A mate of mine swears that East Village stole all their tricks from Hurrah!, but I think this is a little wide of the mark. There was a general trend in pre-86 British indiepop towards mod (most of Creation’s early roster for starters), of which Hurrah! were definitely a part, and which influenced bands such as East Village who never had any allegiance to the twee side of post C86 indiepop.
I got talking to Mick Bund – then of Mexico 70, previously Felt’s bass player – at Felt’s last ever gig (Tuesday 19 December, 1989; yes, I do still have the ticket stub), at which Mexico 70 were the support. I mentioned that I thought Felt’s Mexican Bandits might owe a little something to Hurrah!’s Hip Hip. Rather alarmed, Mick warned me: “Don’t ever mention that to Lawrence. He’ll go mad.”
I never did mention it to Lawrence. I only ever met him the once, 13 years later, and the moment for that particular observation had passed.
In an interview with the mod fanzine Fight Back in 1982, The Onlookers were asked, “You’ve played locally in your area quite a bit…have you built up a local following?”
Not really. Most of them come from London or just outside – High Wycombe.East Village were from High Wycombe.
An Onlookers retrospective has been planned by Heavenly these past few years. I hope it comes out. Then we can see if The Onlookers’ unreleased Round and Round influenced Hurrah!’s Around and Around. Martin Kelly of East Village is, of course, the MD of Heavenly.
The Onlookers released just one single, You And I/Understand/Julia, on Demon in 1982. You can find all those tracks on the This Is Mod Vol 4 compilation. A year before that, they had two songs (Mystic Surrounds Me and Houseman) on a compilation album of “Slough’s most popular bands & artistes”, Subway.
You’ll notice that The Onlookers had that Groovy Cellar sound of post-punk psych-mod, popular with the TVPs and related bands in the early 80s.