Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Laughing Apple

“We were initially inspired when we first heard the Sex Pistols in 1977, & decided to buy instruments”
sleeve notes to The ha ha hee hee! ep

In 1978, Alan McGee, Andrew Innes and Bobby Gillespie formed a band. A terrible punk band, in fact; one of the many who showed that the "here is a chord: now hit it” approach to forming a band wasn’t quite so easy. McGee remembers Gillespie’s “vocals” as screaming while rolling around on the floor.

Four rehearsals later and that band imploded. Innes and McGee joined future Commotion Neil Clarke in H20, who eventually found synth-pop chart fame in 1983. McGee explained: "I was only in the band for three weeks, and four gigs. But Andrew Innes and Neil Clarke also were both in H2O - if I'm gonna take the blame, then they may as well get it too! They we realised it was gonna be crap so we left and formed Newspeak, and then we formed the Laughing Apple.”

The Laughing Apple’s debut, The ha ha hee hee ep, is, if not crap itself, then far from fully formed. Released on their own Autonomy label in 1981, it mines a seam of agitated Talking Heads-style punk with keyboard overload – only with song titles such as “Chips For Tea” and “I’m Okay” - similar to the way The Go-Betweens came unstuck on their Send Me A Lullaby debut, only much worse.

The second Autonomy release, is Partcipate!/Wouldn’t You?, two mod classics of urgent guitars and passionate frenzy that would be a foretaste of Biff Bang Pow!’s first steps and co-Creation conspirators The Jasmine Minks’ similarly intense drive.

A final release on their own Essential label in 1982, Celebration/Precious Feeling, showcases the only Laughing Apple songs credited to just McGee, rather than the band. Obviously influenced by the prevailing goth wind of the time and showing too much interest in the Joy Division back catalogue, this release doesn’t merit your listening time.

I’ve uploaded Participate! and Wouldn't You?, the finest Laughing Apple output, so you can hear two great songs, which seem to still be overlooked, stepping stones to Biff Bang Pow! and the early Creation Records' sound.

Bobby Gillespie designed both of the Autonomy sleeves – no information is given about the Essential release. Gillespie worked in a print factory for a short time after leaving school at 16 and made a contact enabling him to arrange their printing. This was to be very handy to Creation in their early days, too.

Curiously, "The first-ever Primal Scream gig was at the Bungalow Bar in Paisley", Gillespie claimed. "We supported the Laughing Apple. Only one song in the set was ours, and I remember it was just total noise. That wasn't a real gig, it was a joke. There wasn't any shape to it."

Quotes from a Record Collector article by John Reed, May 1994.

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