1.02.2006

Sara Goes Pop



Sara Goes Pop s/t 2x7" (It's War Boys, 1982)

Way back in July, my friend & colleague Jay Hinman, over at the scandal sheet Agony Shorthand, came up with the ridiculous notion that the great British DIY band The Homosexuals are overrated. Yeah sure, everyone from the cretinous, ass-munching, resume-padding hacks at Pitchfork to my wise comrads at Terminal Boredom have spewed enough goo over the Homos to fill the vaults of a dozen sperm banks and many crab-like hipster trust fund trash were, for a time, name dropping these Limey sub-legends while trying to pick up some attempted suicide girl at their favorite gentrified watering hole; but as I screamed elsewhere many a times, a band's fans do not make the band. Hype should just be looked at as hype and nothing more.

Don't get me wrong, there is a difference between hype and reviews or recommendations. Unless I am trying to sell you something - be it a record, ad space in my zine, a banner on my website, or a nude examination each other's tattoos - chances are I am just telling you what I think (of course, this gets a little confused when you put out records like I do. Having to sell records I've invested money in means I must write about them in glowing terms. But I wouldn't put money towards a record I didn't feel good about pushing on people. For one, that is just not my way. And, second, I break-even off on this record label thing. It is a hobby, not a livelihood.) This is one reason why zines are more credible than glossies or not-so-glossies like Skyscrapper, which are crammed with ads. It is also why e-zines like Terminal Boredom or Blastitude and blogs like Agony Shorthand and the ones you see to your right are way more reliable than the reviled Pitchfork and all those blogs you see with ads streaming down their margins or who are pimping whatever new "indie" release they get promo'd. This is the difference between fandom and business.

So while I respect Mister Hinman's opinions and think that his blog has no peer, I have to say that on the subject of The Homosexuals he is wrong. Don't worry: I am not gonna refight the Homo battle. You can go to Agony Shorthand, look at the comments that Jay's H-mo screed aroused and see that I and others have already carved him another orifice to empty (which brings me to this question: Do you ever think that Jay has a list on bombs he is planning to drop, table clearing pronouncements that make all us record geeks jitter uncontrollably as we frantically pound our defense of Waylon Jennings, The Homosexuals, calypso music or whatever artist or genre Herr Hinman sweeps away in one smart ass rant, giggling to himself as he mumbles, "This will keep them busy while I cream over yet another willowy yet ghostly attractive hippie alterna-folk dame"? Yeah, I too think it is a smoke screen designed to keep us from noticing that the old man is getting soft in his golden years and is probably serious contemplating throwing Ol Hillary a vote in the next Dem presidential primary, her kinda having a crypt-like scowl that these folk ladies are aging into, one that seems to be the rule for our elder stateswomen [I mean, just look at that Skeletoresque mug of Condi Rice - the cosmetic effect power has on people is bipartisan]).

One of the things that the few detractors of The Homosexuals never mention is that The Homosexuals were not just The Homosexuals. The folks behind that band also had a zillion side projects and one-offs, all finding a home on vinyl or cassette released by the It's War Baby label. Some names: L. Voag, Vic Serf & The Villains, George Harassment, Milk from Cheltenham, The Ululators [what a great name], and Sara Goes Pop, the subject of this post.

Sara Goes Pop was fronted by Sara, who plays on many Homosexuals releases, and is backed by Jim (aka L Voag, Amos, etc.) and others in the Homos circle. Because Sara Goes Pop is essentially a Homosexuals release, I don't feel compelled to run down their story. Others have done it else where and if you really feel a need for an exhaustive history check out the Astral Glamour 3CD.

After a cassette release, Sara Goes Pop came out with this double 7", some of it (I think) culled from the cassette. Pressed on two colors of vinyl and in a hand screened sleeve, I am pretty sure there are only 500 of these pups floating around, though a total Homo fanatic (Miller are you out there?) might be able to tell otherwise. While this thing looks great, it sounds even better. Like The Homosexuals, Sara... has a disjointed DIY punk edge to it, one that sounds like there are very smart people behind very dumb instruments. Where it differs from The Homos is Sara dips into the quasi-funky/semi-dubby, female fronted post punk that bands like The Slits, Delta 5, and Kleenex/Lilliput pioneered. Sara does it just as well as those three giants and with the rawness many of them abandoned once they got enough money to record in pro studios with "legitimate" producers. It is the rawness and the humor that set this a bit apart from their contemporaries. It is almost as if Sara was thinking, "Fuck these people, I'll show them how to do this."

