Cherry Red Records (label)
09 June 2014 (released)
26 May 2014
Many modern indie music fans would look at you blankly if you used the word cassette - but for a generation of NME readers, C86 is a legendary compilation. The 22-track cassette was first issued in 1986, and inspired by the NME’s C81 tape from five years earlier. C86 eventually became the NME’s best-selling ever compilation, shifting an estimated 40,000 copies. It was eventually reissued on LP and cassette by Rough Trade the following year and led to a series of gigs in London.
So why did it capture the imagination and how does it stand up 28 years later?
Back in 1986 compilations were a rarer beast, with the Now albums still a new idea and the NME collection allowed access to many bands that you would only be able to hear on John Peel. Here Primal Scream, the Wedding Present, the Mighty Lemon Drops - were placed alongside obscure artists like Peel favourite Half Man Half Biscuit (with their I Hate Nerys Hughes), Close Lobsters, The Servants and Big Flame.
This deluxe expanded edition adds 50 bonus tracks, some never released on CD before and a few never released at all. The box set is curated by original compiler Neil Taylor - and there is plenty for fans of the era and those jangly 80s guitars, to enjoy. Among those tracks on the original 22 track compilation that still intrigue is The Bodines Therese, while there's a whirly early appearance of We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It with Console Me.
Other highlights include underrated eighties band The Railway Children with Darkness And Colour and Jesus And The Mary Chain's dark and moody Inside Me. There also tracks from Happy Mondays, Pop Will Eat Itself and Blue Aeroplanes, underlining the quality of bands that the NME was tracking, but there are many songs here that do not stand the test of time. Instead, these 72 tracks are a great snapshot of the time, albeit the kind of music NME wanted top dominate. In a few years some of the bands were household names but most disappeared beyond trace. This compilation highlights why.