Talulah Gosh

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December 12, 1986

Dear Calvin,

My last few days in London were the best. Inger came down from Manchester with a band called the Waltones. They played with two bands from London, The Shamen (psychedelic wheedling) and Talulah Gosh, a groovy, groovy, groovy, 2 girl/3 boy sing-along kind of group. Lots of ba-ba-bas and “I love you, do you love me?” lyrics.

If it wasn’t for one of the girl’s “I’m too cool to live”-ness, they would be beyond great because the other girl is so perfect — like, her socks fall down. Anyway, it was a swell show… Heavenly.

Love Lois

Their eyes met across a crowded room. It was love at first sight. Each girl, after all, was wearing the UNIVERSAL TOKEN OF INDIE CITIZENSHIP: a Pastels badge. A sign from God! They would form the coolest band in the universe. A 60s girl group with punk rock tunes… TALULAH GOSH. Elizabeth Price: an artist from Luton. Amelia Fletcher: an Oxford economist. Too lazy to search for all-girl musicians, they settled for: Mathew Fletcher: Amelia’s fat younger brother, then just 15. Peter Momtchiloff: her specky, record-selling boyfriend. Rob Pursey: who left the band after the first three chaotic shows. Chris Scott: a man of leisure.

It was late 1985. The Jesus and Mary Chain had released Upside Down. Buba and the Shop Assistants had played their first shows outside Scotland, the Television Personalities had reformed for the seventeenth time, and across the country countless fanzine writers were crawling out from under stones. Talulah Gosh’s debut show (supporting the Razorcuts in Oxford in March 1986) was attended by many future INDIE LEGENDS (well if you count Everett True, Jon Huggy, Martin Subway and Matt Haynes from Sarah records, anyway). Shortly afterwards, they made their first recording, I Told You So, released as a flexi (split with the Razorcuts) on Matt’s Sha-La-La label, and then did a session for BBC Radio 1’s Janice Long show.

Even before recording their first single, they’d had a full-page feature in the NME (QUOTE: ‘You can’t help people thinking “Ooh… Talulah Gosh are dreamy”. I do that when I see boys on stage, but it’s not the same as thinking “oh, we would like to lick their bodies!”’ — Amelia). Then, after various dubious offers, they signed to the Edinburgh label 53rd & 3rd, at that time home to Beat Happening, the Vaselines, and the BMX Bandits, recording their first single (the first four tracks on this LP) over a weekend trip to Scotland in the summer of ’86.

Fortunately, these recordings hardly capture the ramshackle live sound of a Talulah Gosh gig. The music papers called it SHAMBLING. Guitars broke, cymbals fell over, audiences had to wait uncomfortably as the band tried to repair their equipment before launching into the next song, which they would start too fast, stop, start again, before forgetting it had a middle eight and collapsing in an out-of-time-and-tune mess somewhere around the third chorus.

For some reason, Elizabeth hated all this. She didn’t like being thought CHILDISH and INCOMPETENT, and she left the band in late 1986, though not before agreeing to record one last song, My Boy Says, for a Shelter compilation LP. She was replaced in the new year by Eithne Farry, a punk girl from Battersea, and during the next 12 months the NEW-LOOK Talulah Gosh recorded most of the remainder of the tracks preserved here: the Double Live Gonzo 69 EP, the Where’s the Cougar, Matey? EP, the Testcard Girl 7”, and the radio session for John Peel. Also included here, for the first time, are the only two songs which Talulah Gosh failed to record before they split: Pastels Badge and Rubber Ball (both live).

Talulah Gosh announced their break-up in early 1988, citing — no duh! — musical differences. In an interview at the time, Amelia explained how Mathew wanted the band to sound like hard-core punkers the Stupids, Peter wanted to be like the Stooges, Chris wanted to go into avant-garde noise, and Eithne into hip-hop. Amelia herself favoured disco. With such unity of purpose, it is really no wonder that Talulah Gosh split up, playing their last show at the London School of Economics on the 5th of February 1988.

Their like shall not be seen again. All that remains of them now is their BACKWASH.

January 21, 1996

Dear Amelia,

I am listening to Beatnik Boy for the first time in about a year. The rush of energy and the chills that I got the first time that I heard Talulah Gosh still bolt through my body. There are so few bands and so few songs that can perpetuate excitement eternally. For me Talulah Gosh are the big shebang. The first song that I had ever heard was Beatnik Boy. Like so many people when it comes to being introduced to a great band, or great song I have Calvin to thank for this. He has Lois to thank. We all have Talulah Gosh to thank.

I love that there existed a band that was my Beatles. The tragedy of never having witnessed a Talulah Gosh performance is my Altamont. But legends are so much better than truth. This way we never know what actually happened. We can claim that we were there, we can claim that Talulah Gosh played half a set before breaking up into a brawling mass of fighting flesh and who’s to say we aren’t right. Members of Talulah Gosh would be the first to fabricate their own story. And each member would have a contrary interpretation of each gig and each song. Don’t even imagine that I could list a favorite Talulah Gosh song. My Talulah Gosh records are amongst my prized possessions. They are timeless pieces of pop perfection.

Love Candice