While all eight songs on this record are grand, I am giving you my five faves. You might even have gotten a couple less if the songs didn't run right into each other, so don't complain. I like all of these fine, though Sexy Terrorist has got to be one of my favorites from the era. Maybe these songs will lead Old Man Hinman to Homosexuality and hurry up a reissue of the non-Homo Homosexuals stuff.


Comments:
thats the problem with the 3cd set - it compiled a lot of stuff that wasn't half as good as the side projects. this is a great single, indeed.
 
Ironically the first time I listened to the Homosexuals, via a comp an overseas pal made, the Sara Goes Pop stuff stood out the most & was my instant fave Homos stuff -- the 2-3 knockout Homosexuals tracks notwithstanding. But then, maybe I just like girls. I truly think that triple CD is nearly useless unless you hand-select the ten best tracks for your own CD-R; then you've got something. And Scott, the notion of me lying in wait with an "overrated" pronouncement in hopes of generating some heated feedback is not too far off the mark, but it's not so I can "cream over yet another willowy yet ghostly attractive hippie alterna-folk dame". It's so someone -- ANYONE -- will pay me some attention. I have needs too, you know! Have you ever thought about that??
 
another great choice-cheers!
 
Like Jay, on my first listening of the Homosexuals', these songs stood out. I didn't know they were a side-project of the Homos. Great stuff...but the triple CD is too much for casual listeners such as myself.
 
The Homosexuals 3CD thing was too much even for a huge Homos fan like myself. All the Homosexuals stuff (aside from the Homosexuals LP which is good but has somewhat crappy sound) that actually bears their name is 100% brilliant. The first single: total genius, Homosexuals EP: awesome, Nursery Chimes single: fantastic. Those should've been compiled in order, the George Harassment (solo Anton except Homos on 1 or 2 tracks) should have gotten it's own disc - it was NEVER meant to be split up! Splitting it up castrated it's brilliance. The record has no track marks & all runs together & works WAY better as one whole thing. I figure Messthetics thought maybe people wouldn't have patience for it as a whole? Who knows. The Astral Glamour box is important simply because of how great the booklet is & because it contains songs from the tape (forget the name) that came out when they broke up. That's definitley the biggest Homos rarity & there are some total gems on that - 'Jesus' in particular. Further, I think that Jim/L Voag/Amos etc is somewhat overrated though he did do some great shit. Basically I think he gets way too much credit for their sound. He's only really on 2 things (first single & Homos EP - prety sure he's gone by Ici La bas EP which is good but flawed) and his contributions are brillant on those records - but he quit afterwards (somewhat unamicabally) & started It's War Boys (not Baby, cruddo) - the label name a joke on the breakup. Most everything on It's War Boys is Jim & other non-Homos so I don't think it's fair that the Homos legacy is influenced by it. It's War Boys was insanely prolific & it sounds like it should've been called It's Fun Boys because they're clearly having a blast. Some of those tapes are insane. Of the It's War Boys stuff, Sara Goes Pop 2x7" is my favorite. It somehow sounds super focused yet written in a day. I agree - it sounds like they're saying "this is how it's done you idiots!". The bass playing on it (Jim) is amazing. Woodhouse shit when I played it for him. I'm just glad I bought the Homos EP blind - not knowing who they were or what their deal was - so I could have a private moment with my blown mind before the collector hype took over. Overrated? Eh, everything's overrated. Unless it's underrated. In which case it'll be overrated soon enough.

miller
 
This is awesome! Thank you muchly.
 
Quote of the year (and it is only day three): "Overrated? Eh, everything's overrated. Unless it's underrated. In which case it'll be overrated soon enough." -S Miller
 
"Jim/L Voag/Amos etc is somewhat overrated?"

