When people talk about great Scottish independent labels they tend to forget Electric Honey, run initially from Glasgow’s Stow College and now, after a merger between Stow, John Wheatley and North Glasgow College in 2013, what has been renamed Glasgow Kelvin College.
I’ve never been fully convinced by arguments for musicians and people wanting to break into the music industry needing to study their chosen subjects at any further education establishment.
Tony Wilson didn’t spend years taking advice from tutors on how to run a record label and neither did Bob Last, Alan Horne or Alan McGee. Likewise, you could say that The Beatles studied in the Star Club in Hamburg and the Cavern in Liverpool, The Ramones at CBGB, while Morrissey worked out his vision while unemployed and living in a Whalley Range bedsit.
Obviously though, a high percentage of the Music Business Administration students helping to run Stow/Kelvin’s in-house label over the years must have been doing something right – or I wouldn’t be writing about it, would I? – and they have been aided in that time by some inspired choices of lecturers to help them out, including former Associate Alan Rankine, who left his post there in 2010, Ken McCluskey of The Bluebells, who has been part of Glasgow’s thriving music scene since the days of Postcard and Douglas MacIntyre, the man who founded one of Scotland’s finest ever independents, Creeping Bent – a label I’ll be including in this series at soon point in the near future.
Over the last twenty or so years, Electric Honey really has achieved a highly impressive strike rate in releasing and promoting new acts such as Belle and Sebastian, Snow Patrol and Biffy Clyro, which has led to Uncut magazine declaring it: ’The most successful student-run label in the world’.
Of course, not all the acts they’ve released have gone on to headline the Hydro, sell over ten millions of records worldwide or headline a major festival like Reading. The Moondials, who I featured here a few weeks back, split up not too long after the label put out an EP by them with four almost equally strong tracks: Can You See?, Take Me Away, The Only One and Faker.
They certainly had a shedload of great songs and, helped by busking and playing guerrilla gigs across Europe, they sharpened up their sound and were always fantastic live whenever I would see them at venues like the Halt and King Tut’s in Glasgow. The Moondials also received a lot support from Radio Scotland, local magazines like The List and they appeared on STV’s afternoon pop show of the time called Chart Bite.
So why did The Moondials not go onto bigger things?
Maybe one reason was that in the era of Britpop, union jacks and Cool Britannia, the band embraced a country/blues sound influenced mainly by American acts from Arlo Guthrie through to The Monkees, The Byrds and Love.
See what you think, produced by Alan Rankine, this is the Electric Honey release of 1995, Can You See?:
The seventh annual Electric Honey Showcase will take place this year at Glasgow’s Oran Mor as part of the West End Festival on 26 June. On the bill are Harry and the Hendersons, Schnarff Schnarff, Finn Lemarinel and Apache Sun.
Tickets, which only cost £5, will be available on the door and I will try to make it along myself as I would especially like to see Apache Sun live, after becoming a fan of theirs the moment I first heard the twangy guitar fusing with the glitterbeat intro on The Rain That Never Came:
For more on Electric Honey, click here.
For more on The Moondials, click here.
And for more on Apache Sun, here’s yer link.