Sarah records is no more, so why this home page? It still means a lot to me
and its impact on the indiepop scene is still there. Just recently the radio
station of the Harvard college did a 16 hour long special program called
the "Sarah Records Orgy".
You should start with reading the history of the label by Julian Lawton below.
Then we have the discography below and another one which lists all songs as well.
If you are interested to know what else
the "Sarah-bands" released on other labels you should check the
One day we would like to have all of them online, but for now it's the
final Sarah Newsletter from January 1996 only.
When it came to an end last summer, some members of the indiepop mailing-list decided to do a
tribute fanzine. Here's the online-version of
This August's farewell kiss.
Rated by many as the indiepop-event of the ninetees, here are some reviews of the
Sarah 100 party.
You should start with reading the history of the label by Julian Lawton below. Then we have the discography below and another one which lists all songs as well. If you are interested to know what else the "Sarah-bands" released on other labels you should check the Sarah connection.
One day we would like to have all of them online, but for now it's the final Sarah Newsletter from January 1996 only. When it came to an end last summer, some members of the indiepop mailing-list decided to do a tribute fanzine. Here's the online-version of This August's farewell kiss. Rated by many as the indiepop-event of the ninetees, here are some reviews of the Sarah 100 party.
Sarah - a great label in the tradition of Postcard & Creation records. A label dedicated to the dying 7" single, to cheap pop, to emotion, to socialism you CAN carry out in your daily life in our world, not to dogma and rhetoric, to living & not saying 'We are the blank generation', to the ideals of both punk rock & hippydom that everone found so embarassing. To be a thorn in everyone's side, despite being a marginal irrelevance. To make you think, to make you feel, to make you love, laugh, cry, and to make you rush in every Monday they release something to buy it, half the time for the insert they write as much as for the records.
Once upon a time Matt Haynes wrote a fanzine with a friend called Are You Scared To Get Happy? which had the unfortunate effect of being SO GOOD everyone tried to copy it & most fell on their faces, because Matt genuinely believed in what he thought & said, while the others believed what Matt said (hence causing problems & schisms as Matt's opinion changed).
At the same time Clare Wadd was writing Kvatch which I've never seen to my shame so I can't comment on it. So back to talking about Matt's end of it - AYSTGH, as it became known, was political with a small 'p' - it was about the politics of life & attacked the growing commercialism of the UK indie scene - the way that HIS heroes, like Alan McGee of Creation, had adopted the marketing tactics of the majors - ltd.ed singles, extra 12" tracks, etc. This resulted in a grand theory in favour of the 7" as the only true pop format, an attack on over-production of music, and over-pricing. And so appeared Sha-la-la records, set up by Matt & some like minded associates; releasing only flexi discs, distributed with fanzines, the label was an attempt at something pure - most of the flexis were 2 bands, although the Poppyheads issued a 4 track flexi-EP. Quite a lot of these flexis are simply brilliant & someone, somewhere ought to persuade the owners to make a compilation LP.
AYSTGH still makes amazingly inspiring reading these days - Matt's prose is as evocative (and 'wimpy') as much of the music he put out. The wimpy tag is a misnomer - it's angry (with capitalism, with sell-outs & compromise, with people who criticise without acting), it's beautiful in a way I can't explain (look read some of those notes on the single sleeves and you'll know what its like) - I once yelped aloud when somehow it came to close to the bone for me which is odd.It's hopelessly idealistic in the face of the fact that he knows it's all going to be shattered (maybe that's the beauty of it - the belief because you have to have something to believe in), it's heartbroken by bands like McCarthy preaching socialism then treating their fans like shit. But above all it communicates love.
At some point he & Clare got together (I think it had something to do with the Sea Urchins actually (Kvatch just beat Sha-La-La to getting them on a flexi)), moved in & formed Sarah, which was a kind of hard vinyl continuation of before.
Sarah 4 is the first joint fanzine & give's you an idea of their shared perspective on life - socialist ideals dashed on the rocks again & again but still hoping that maybe this time, maybe it might work.
