It’s funny how things go sometimes. Not long ago we finally got around to extolling the virtues of the magnificent Space Raiders. Both their albums still get very regular outings at MNFB Towers, and we’d been meaning to say nice things here about them for an age.
And then an email landed from Gary Space Raider. “Just fell across your very kind review,” it said. “I’m glad you liked the old stuff, thought I’d let you know we’re not dead.” Back back back then. Be still beating heart. They’ve set up their own label and “greenlights” is the first fruit. It’s been a while, seven years in fact, but as you’d expect, the wait has been worth every minute.
Do yourself a favour, BUY IT NOW.
I feel a ramble coming on, bear with me. Some music seems like it’s just yours, like the best-kept secret. Not probably what Space Raiders would want to hear seeing as I worked for both Melody Maker and NME. Their albums came everywhere with me and got a proper beating to anyone who’d listen. ‘Disko Doctor’ in particular soundtracked an entire summer, travelling with me from Ibiza to Reykjavik and half way across the States.
Live too they were corking. My favourite outing was probably one of the weirdest. There was a total solar eclipse in the UK in August 1999. It was the first one in mainland UK since 1927 and there wouldn’t be another one until 2090. Best viewed in the South-West, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to stand in a field and watch it get dark for a minute or two during the day.
Of course, the music industry saw it as some sort of cash cow opportunity and a raft of Eclipse festivals were hastily scheduled across the South-West. That summer tuned out to be the beginning of the end for The Maker, starting with a massive cost-cutting exercise. Our job involved a huge amount of travelling, which was usually paid for by the record labels. Festivals were a whole different ballgame. The title stumped up, travel, hotels, food, drink, the lot. Not cheap, but the lift in sales over the festival season more than paid for it all.
Thing was, The Maker was really on the slide. The festival season used to be quite straightforward. It began with Glastonbury in June and ended with Reading in August, with V and T in the middle. Simple. Then more and more festivals started appearing, which stretched the already limited budget. We could’ve really done without the Eclipse events. As I recall there were three main ones, and to save money on our coverage I had to use pool cars, no hotels, a common theme that summer.
As reviews editor I couldn’t ask my team to put with with that sort of nonsense, so I lead by example, more often than not hitting the road myself in an IPC Media Ford Escort. I covered serious miles that summer in a car. And slept in it on more than one occasion. The glamour eh?
As I recall, the Eclipse festival I covered was in Somerset, promoted by Harvey Goldsmith. The bill doesn’t immediately jump to mind, but I went was because a slew of Skint bands were there – Indian Ropeman, Lo-Fidelity Allstars and Space Raiders. The event was a total disaster, and calls to the Maker hacks at the other events confirmed the same story. Basically, the audience didn’t turn up, and as word spread bands began pulling out left right and centre.
Not the Skint boys though. Space Raiders played a blinder. The arseing around on stage was as magnificent as the tunes pouring off it. Light sabres, toy guns, all manner of weird and wonderful noise and light-making machines. Here was a band who understood how dull men making live dance music could be and did something about it. It was laughing out loud funny, and gob-smackingly brilliant. A rare treat.
Boy, are we glad they’re back.
- There’s only one place you need to be. The new website. Do the right thing, buy the new single while you’re there.