Thursday, February 25, 2010

Where's Rupert? Can you spot him?


I recently received a selection of CDs from legendary Scottish indie band The Hardy Boys. For those of you ignorant of their unjustly insignificant mark in the music world, I suggest you purchase a copy of the Let The World Smother You CD on Egg records. They released one fabulous 12" single on Stella Five records which appears to have been based in Shrewsbury although the record was produced in Edinburgh in August 1989. What the mysterious connection between Shropshire and Scotland is I am at a loss to impart.

Those involved in this essential slice of quality pop confection were Michael Bonini on keyboards, Alan Bannister on guitar and vocals, John White on vocals and guitar, David McArthur on bass and vocals and Ian McLachlan on drums. Lead track Wonderful Lie has surfaced on a Japanese comp called Pop Renaissance and you can also hear it on their MySpace page along with some other splendid songs. Hunt hard for that first single for believe me if you never hear it you should weep mournful tears as you range the Shropshire meadows in despair. Should it pop up on ebay be prepared to sacrifice that summer holiday, it's been known to sell for over £300.

The Hardy Boys formed in 1985 and hailed from Greenock. Various songs were recorded for comps in Europe and America before the Wonderful Lie single was released. Arduous touring in a battered van in 1990 failed to stir a slumbering public and the band split after a gig in the granite city of Aberdeen on December 3, 1990.

It was hardly all change though as the split amounted to nothing more than kicking John White out of the band and adapting the Human Torch's battle cry "Flame On" to Flame Up. Under this name the band they hoped to set the world ablaze. Within a few weeks John had rejoined the band but they kept the new name which, in hindsight, proved to be a mistake as a new moniker ensured getting gigs was a difficulty. There was a slightly tougher edge to their new sound which seemed more suited to the indiepop landscape of the time. Yet little impact was made despite their new material being equally as vibrant and hook-heavy as the Hardy Boys stuff. They released a 7" in 1992, Need I Say More/Mr.God, which an inattentive public failed to notice (including myself). Then in 1993 John quit the band. This inconvenience was countered by David McArthur taking on vocal duties and recruiting Brian Branford on guitar. But in 1994 they called it a day.

Was it all over? No. Michael, John and Derek Mullen recorded ten songs between 1997 and 1999 and released a CD entitled Nova Scotia. Then in 2000 Michael moved to Canada but before he departed a Hardy Boys/Flame Up reunion played a one off gig.

Is it all over now? No. More Hardy Boys gigs are promised in the future and an LP will be released in the coming months. Fortunately one of Scotland's finest bands are still conjuring up superior tunes and it's about time you listened.

Thanks to Michael Bonini for the extremely informative letter without which I couldn't have written this piece.