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… because when you were nineteen, didn’t YOU ever want to create something beautiful and pure just so one day you could set it on fire and then watch the city light up as it burned?
[From A Day For Destroying Things, Sarah Records’ final NME and Melody Maker advert, 28 August 1995]
Sarah Records, the independent record label I ran with Clare Wadd, was created in a basement in Bristol in November 1987 in order to release 100 perfect pop singles and bring about worldwide socialist and feminist revolution. By August 1995, when the label threw a party on a boat in the city’s Floating Harbour to celebrate the release of SARAH 100 and announce that it no longer existed (and didn’t do encores), at least one of these things had been achieved. Sarah’s eight years were the years when CDs took over and vinyl died, when majors set up fake indies and indie became a genre not an ideology. They were the years before mobile phones, home computers and the internet; the years of call boxes, paste-ups and fanzines sent through the post. They were the years of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, of Clause 28 and the Poll Tax; the years when Lad Culture took hold. And the years when a label that had marked its fifth anniversary by taking out adverts calling for socialist and feminist revolution and denouncing the hypocrisy of most so-called political bands could, apparently, be dismissed as girly and twee by the misogynist bullies who ruled the music press back then. In 2015, a new generation of NME journalists voted Sarah the second-greatest indie label of all time. Maybe they were feeling a bit guilty. You can find out more at the Sarah Records website, and listen to the music, should you wish, via Spotify et al. For a quick sense of what it was all about, try There And Back Again Lane, our label retrospective. And what has this got to do with books about London’s more unglamorous districts? Absolutely nothing, but here’s a song about Gunnersbury Park, originally released as SARAH 58.