Finally after being gone for 14 years and having all their records out of print someone (Hurray Cherry Red!) has seen fit to release a best of cd for Adorable. For a band which seemed to be able to write catchy anthemic songs at the drop of a hat, why wasn’t fame forthcoming for them? Well, the year was 1992 and the UK scene was looking for it’s next big thing, as the shoegazers weren’t selling enough papers, the NME and Melody Maker went out looking to find the next best new bands in Britain. Suede was quickly anointed with this title, even before they’d even released their first single. Adorable was also in the running for next big thing, and were consequently lumped in with the music weekly concocted new glam movement. Adorable never really fit in with the new glams, actually no one did except for Suede, hell I even remember Radiohead getting put into the new glam movement once or twice back then. You gotta sell papers, right? Adorable looked more to Echo and the Bunnymen, House of Love and the Chameleons for their blueprint where Suede was really, as I remember someone deridingly called it, Bowimania.
So Adorable seemed a little out of place at the time, while they had something in common with the shoegazer bands of the time, they were much more in your face not only with their music, but also with their attitude. Their first single Sunshine Smile got single of the week in the NME and it made the charts, but the band sabotaged everything coming off as arrogant prima donnas in one their first NME interviews. Their arrogance was reminiscent of what Ian McCulloch use to spout off in interviews about being the best band in the world (though McCulloch didn’t really get super arrogant until Ocean Rain) and it pretty much assured that no major UK paper would interview them again.
While they had the big guitars (and pedals) of the shoegazers, their secret weapon was bassist Wil (full name Steven Williams but simply known as Wil for Adorable purposes). Almost every great Adorable was propelled by a killer bass line, be it Homeboy, Sistine Chaple Ceiling, Feed Me, or Glorious. And then even if it wasn’t prominently carrying the song, the melody and inventiveness of Wil’s playing gave the songs that little extra something that other bands just didn’t have. Don’t get me wrong, Pete’s plaintive, melancholic and slightly detached voice and those soaring guitars are dead cool and get me every time, but I would argue that Wil’s bass was on par for importance in the band as Hooky’s was in New Order.
I was lucky enough to see them live when they made their only trip across the pond back in 1993. They played the old 9:30 Club in DC to a half full room, and the old 9:30 was not very big. Why weren’t these guys bigger? You would think that a band resurrecting the greatness of Echo and the Bunnymen, and the Chameleons would have been huge. I chalk it up to a couple things, the first being bad timing. If this band were to put out Sunshine Smile today they would quite likely be huge, or at least I’d like to thing they would be. The other being the indifferent record label syndrome. Signed to Creation just as Creation was about ready to go into full time Oasis mode, they just didn’t get attention they deserved from their UK label, and SBK, their label over here in the states didn’t seem to know what to do with a band that didn’t sound like Jesus Jones. Well it’s all over now, except for the looking back and that’s exactly what the Cherry Red Footnotes release is for. It cherry picks pretty much ever good Adorable song, including all 7 singles, some b-sides and album tracks that could have been singles. I was looking over the track list and there wasn’t any glaring omissions. Really, nothing major missing at all! My only gripe is that there wasn’t anything new on it. I do know there are 3 or 4 songs that never got released, but having heard them I can say that they really don’t measure up to superb quality of what the band actually released. So if you are new to the band this cd is a great introduction, especially since all their stuff has been out of print for a while. Even if you have the Against Perfection album, there are a handful of tracks from the second album Fake which never saw a US release and the b-sides.
Depending on the day this is my favorite Adorable song. On the days that it isn’t A to Fade In.
And a few that didn’t make onto the compilation.
Wait there’s more. (I promise I will end this post eventually). I was at a local record store last week and came across four of Adorable’s singles for a $1 each. I couldn’t let these excellent singles languish in the back corner of a record store, so I brought them home with me. Since I already have them, that either makes me obsessive or just crazy. So to make it seem to myself that I’m not crazy I’m offering them up to anyone that wants one, just leave a comment or email me letting me know which one you want and I’ll mail it off to you. I’ve got the Sunshine Smile, I’ll be Your Saint, Sistine Chapel Ceiling and the Favourite Fallen Idol singles all waiting for new home. The Favourite Fallen Idol single is the reall orphan here, because though it is the FFI cd, it is the sleeve for the Vendetta single. Not sure how that happened, but it still plays great.
Further Adorable reading:
An excellent interview with Pete Fijalkowksi talking about his days in Adorable, his next band Polak and alluding to having solo stuff in the bag. This interview took place just about a hear ago.
This is a pretty comprehensive Adorable site with discography, another interview and press clippings from back in their heyday.