Books — May 28, 2014 at 7:36 am

‘C86 & All That’ book to chronicle the U.K.’s 1983-1986 indie-pop revolution

C86 front

Ex-NME music writer Neil Taylor — who co-compiled the original C86 compilation tape and curated next month’s expanded 3CD reissue — is writing a book about the U.K. indie-pop scene between 1983 and 1986 that promises to “be the gospel according to those who were truly passionate about the music,  and took up voice to let everyone know.”

Taylor’s book, “C86 & All That: Indie 1983-86,” is scheduled to be published next spring, and is being funded through a Kickstarter campaign. To date, Taylor has exceeded his £5,000 funding goal, but says, in an email, that he’s “desperate to get the book written, and although the campaign has gained a fair bit of momentum, more funding would lead to the book the period deserves.”

From Taylor’s description of the project:

Between 1983 and 1986 a revolution took place in indie music, with a sudden explosion of new bands, record labels, fanzines and clubs. Bored with the synth(etic) drivel of the charts, The June Brides, Shop Assistants, The Pastels, Yeah Yeah Noh, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Big Flame, the Wedding Present, Miaow, The Mighty Lemon Drops, Bogshed, The Membranes, Fuzzbox, A Witness, The Wolfhounds and dozens of others reached out, fusing punk ethics and pop art tactics to created a DIY sound unequalled since the time of Punk. The music was played in clubs like The Living Room, The Cellar Bar at Thames Poly, Bay 63 and Room At The Top and released on labels like Creation, Pink, Ron Johnson, Vinyl Drip, 53rd & 3rd, Subway Organisation, Vindaloo and In Tape. Hundreds of fanzines sprang up to document the moment.

Yet incredibly there has been no comprehensive book on the music or period that many recognise as ‘the birth of Indie’. Until now. I was fortunate to be witness to and write about many of the bands and key moments of the period – I was there when the records came out, when the riots took place, and I co-compiled the legendary NME tape C86 which codified the music and 28 years later remains a powerful cultural icon. For every one of those 28 years I have wanted to write in depth about those times and bands – almost all of whom I interviewed for the NME – and the time has now come to do it!

This won’t be the boring, conventional music history. Yes, I’ll revisit the established music press for their take, but will focus as well on the thousands of fanzine interviews that the bands and label heads gave at the time, talk to the musicians and fans. It will cover both the more melodic sound more commonly associated with Indie and the more discordant side which tends to get overlooked. It will, more than anything, be the gospel according to those who were truly passionate about the music – and took up voice to let everyone know. I’ll revisit my own archive of interviews and am part way through conducting a further 50 or so interviews. I’ll keep everybody updated throughout. Many, if not all, of the major players involved have agreed to speak with me for the project.

To learn more, and to contribute, visit the “C86 & All That” Kickstarter page.

And check out Taylor’s pitch video below.







  1. Paul Moses

    Nothing on Factory? The biggest “indie” label of the 80’s? Or was that the source of the “synth(etic) drivel” he dismisses?

  2. Hi Paul, no Factory artist’s featured on the original C86 compilation, neither did any 4AD, Rough Trade or Mute, which at that time had established acts on their roster as well as beginning to enjoy some chart success. C86 sought to represent a new wave of indie popstars and labels hoping to claim the later half of the decade as Factory et al had claimed the first half. Mind you, the Happy Mondays are included on the bonus disc, so everyone’s a winner.

    • I thought Miaow were a Factory band?
      Anyway, Its strange how the C86 sound is often characterised as jingly jangly bedwetter music when a lot of stuff on it was confrontational and deliberately awkward such as: Big Flame, Stump, Bogshed, Membranes Witness etc

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