It’s “Heaven When You Smile”. It is. And I’m waiting for it. ‘Waiting for the sun to shine, waiting for you. Waiting for a rainbow, waiting for the rain, waiting for you’. I’m in heaven when you are by my side. ‘Waiting for my moon to rise’. ‘Waiting for the stars to sing’. The song plays and paralyzes me for a moment. ‘Waiting for the clouds to dance’. The lyrics, simple but evocative, set a mood immediately in my room. A sunny Sunday outside my bedroom, but inside, the rain seems to be pouring and the grey clouds start pushing the ceiling onto the ground.
Melancholy and nostalgia vs. happy-go-lucky. A discussion that springs up often when talking about indiepop. There seems to be two different schools, one that celebrates the first, and one that does the same for the second. The first one seems to be rooted in the days of C86 Britain, whereas the second, in the twee 90s of American indiepop. Which one I prefer? The first clearly, but I do enjoy the second when done correctly. But then, I know many people that can only do one or the other. And that’s when the discussion starts.
I’m transported back to those days in Spain, where I was in heaven. The train rides crossing uncivilized lands of emptiness. And empty trains as well. Tourist on Monday. Tourist on Tuesday. Weekdays. And then under the shadow of Segovia’s aqueduct, feeling the weight of past history over my shoulders, things started to make sense. The candy stores, which I avoid religiously, made her smile and giggle. For me, it was walking through medieval streets in Toledo, where every store display had swords for sale. And before everything, I waited. I waited hours, at Barajas airport until I got a tap on my shoulder. Everything was going to be good from then on.
I saw the record sitting on Uwe’s shelf. Grace Kelly’s photo printed in color on the sleeve. Grace Kelly over a black background. Angry Flowers on the top left corner and an evocative name for a song “Heaven When You Smile”. Uwe asked me if I know about this single. He says it’s rare now, but five years ago it wasn’t hard to find in record shops in Berlin. I have never seen this record ever. But I recognize the label, Exile Records. I have a Tumbling Hearts 7″ on this same record label. And it’s great. “There’s a TVPs cover on this 7-inch” – Uwe tells me. Sadly it’s the only copy he has left and he has already sold it on eBay, to a rich Japanese customer probably.
My Grace Kelly walking through fountains in Parque del Retiro, taking photographs in the royal gardens at La Granja de San Ildefonso. Circumnavigating Avila on top of their medieval walls, tracing the whole old town while we stopped to gaze the horizon from each tower that raised towards the sun. And climbing even higher on the tower at El Alcazar de Segovia, among photo-frenzy Japanese tourists. We kept getting closer to heaven.
Museums, cathedrals, churches, we went to them all. We went to Cervantes’ house and took pictures with two of my childhood heroes, Don Quijote and Sancho Panza. We were in awe at El Escorial. And later in Madrid we ended a week of smiles at the Popfest, ending brilliantly with The Close Lobsters, on a comeback that was nothing but glorious. And then I DJed. And we danced. I played Hormones in Abundance and Patrik danced to it. And TCR. God, if I will ever get the chance to play their songs for people to dance again. My favourite band for years.
And then it was tears in Barajas after a sleepless night. And now we end up again in the “waiting” situation. 2 months and counting for Wales. For a tap in my shoulder at Stansted airport. And then a train ride, one that I know well by now, to Nottingham. Then to Mansfield. Never been there, but my beloved Travelodge, with it’s picturesque Little Chef, is already fully booked. Every year it’s harder to go to Indietracks. It may as well be my last. I want to visit new countries, new places.
I play the next song on the record. The B side of this record is indeed a fabulous rendition of the Television Personalities classic “Painting By Numbers”. And the A side is a wonderful slice of pop. “Waiting for Heaven” has the growling of the Wedding Present, the romanticism of The Wild Swans and the urgency of Yeah Jazz. It rapidly became a favourite of mine. Since that day. With the chiming guitar all over the song, and the beautiful and simple solo that jangles and jangles. It’s a love letter, it’s a hymn to any who has ever fallen in love.
The Angry Flowers hailed from Göttingen, Germany, a university town in Lower Saxony. Across town, the river Leine river runs through, and it still fondly remembers the days when it was part of the Hanseatic League. The population in 2006 was 129,686. This release is from 1986, wonder how many people lived there then. Less than 100,000 for sure. The band was formed by John Rose on vocals, Matthew (whose real name is Matthias Hanich) on bass, Harry on guitar and Ralph on drums. I suppose they had German names and just for the occasion they had their names in English, as it’s the case of Matthias. The release was recorded in autumn ’86 at Beton/Kassel and it is dedicated to Miss Grace. Of course. Some other credits on the sleeve include cover design by Ted Baxter and the back cover photo by Alaska. The engineer was Roland Platz and the record was produced by the vocalist of the band, John Rose.
And that is all I’ve could find about this GREAT 7″ record. Did they have more songs? Whatever happened to them? It seems Matthias ended up studying in London, maybe he stayed there? And did they make music after? If you know the wheareabouts of the Angry Flowers please let us know!
Today I finally managed to buy a copy of the 7″. From Uwe. Of course.