ALBUM REVIEW: Creation Artifact boxset

Creation Artifact boxset (Cherry Red Records)
Creation Artifact boxset (Cherry Red Records)

Creation Records was the brainchild of music entrepreneur Alan McGee, the man most famous for discovering Britpop kingpins Oasis.

Long before that, however, he founded one of the most important, vital independent labels of the 1980s and 1990s.

Born out of a trendy club night, Creation was the outlet set up by McGee for like-minded musicians to release their work, at a time when major labels wouldn’t touch anything not likely to make the mainstream and a big profit.

After taking out a £1,000 bank loan, he started by putting out the 73 in 83 single by The Legend, aka Everett True, who became one of the label’s mainstays.

Other artists who released singles on Creation include The Jesus And Mary Chain and Primal Scream, whose common member Bobby Gillespie was a good friend of McGee’s from Glasgow.

Its roster also included a host of indie bands who were championed by influential Radio 1 presenter John Peel, such as The Pastels, The Jasmine Minks, The Loft, and The Bodines.

This collection, spread over five discs, concentrates on the early years of Creation’s output, from 1983 to 1985, and many of the songs are available on CD for the first time.

Discs one and two concentrate on the singles, with the JAMC’s Upside Down and Primal Scream’s All Fall Down perhaps the best-known.

But unless you’re a real aficionado of the ‘80s indie scene, there’s plenty more to discover for the first time and enjoy, including The Pastels’ I’m Alright With You, and The Weather Prophets’ Worm In My Brain.

Disc three is rarities and album tracks, which opens the door to the likes of post-punk noisemakers The Membranes, who never had a single on Creation, but did release the album The Gift of Life, represented here by the title track and the slightly deranged I Am Fish Eye.

There’s also a demo of the JAMC’s Just Like Honey, recorded just months before they were snapped up by Warners, providing the finance for McGee to go on releasing records by other up and coming bands.

Demos, 24 of them, and all previously unreleased, make up disc four, and although the quality is variable, you’ll find something to make it worth your while.

The fifth disc comprises rare BBC sessions, recorded for Peel, Janice Long and live broadcasts, and again there’s much to enjoy, particularly from The Loft and Meat Whiplash.

There’s more jangly guitar than you can shake a stick at, and lots of 60s-style organ - quite appropriate, as the label was named after one of McGee’s favourite bands from that era, The Creation.

And yes, there’s the odd song that you’ll find completely unlistenable - such as The Legend’s Arrogant B*******. But isn’t that what indie music is all about?

In true Cherry Red style, the boxset comes in the form of a ‘book-set’, which will look equally at home among your books or CDs.

As well as housing five CDs, the 90-page book features lots of rare memorabilia, a 12,000-word essay from journalist Neil Taylor, band biogs and personal reminiscences.

While many of the bands are long forgotten, McGee and Creation Records certainly haven’t been, and I hope this is the first in a series exploring the label’s entire output before it became defunct in 1999.

With the likes of 3 Colours Red, The Boo Radleys, My Bloody Valentine, Oasis, Ride, Swervedriver and Teenage Fanclub to follow the pioneers featured here, there’s certainly plenty of scope. 8/10. GW