Thursday, 7 May 2015

Clandestine Classic XLI - Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow

Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow by Felt
The forty-first post in an occasional series that is intended to highlight songs that you might not have heard that I think are excellent - clandestine classics, if you will. Maybe they'll be by bands you've never heard of. Maybe they'll be by more familiar artists, but tracks that were squirelled away on b-sides, unpopular albums, radio sessions or music magazine cover-mounted CDs. Time will, undoubtedly, tell.

I'll be honest, you can write what I know about Felt on the back of a beer mat. In fact, scrub that, the back of a postage stamp. Their Wikipedia page tells me that they were an alternative three/four-piece band from Birmingham who plied their trade from 1979 to 1989, centred around the vocals, guitar and songwriting of Lawrence Hayward (or just Lawrence, as he was known then). During that time, they released ten studio albums, five compilations (that's a lucrative ratio right there) and a dozen singles. I can't tell you if any of these troubled the mainstream charts unduly, which suggests that they didn't. They were indie chart frequent flyers though.

Today's Classic, the somewhat wordily title Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow, was released in July 1984, according to the aforementioned Wikipedia page, and spectacularly failed to chart. So how come it's still remembered so fondly now? To the extent that it was even featured on a thoroughly excellent Mojo magazine cover-mounted CD in October 2012?

Well, as you might expect, I've got a theory about this. I can't speak for the rest of Felt's output, as this is the only song of theirs that I own, but Sunlight does seem to incorporate five or six different indie/alternative sounds all in one handy three-minute package. Let's have a listen to illustrate the point: that bass intro puts me in mind of The Cure, and that chiming guitar line reminds me of early Edge, before everyone started resenting U2. The rhythmic, repetitive, sinuous rhythm-as-lead guitar motif is Smithsonian, whilst the vocal delivery is reminiscent of Talking Heads, with maybe a touch of The Blue Aeroplanes for good measure. The backing vocal/harmonies sort of suggest the Cocteau Twins and/or Lush, and probably some other 4AD bands of the day too. The bassline sounds a bit like Mike Mills, pre Warner Brothers REM, as do the strings that begin around the middle eight. And of course the whole thing concludes with that Cure and U2 referencing outro.

So there we go. Whatever else Felt may or may not have done in their decade in the sun shade, they at least produced a song that is effectively a sampler of so many things that were good about the indie music scene in the 1980s. For that alone, it deserves to be cherished. You can find Sunlight on the one-size-fits-all compilation Gold Mine Trash. Or you can try before you buy with YouTube, thus:

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