Someone once said that art repeats itself, that imitation is the highest form of flattery and what goes around comes around. As sure as day follows night, an era in musical history will be back in fashion. The 80s, in what seems to have been dissected into every single month of the decade, has been rehashed till the cows come home, reproduced and the offspring have left for Bovine University and come home themselves.
This year, or even more accurately, the past month, has seen the 1990s make a bid for the spotlight again. We’ve had the re-emergence of ex-Mansun genius Paul Draper, The Stone Roses have released a single four years after reuniting, Ocean Colour Scene are celebrating twenty years since their seminal album ‘Moseley Shoals’ was released with a Britpop fest featuring The Bluetones and Shed Seven, Super Furry Animals have new music out and the Oasis film ‘Supersonic’ is primed for the big screen.
Enter Bivouac. Having imploded in the midst of a major label album disappointment in 1996, post two successful and adored LPs on indie label Elemental, they’ve returned on brand new imprint Reckless Yes, the labour of love belonging to Louder Than War’s Sarah Lay and ex-Cable bassist Pete Darrington.
The sands of time have been kind to their legend and after comedian Stewart Lee quoted them in one of his column rants, the cogs of industry began to turn and calls were made, backs were scratched, scars compared and the uniting of minds, chords, drum licks and lyrical spits resulted in this, ‘Sweet Heart Deal’.
A wall of feedback and a scratch up the neck, a rapid fire punk drum breaks the white noise. The pace doesn’t let up for the whole 3.16 minutes as the years fall away like seconds from a melting clock. The lyrics have an underlying spitefulness, regret for what could have been instead of the disappointment for being chewed up and spat out by the industry that promised them the world. “I’d rather be writing love songs, sweet heart deal” suggests they wish they’d never put pen to paper with the major and instead stayed doing what they loved, but the promise of the big time was too alluring.
This is a solid gold live opener classic in the making. If the gods of rock ‘n’ roll allow an elongated second half of a career.
Hindsight is divine, but revenge is sweeter. Be better than before. Or be happy. Bivouac are back, on a beloved indie, freedom to be and do.