PERUSING SAM KNEE’S monumental UK indie style tome The Scene Between and pondering that daily conundrum, ‘What would Eugene Kelly wear today?’, I’m struck by the genuine fashion surprises sprung by early-’80s UK indie pop, years before second-hand became vintage and Orange Juice could start a mini-trend for coonskin caps and plastic sandals without a streetsmart Urban Outfitters style sniffer barging in and ruining it all. OJ’s Sound Of Young Scotland compadres, Aztec Camera – back in the news now a resurgent Roddy Frame is to play AC’s swoonsome 30-year-old debut album, High Land, Hard Rain in its entirety – were also blazing a fashion trail, with suede fringed jackets and bootlace ties, holding a torch for The Notorious Byrd Brothers and other anachronisms, like the Chet Atkins-indebted guitar solos that flew from the prodigious Frame’s succession of Gibson and Gretsch hollowbodies.
But what’s going on here? Roddy Frame and co. in 1983, delivering the ornamental delicacy of High Land, Hard Rain’s We Could Send Letters on The Switch (anyone remember that?) in matching Sergio Tacchini tracksuits? Like they’re Vitas Gerulaitis or something?
Brilliant song aside, is this a betrayal of the Oxfam-tanned, Walter The Softy aesthetic of the burgeoning indie cult, or a flashing foresight of the terrace style codes of baggy and rave that would transform the indie subculture, and sweep its fun-phobia away at the end of the decade?
Whichever, the Great Tacchini Experiment was never repeated – at least in public – and Frame/Aztec Camera would transmogrify into a quality mainstream pop act, though somewhere amid the video gloss something was lost, and Frame spent much of the ’90s, and under his own name in the new century, clawing it back.