You know not what you talk about young man.

Not only did the golden haired one write their best songs and the band went to shit after he left (in my opinion), but he made the defining (ask that dude from Nurse With Wound) album of the art punk post whatever plastic bag explosion with "The Way Out" in 1979 (in Homosexuals studio downtime), plus 99 per cent of the meaty mealy many many releases on It's War Boys are master wrecks of the lo fix PRESS RECORDS NOW! ethic

I think the testament is that he is still around today making great music with Die Trip Computer Die and doing the spy thriller carry on radio play adventures of Harmon e. Phraisyar weekly (!) on Resonance FM

Oh #1..also rumour on the streets of London has it that an italian label is re-releasing all the It's War Boys stuff soon.

Oh #2...Milk from Cheltenham were not a Homosexuals side project, L.Voag produced a few songs on their (only) LP and played with them but they were a big plastic jam collective that practised at Cold Storage led by Lepke B.

Oh #3...also two Scottish artists made a film about L Voag aka Xentos a couple of years ago, coming to an art house near you never.

Link here for the film
 
Ahhh, the dreaded 'you know not what you talk about young man'!! I've spent way too much time obsessing on the Homos etc to take that lying down!! I maintain that he's slightly overrated & I say so because he's so often considered THE Homosexual. I don't agree. I have an insane fondness for the Homos proper & while I think that what they all did individually was great, I find that - to my ears - what they did collaboratively was on another level. I don't think you can give one person credit for it. Yeah, he wrote some of their best songs for sure, but to say that "he wrote their best songs" is total overstatment and I simply can't get my head around "they wen't to shit after he left". Total Drop, Nursery Chymes, Jesus, There Are Shy Moons, etc all rival anything on Move, Nancy Sesay etc. Personally, if anything about the Homos is underrated, I think it's Anton's guitar playing. And if my house was on fire, I'd grab the George Harassment record before The Way Out. That said, if my house was on fire & I wasn't faced with the absurd notion that I could grab only one record, I'd grab the whole Homos etc section! It's all interesting, mostly great. I agree that The Way Out is fantastic, but he put his stamp on a lot of records & tapes & after a while, it does gets slightly samey to me. It certainly doesn't take me to the same heights the Homos often do. I do Love the It's War Boys aesthetic though - truly inspiring & deserving of it's own retrospective.

Happily disagreeing on the finer points,
s. miller
 
Yeah, very happy to be happy to disagree! I do think the three of them had something special for a short while...but once the whisky runs out... the party is over as my mother used to say. I don't rate the George Harassment record at all, GREAT sleeve, but just a grab back of out takes and promising stop starts, like looking at an ashtray after the party is over. 'The Way Out' in contrast is the defining masterwerk of that era and the records by Nancy Sesay, Amos & Sara, Tesco Bombers, Sara Goes Pop soon after show what happens when you kick rock'n'roll shtick out of the window and get bendy. Homos story #1 The Police were recording at Surrey Studios the same time as the Homos and Andy Summers left his guitar lying around, Bruno scrawled 'Andy Summers is a wanker' on it - resulting in not a very happy future millionare. Homos story #2 It is known that Amos claims never to have listened to or seen -or neither is he interested in- 'The Homosexuals Record' nor the box set on Hyped To Death PS 'Total Drop' was one of his numbas weren't it?
 
ps - just got "the work - live in japan" reissue on ReR with amos on fantastic heavy prog bass and cute as a button between song patter. the work are easily some of the best post-punk - up there with this heat, homosexuals, early scritti politti and the slits.
 
Hallo to all of you "luvverly" commenters.My name is Bruno Wizard.I started The Homosexuals out of the ashes of my first "official "project The Rejects , who first surfaced in 1976.I have never been a "musician" nor sought to be one...mainly because i LOVE music with all of the transcendental joy it affords my synaesthetic soul..It is a constant source of amazement to me that there are people like your good selves that both torture and delight yourselves with "the truth" behind the burgeoning fantasy of The Homosexuals Myth.I thank each and every one of you
 
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