Jul 10

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today AKA What Were Candy Flip Thinking?

FT/12 comments • 1,433 views

(I originally posted this in my MP3 posting experiment, It Took Seconds – I’m going to make an effort to reformat selected Tumblr posts for FT from now on, since this is and should be my ‘main’ blog outlet.)

Candy Flip’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” is an interesting record because it manages to be basely cynical and winningly naive at the same time. On the cynical side, yes, this is a brazen cash in. Perpetually-fucked singing and a beat lazily gesturing in the rough direction of hip-hop were the currency of hip British pop in 1990 and Candy Flip were well aware of it. At the time I assumed that THE MAN was behind them but whether they were “manufactured” or not there’s no need for them to have been. The boundaries between a novelty single, an underground sensation and a pop smash have never been thinner than at this point in time, and it was a good time for people who had an idea for a record to actually go through with it.

This is also the utopian charm of the thing. At the heart of “indie dance” was an ideal of musical subcultures coming together. Which in turn was part of a greater mythologising of club culture (and Ecstasy) as a dissolver of difference – even a kid like me with no interest in sports was aware that hooligans were meant to be hugging on the terraces under the influence of the “Love Drug”. And that tied in with all kinds of wider stuff in the culture – “positivity” as a philosophy, Benetton, the idea that the 90s would be a decade of Aquarian goodwill after the ‘decade of greed’. And then ladder up high enough and you get to the apparently ultimate dissolution of differences, the end of the Cold War. “Bob Dylan never had this to sing about” – and crucially, nor did Lennon.

So from this angle two kids doing a limply dancey version of a Beatles track wasn’t the act of hubris it would have seemed like even five years later: “pop history” was less routinely glorified and more liquid, and for a season or two it seemed like the happy destiny of every old sound was to be improved by the addition of house piano and/or the ‘Funky Drummer’ sample. Candy Flip aren’t trying to stake a claim to membership of a pantheon (which was behind all of Oasis’ Beatle obsession), they’re simply inviting the Beatles to a different, better party. The turn of the 90s were the last time for a while that British pop stars didn’t reflexively believe things were better in the 60s.


  1. 1
    Pete Baran on 6 Jul 2010 #

    This turned me off of the entire “baggy” scene for quite some time, which is odd in as much as I have never had an awful lot of fondness for the original. But this kind of sat in a perfect story of starting to dislike the Chart Show Indie Chart, their own fecklessness, my sister liking it* and everyone else having that bloody remastered version of Sgt Pepper on CD and proclaiming it the best album ever when its just a pretty weak Beatles album.

    It may also be due to an early expose to the Sgt Pepper film as a kid.

    I think It Took Seconds is an awesome project by the way, glad I was reminded to subscribe.

  2. 2
    punctum on 6 Jul 2010 #

    My thoughts on this track from some time back on Blue In The Air (I’ve left it out of the book): http://garbocathedral.blogspot.com/2008_03_31_archive.html

  3. 3
    Mike Atkinson on 6 Jul 2010 #

    FUN CANDY FLIP FACT: My late sister-in-law used to go out with the singer’s brother. So there was quite a ripple of familial excitement (and general Stoke pride) when this charted.

  4. 4
    lonepilgrim on 6 Jul 2010 #

    it’s pleasant enough as long as you don’t have to pay too much attention to it – the rhythm track is pretty dull though. the video, with it’s burning sheet music and smashed violins is suitably iconoclastic but also hints at a terrace casual menace that lay beneath the loved up vibe

  5. 5
    Tom on 6 Jul 2010 #

    (On the original tumblr post I admitted the record isn’t actually very good, incidentally. Discussion does not reflect endorsement in this case.)

  6. 6
    CarsmileSteve on 6 Jul 2010 #

    more jesus jones references please! ;)

    in my head i had this as the fag end of baggy, but a little everyhitting implies it comes six months before groovy train/i’m free/shall we take a trip alwaysbeenadancelementtoourmusic zenith…

  7. 7
    Steve Mannion on 6 Jul 2010 #

    2nd cassingle I ever bought I think, just after De La Soul’s ‘The Magic Number/Buddy’. Loved it an embarrassing amount. The b-side ‘Aqua Libra’ was a more “serious” Balearic piano track in the vein of BBG’s ‘Snappiness’ and along with ‘Can You Feel The Love’ suggested they could’ve moved closer to club credibility (at least as much as, say, The Beloved), but didn’t.

  8. 8
    Kat but logged out innit on 6 Jul 2010 #

    HANG ON we have an FT category for ‘baggy’?

  9. 9
    admin on 7 Jul 2010 #

    feel free to go and tag up any article with baggy ;-)

  10. 10
    carsmilesteve on 8 Jul 2010 #

    there is not enough time in the day…

  11. 11
    Trevor St. James on 2 Oct 2011 #

    I loved the Madstock album by Candyflip, especially Redhills Road. I still listen to it.

  12. 12
    Mandy on 28 Jun 2013 #

    I remember this group coming to the ANGELS in Burnley singing and what a nite that was , I went we the singing and back to the kerby hotel. It was a very good party. Those were the days.

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