. Era la muestra palpable de la existencia de un hervidero de bandas con cosas que decir desde la honestidad. Pop sencillo y comprometido, como el que practican entre 1984 y 1988 THE VISITORS. Con un flexi-disc para Sha-La-La apenas dejaron huella, la misma que dejará su nombre en la arena de playa en la foto interior de este Cd, pero los perdedores también tienen un hueco en la historia y Matinée Recordings efectúa el justo rescate. "Miss" recoge el legado entre los a_os 86/88 de esta banda de la ciudad de Devon, relativamente cercana a Londres. Como ocurr¡a con muchas bandas inglesas de aquellos a_os, el influjo de The Smiths era dif¡cilmente evitable ("Fridays and saturdays"), pero muchas de ellas se apa_aron para catapultar su personalidad propia desde cimientos como 'sos. En la l¡nea de otros compa_eros de generaci¢n con m s (McCarthy, luego Stereolab; The Wolfhounds, luego Moonshake) o menos fortuna (a reivindicar: The June Brides), THE VISITORS lograron un peque_o repertorio de canciones entusiastas, el m s fino ejemplo de la sinceridad, lo opuesto al enga_oso presente brit nico que nos ensalza a menudeces como Stereophonics o Coldplay como el futuro cuando s¢lo son el pasado bien enterrado. En "Miss" hay m s vida. Son cuatro acordes producidos con pocos medios y una voz discreta, pero el frescor de estas canciones, la vitalidad que transmiten y el lirismo adolescente que aon desprende (apunta "Never has, never will", "Goldmining", "Housewife's choice")j am s lo marchitar el tiempo. Miradas al pasado que convencen, el testigo de una actitud que ser¡a necesario rescatar.
O Visitors foi formado em 86 numa pequena cidade no interior da Inglaterra e durou três anos. Nesse meio tempo a banda chegou a fazer uma Peel Session e a lançar um flexi com uma única canção chamada "Goldmining" na micro gravadora Sha-la-la (pré-Sarah Records). E isso foi tudo. Mas eles tinham gravado mais dez canções que nunca chegaram a serem lançadas e que circulavam de mão em mão em cassetes que se deterioravam com cada cópia feita (alguém aí lembrou de "Tigermilk"?). A gravadora americana Matinée recuperou as fitas originais dessas canções e as botou num CD intitulado "Miss", que foi lançado em maio de 2000. O álbum abre com a já citada "Goldmining", um jangle pop que lembra uma versão mais tosca do Razorcuts. A urgência de "Alice Aisgill" é outro grande destaque, com ótima linha de baixo, guitarras lo-fi e ritmo upbeat. A impressão que esse álbum passa é de ingenuidade. Imagine um bando de amigos que se reúnem para tocar e se divertirem, sem pretensão alguma. É exatamente isso. E dá pra perceber que eles gostavam bastante de Brilliant Corners, Smiths, Josef K, Billy Bragg e Orange Juice, além de todo o cast da Subway Records. O som é uma mistura de tudo isso aí. E pela época que foi gravado (vários períodos entre 86 e 88), era bem capaz que eles conseguissem um certo sucesso, mas eles preferiram deixar como hobbie e quando tudo enjoou, quando nada era mais novidade, quando a urgência já tinha ido embora, eles desistiram. Fica esse álbum, lançado mais de dez anos depois, como registro. E ele vem com notas do integrante original David Griffiths e formato digipack com capa dupla. Disquinhos assim que, para fãs do estilo como eu, provoca ataques de alegria e paixão imediata. Tá na minha prateleira de "favoritos". Para fãs de: Razorcuts, Brilliant Corners, Josef K, Orange Juice, Chesterf!elds.   --Esquizofrenia