Posts from January 2010

Jan 10

The FT Top 25 Pubs of the 00s No 9: The Champion, Wells Street WC1

FT7 comments • 1,656 views

For a long, long time my Default London Pub was the Blue Posts on Newman Street. I’m a big fan of the Sam Smiths brand, and the BPNS had it all: cheap, cosy, usually full of people I knew and – most importantly – just around the corner from my office at 76 Oxford Street. When someone suggested going to the Champion one day, just to make a change, I was flabberghasted. Not ONLY would I have to walk a whole hundred yards further to my pub destination,  but… well, it wouldn’t be the SAME, would it? I’d found somewhere I liked, and now it seemed that I would be untimely ripp’d from its warm, comforting embrace. I approached the Champion with a fair measure of resentment.


BIS WEEK: How Bis Are Responsible For Twilight

Do You See4 comments • 405 views

The short answer would be the Secret Vampire Soundtrack, but it would only be a superficial answer. Sure Secret Vampires makes explicit the link between vampirism and pop music, but you would be hard pushed to think that it is any particular clarion call for more vampires in the media. Except at this point of 1995, vampires were at a pretty low ebb. A couple of years after Francis Ford Coppola’s disappointing Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the poor Interview With The Vampire adaptation and the ropey Buffy film, vampires couldn’t be caught dead in the media. Which since they are undead is possibly the point but I digress.

The Secret Vampire Soundtrack contained Kandy Pop which was the track that broke Bis and was responsible for making them the first unsigned band on Top Of The Pops*. As such Bis not only made Vampires fashionable again, they toyed with the idea of vampires not being scary. If Manda Rin, chirpy chanteuse, was a vampire then suddenly the idea of the gothic immortal vampire was turned on its head.


Jan 10

BIS WEEK: Which Is The Best Bis?

FT4 comments • 441 views

It has been the question on everyones lips this week, which exactly is the Best Bis? We bring you the final of this hard fought battle below:

(Note: The department of Business & Information and Skills had a hard fought battle to third place, mainly by virtue of also having a Mandy in charge, but David Lammy is no Sci-Fi Steve. The British Interplanetary Society were also in with a shout but keep arguing about whether Pluto is a planet or not.) So over to our adjudicator Magnus Anderson:



BIS (Bank for International Settlements)


That plan of action in full

FT/Post a comment • 375 views

In the late 90s, in Action and Drama, Bis cast themselves as meta-pop activists:

Pop music’s not gonna die / It just has no direction / We need a plan of action

But what was their plan of action? The accompanying track Eurodisco (a worry about pop stagnating into inward-looking genres) had its best mix by Stuart Price — an Erasure-ish version that omits Manda’s vocals. Where has Manda gone? Price went on to be the main producer of Madonna’s 2005 Confessions album and the non-more Eurodisco Abba-sampling “Hung Up”.


1987: What The F___ Is Going On?

FT + Popular73 comments • 4,671 views

This post is an introduction, I suppose, to the next few years of Popular. It was going to be part of a regular post but it grew into its own thing, so I’m putting it up as its own thing.

The late 80s are strange times for the British pop charts. They’re one of those exciting periods – like the mid-50s, like the late-70s – where different musics and different audiences seem to be at war, where the very question of what pop is – the role it plays in peoples’ lives – is up in the air. But unlike those there’s no settled consensus on who to back. You might still find people who aver that faceless dance records ruined the charts – certainly the people who marketed pop and pop radio seemed to have a horror of them at the time. You will also still find people who snarl at reissues in the Top 40 on a kind of principle. You will find some with a kind word to say about the brazenly cheap pop of the time and others who think Pete Waterman is one of British pop culture’s great monsters.


Jan 10

THE HOUSEMARTINS – “Caravan Of Love”

Popular109 comments • 13,915 views

#581, 20th December 1986, video

Just as Europe’s as close as we’re getting to hair metal, The Housemartins are our nearest brush with 80s indiepop. This isn’t their strident and strummy side, of course: instead it’s a showcase for their deep-rooted brand of socialist Christianity. “Caravan” is to say the least a radical take on Isley-Jasper-Isley’s squelchy 1985 original, turning it into slimmed down Northern gospel and by doing so giving it a sense of place and purpose.


Cashel Blue, Tunworth (cheesy lovers #64 & #65)

FT + Pumpkin Publog2 comments • 453 views

Cashel Blue

A blue pasturised cow’s cheese from Co. Tipperary, Ireland, bought from Neals Yard Dairy

This cheese has a thin, soft, slightly mouldy rind, and is pale yellow inside, with a hefty smattering of greeny-grey veining.

It’s soft and moist, and feels pliable. It melts in my mouth and is at once both wonderfully sweet and creamy, and fresh and sour.


BIS Week: What Is Bis’s Favourite BIScuit

Pumpkin Publog/3 comments • 275 views

Often in scholarly discussions of the revolutionary impact of Bis on the cultural scene in the late nineties, little notice is taken of the trivial. Nevertheless to understand exactly how the Teen-C revolution came about, sometimes the trivial becomes a solid motivational factor. And a key question stands there in plain sight, staring us down with its obviousness. But as pointed out by no less that Garibaldi, many revolutions are predicated on trivial tipping points, and perhaps the blue touch paper of the Teen-C revolution stares at us from their name.

Ie, what did they like to eat with a cup of tea?

BIS WEEK: What is Bis's favourite Biscuit?

  • Iced Gems 39%
  • Johnny Disco Biscuits 17%
  • Garibaldis because Bis is 3/7ths of BIScuit and 3 garibaldis are 3/7ths of a long strip of Garibaldis 17%
  • Rich Tea(n) C 11%
  • Viscounts 11%
  • Kid Cut Kit Kat 6%
  • Steve's Sci-Fig Rolls 0%

Total Voters: 18

Poll closes: 31 Jan 2010 @ 18:19

Loading ... Loading ...

The Apple iTablet: BIS SPEAK OUT

FT//2 comments • 348 views

The self publishing revolution was of course started by Bis in the 1990s with their Teen-C fanzines, so it’s only fair that we go back in time to 1997 and ask them their opinions on today’s rumoured launch of the Apple Tablet which seems set to transform modern day publishing in a similar way by selling loads of ebooks. Take it away, secret vampires!*

Sci-Fi Steve: “Obviously this is a major launch for Apple and should please the tech pundits. But I’m a little worried about the tablet’s robustness. What if I was holding one and wanted to jump excitedly up and down to the sounds of the Kandy Pop revolution? Might it not break?”

Manda Rin: “For a fanzine publisher this is a big step forward, however much depends on whether Apple will pursue the more open-access policy of iTunes or the heavily filtered content offering of the App Store. And how the screen reacts to glitter and shiny star stickers obviously.”

John Disco: “Tablet! Och, my favourite! Apple flavoured? Amazing! Oh, it’s a computer you say.”

*these are not real quotes from the actual Bis. they were made up by us. trigger legal dept.

Jan 10

EUROPE – “The Final Countdown”

FT + Popular111 comments • 7,395 views

#580, 6th December 1986, video

The first metal song to get to number one, which more than anything else tips you off as to what a strange, broad, inclusive-despite-itself church metal is. And yes, this surely qualifies. “The Final Countdown” puts its fanfare riff atop a gallop of power hair and Valkyrie guitars and the result is impeccably pop – so much so it split the band! – but their roots were heavier, trading personnel with Yngwie Malmsteen, paid-up members in good standing of the Swedish Metal Scene.