Clare's half starts off with self-doubt about whether running a politically & ideologically sound record label and being a sociology student is really just an excuse not to get a crappy job - "Some days I hate myself so much it makes me CRY." But then she explains how important The Orchids are, and I can't explain just what her & Matt's style of prose does to me but it moves me & I now know why I love Sarah records so much. Walking 18 miles to see the Groove Farm - mention of places near where I was born (Sarah's based 5 minutes walk from the hospital, now a luxury old people's home because it was too nice a building for the NHS). Her & Matt's I don't know, yearning for something more, bring me that same feeling that Another Sunny Day & The Field Mice do - close to tears but happy because you know how alive you are. Obviously a lot of other people feel this way too, hence the success of Sarah!!
Matt's half is a hilarious story, half reality/half fantasy - Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream treated as a fantasy character like Santa, with his gnome Alan (I wonder who), and the introduction of the reindeer (later to crop up in the 'sleevenotes') - an attack on the music press (for calling him narrow- minded when rap fans are 'specialists'), on the fans (for not digging Talulah Gosh because the press made it so embarrasing), on Socialists (for listening to the Redskins & Billy Bragg instead of music to incite them indirectly to revolution), of love in Bristol (hmmm, yummy!). Importantly with this was the Another Sunny Day flexi, but I'll explain that later.......
Sarah 14 was two fanzines - Cold & Lemonade (together with the Christine's Cat flexi) - Clare's is a hilarious feminist rant (not hilarious because of it's politics but because of what she says) - it opens with a direct attack on fanzines written by boys for boys about girlie bands, or boys singing about girls "... but then it's probably because you kept blathering on about fields and trees and stars when all she wanted was a bloody good FUCK..." Anger at the fact that everyone just thought Sarah was Matt (and his girlfriend), and some self-mockery too ("and where... hem.... "Feminine Hygeine" items are not only TAXED, but are also found to contain vast amounts of cancer-inducing bleaches, it'd be hard not to believe someone was out to get me"). Mention made of Insight fanzine - run by Tim of Harriet Records - PO BOX 649, Cambridge, MA 02238
Matt's half is another amusing tale - starting off "I remember when we all used to ride bikes.... now we all want to sound like Dinosaur Jr.", of Fieldmice lyrics (see later again), more self-mockery, and attacks on the people who didn't follow the REAL point of AYSTGH (not what bands to like, a set of (non) production values, but an attitude, a way of life).
I've not seen Sunstroke yet, but I've read every other little slip of trash given away with the singles & brilliant & bitterly funny it is too. Recently the handouts have gone 2-sided, with the other side being a sad melancholy evocative piece of memory from Matt or Clare (strangely always putting me in the same frame of mind as Tea Time Song by The Pastels, but that's a reference just TOO snobby to be made (yep, I've got The Pastels 'Songs For Children' on tape.... another joke for some of you to get!).
Hell, I'm sat here reviewing the writings of the label bosses, and not the bands - my god - but it's almost as important, and what really distinguishes them from other labels (Ivo has This Mortal Coil, Alan McGhee has Biff Bang Pow! and Sarah write, and do they write!!). Record labels should ONLY be run by poets.
Following initial good press (a good few of the first 10 releases got Single Of The Weeks) the backlash against janglepop began in earnest & Sarah were knocked & derided to great extent, though this had the additional benefit of making them so unhip they became a cult (I bet Egg records, or Lust wish they were as publicly & vociferously hated) which ensured their success. The Field Mice saw something of a turning point, with Sensitive making John Peel's festive 50 & a few pre-conceptions beginning to fall - as they've made more money so've the records released mounted up - since this time last year we've had nearly 20 singles, and 7 mini-LPs/LPs, which is a good percentage of their catalogue (just under half) - considering that the other half took since November 1987 to mid-1990 to release, one can say that Sarah now looks to be safely established. The Fieldmice have layed down 14 tracks in the studio for a forthcoming full length LP, are not now going to split, the label have found a new group Blueboy (after an Orange Juice song I suspect) that they say is their best yet (I know what they mean! Until tommorow that is and they get another demo) who've recorded a debut single which means they've quite a bit in the pipeline. With time people's preconceptions of the label should fall, although I hope this isn't caused by them becoming less sensitive and emotional but my more people admitting that side of music into their lives, and the fact that 'the kids' coming up won't even be able to follow the jangly-pop-scene/backlash/reaction against the backlash thing. They'll cease to be as important then, as a label, but the music should always remain vital.