Bristol Archive Records Blog

The Best of Fried Egg Records – Album Reviews

Record Collector Review:

Various Artists – The Best Of Fried Egg Records (Bristol 1979-1980)

Sunny side up, despite a bit of attitude


The Bristol scene always had plenty going for it, from the city’s uniquely West Country vibrancy to the perennial Ashton Court free festival, not to mention its competitive spirit with outlying areas Bath and Warminster’s own punk-inspired agents provocateurs. So if this is a collection of bands now largely forgotten outside of their hometown, it’s still not difficult to hear the multi-cultural urban bohemianism that lit their fires and informed their output.

Andy Leighton’s Fried Egg label, active for the short time span of this compilation’s title, was to the fore of Bristol’s indefatigable and diverse spirit. That possibly the most significant development among the represented bands is that Art Objects morphed into The Blue Aeroplanes is no matter; and let’s neither worry that, like The Crystal Theatre actors troupe, recorded here as ska punk hybrid Shoes For Industry, haranguing us for being “unaware of everything they’ve got prepared” in their anti-politics tirade Jerusalem, these are lyrically of their moment.

Revel in the days when someone could rant about “the economy being a blunt instrument against the poor” and fire up the masses – or at least their corner of the long gone Tiffanys or Carwardines. Provincial punk. Cracking.


Bristol Archive | ARC 119 CD

Reviewed by Ian Abrahams


Out now.
SOUNDS LIKE? Well, it’s old, forgotten music, innit? Turn of the eighties old, the kinda stuff that was being independently released when Ian Dury was giving out reasons to be cheerful, and Ian Curtis was tying his last knot. It was when Punk was becoming New Wave, before Factory invented The Hacienda and Madness wore baggy trousers, and after The Sex Pistols swore on television and Bowie released everything that pissed on his seventies career. It was a time when anything was possible, or seemed so, that was until Bristol got involved and everyone ignored them.

It was a time of great change and possibilities, a time when everyone could be and wanted to be a rock star. You no longer needed talent, tuneful songs or garish costumes, no, you needed clever managers, shouty songs and dirty ripped up bondage gear, but everyone thought you just needed to get out there and gig gig gig. So they did. In their own cities, with the arbitrary trip to play some London dive that everyone thought was cool. And when you look at it like that, not much has changed. Same shit, different decade, but come on, this is music land, nothing much changes apart from the bands stay the same age and everyone else grows up and gets nostalgic for when they were the same age too.
So that’s the market this compilation is going for. Nostalgics and historians, young bands who need educating on what has come before and those who were around back then but couldn’t find one of the three copies that were pressed at the time.
None of the bands on this compilation were influential, more influenced by what was around them. If you like the New Wave sound and want to discover some bands that were part of what made the Eighties sound the way it did, then check this compilation, it’s worthy of a listen if only to let you know that there have been copyists and bandwagoners around for as long as music has been around.  There’s a difference between being historic and being timeless, and this compilation straddles the former category.

Taken form –


Various artists- The Best of Fried Egg Records (Bristol 1979 – 1980) Review by Rob S


Celebrating the varied fruits of Bristol’s Post punk/punk/pop/etc scene at the tail end of the seventies, ‘The Best Of Fried Egg Records (Bristol 1979-1980)’ does exactly what it says on the tin. At the time, Bristol based Fried Egg records played host to the crème de la crème of local talent (I.e., a slightly bizarre mix of resolutely un-commercial, experimental and idiosyncratic artists of all ages and denominations,) and this collection features a number of the most memorable and oddly compelling acts to emerge from this brief period of convention flouting creativity, including bands such as The Various Artists, Art Objects and brilliantly named Exploding Seagulls.

Yes, this is as strange a listen as you might hear this side of David Lynch’s brain… eccentric, quintessentially British, and an essential listen for those who witnessed the short lived phenomenon first hand, as well as musical historians and music fans who lament the loss of song titles such as ‘Johnny Runs For Paregoric’ and ‘Sheepdog Trial Inna Babylon.’ Like in much music from the period, there’s genius (of a sort) to be found here… let’s pop this one under ‘cult listen/acquired taste’ shall we?Rating Out of 10:



-  Genre: ‘Indie’ –  Release Date: ’1st February 2010′-  Catalogue No: ‘ARC119CD’


Our Rating:


