Let me set the scene a little...
Back in that balmy summer of 1995, Shack's long 'lost' album Waterpistol had just snuck into the racks at Brighton's Virgin Megastore. This was where I found myself working at the time. Well, I say working but my only real responsibility was to turn up at eleven o'clock on a Sunday morning and clear enough space for Monday's huge raft of new releases. As I was particularly busy in not one but two bands at the time, six hours a week (minus fifteen minutes for a lunchbreak) was about as much time as I was prepared to devote to earning a 'proper' living.
Shack's album had arrived courtesy of Steffan Kassel and Frank Lähnemann at Marina Records of Hamburg, Germany and a short while later the luxurious In Bed With Marina compilation proudly sashayed into the Virgin Megastore. It was at this point that I began to fall for Marina. Everything from the classy modernist artwork through to the fearless mixing of disparate musical styles drew me in and made me want to find out more about this mysterious label. Still years away from the internet or my first mobile phone, this proved to be a trickier and more time consuming task than younger viewers might imagine. But what better way to introduce myself than through a demo tape of Fruit Machine, which was the band I was co-habiting with my then girlfriend Jennie Cruse. I sent the demo and patiently awaited a reply from Hamburg and in the meantime played In Bed With Marina throughout the summer of 1996.
Twenty-five years after it's original release (on CD only) Frank and Stefan have now thoughtfully re-issued the compilation on vinyl. Complete with additional tracks and gorgeous gatefold artwork (including a pop-art Marina poster to decorate your Noguchi coffee table) this record neatly celebrates everything great about the label which is still in action all these years later.
Key touchstones to this album would be the awesome talents of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, back then totally adrift from the music industry and still a couple of years away from his unexpected return to live shows. Factor in the sunshine vocal pop of sixties curio's Harpers Bizarre and a proliferation of underground Scottish indie bands throwing in cute covers or archive rarities and you've got yourself a heady mixture of melody and melancholy.
The juxtaposition of more well known acts such as Teenage Fanclub contributing one of their finest non-album tracks Some People Try To Fuck With You alongside the still jaw-dropping Paul Quinn & The Independent Group's Stupid Thing is manna from the heavens. In fact, Paul's track has gone on to become one of my favourite songs of all time and I have a plan to re-release the epic Will I Ever Be Inside Of You album (on vinyl) if Vinyl Revolution can somehow talk Postcard Records' Alan Horne into granting a licence for our Naked imprint. But I digress...
Further into this feast of treats there's the Edwyn Collins rarity Just Call Her Name and Shack's stellar Al's Vacation. I remember that when I first heard The Bathers I didn't know what to make of them. Fast-forward to 2021 and guess what? Yep, thanks to Marina's damned good taste The Bathers have become yet another of my fave bands and their She's Gone Forever track included here is one of the more bedazzling highlights on In Bed With...
You'll also find ex-Josef K and Orange Juice guitarist Malcolm Ross, indie stalwarts The Secret Goldfish and the inspired genius of Jim Beatty (ex Spirea X and Primal Scream) then in his Adventures In Stereo phase. With a dash of sixties kitsch, and a lot of pop smarts, In Bed With Marina is a sumptuous collection of classics waiting to happen.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's your time to jump into bed with Marina.
Oh yeah. One last thing in case you were wondering. I found out many years later that Frank and Stefan loved the Fruit Machine demo and proudly displayed its artwork on their office wall. Some consolation at least for the buggers not signing us!
Buy In Bed With Marina 2LP (or CD) album direct from Marina Records and put a spring in your step this summer.
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