Bristol has generated enough seismic music to resonate for several lifetimes still to come. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking of the quick body blow it landed thanks to The Cortinas during the Punk era, or the way it turned Art-Pop inside out with crazed Marxist militants The Pop Group, or inveigled its’ way into the charts with Pigbag. And, on a bigger scale, the way it defined the Trip-Hop genre thanks to the combined efforts of Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky.As with all such fascinating scenes, though, it’s often when you move away from the headline-makers and into the smaller print that the most intriguing characters begin to surface. I’ve no idea whether Fried Egg’s mysterious head honcho Andy Leighton (who has allegedly disappeared since inheriting a Caribbean island) would care to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Factory’s Tony Wilson or Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis, but the 11 tunes (plus a further clutch of magical additional tracks) can only make this reviewer wonder how on earth Fried Egg’s coterie of wonderfully individualistic releases never came to bother the scorers on a wider scale.Possibly it was Leighton’s diversity that sank him. Three decades on, of course, words like ‘eclectic’ are welcomed in like long lost friends, but back in 1979 his ability to cherry pick the best of whatever floated his boat may have confused a lot of people. However, ‘The Best of Fried Egg Records’ proves he was right all along. It’s a glorious selection of single-minded talents doing their thang with scant regard for career or fortune and most of it sounds fantastic today.If (like me) you’re long enough in the tooth, you might remember a few of Fried Egg’s movers and shakers. SHOES FOR INDUSTRY and Gerard Langley’s pre-Blue Aeroplanes outfit ART OBJECTS I recall from many an hour in the company of John Peel’s show, while the long-lost (and brilliant) ELECTRIC GUITARS almost cracked it with the serrated genius of their single ‘Work (included here in fully-furnished demo mode), but it turns out a whole load more great gear was lurking within Fried Egg’s long-dormant archive all the time.Like Manchester, Bristol has always appreciated the importance of the dance floor. This is a tenet both SHOES FOR INDUSTRY and PETE BRANDT’S METHOD clearly understood. SFI weigh in with one of the album’s major stand-outs courtesy of ‘Jerusalem.’ It may be influenced by William Blake’s hymn of the same name, but SFI’S ‘Jerusalem’ is a pock-marked state of the nation address (“your goose is cooked, your coffin booked/ no detail has been overlooked”) which may relate to the early days of the Thatcher regime, but sounds equally relevant today. It’s not quite as out-there as The Pop Group or as taut as the Gang of Four, but it’s no less memorable for that. PETE BRANDT’S METHOD follow up with ‘Positive Thinking’ is another one whose spine is the bassline, though its’ Roxy Music-style cool is a seduction of a more sophisticated kind.





Elsewhere, Leighton clearly had an ear for cool New Wave pop. To this end, witness THE WILD BEASTS (not to be confused with Leeds’ theatrical Glamsters) whose charming ‘Minimum Maximum’ reminds me of the equally long-lost Freshies. Arguably even better are both THE FANS, whose fine Stalker anthem ‘Following You’ has bags of tuneful charisma and THE VARIOUS ARTISTS, whose ‘Original Mixed Up Kid’ certainly should have gone Top 20 in a world which took The Jags’ ‘Back of my Hand’ to its’ heart. That it didn’t is truly mystifying.Elsewhere, I assume Gerard Langley may well be referring to his own ART OBJECTS project when he mentions “a performance poet backed by college rockers who were also Bristol’s premier pop band”, and certainly their track ‘Hard Objects’ is blissfully off-kilter and swings gloriously into the bargain. THE STINGRAYS, meanwhile, treat us to their genius, low-watt Eddy Cochrane and heroic courtesy of ‘Exceptions’ (love it!); THE UNTOUCHABLES strut their Dr. Feelgood-meets-Stones R’n’B raunch on ‘Keep on Walking’ and the immortally-named EXPLODING SEAGULLS deconstruct Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ and concoct itchy suburban Pop of the first water with the madcap ‘Johnny Runs for Paregoric.’ Squawk!Whether Fried Egg could have survived in a world ruled by the mainstream and hard-headed business decisions is doubtful, especially if Gerard Langley’s informed press release is to be taken at face value. However, their fearless eclecticism and devil may care attitude is gloriously represented with this ‘Best of’ collection and suggests Andy Leighton’s singular vision has been neglected for far too long.




author: Tim Peacock

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