Label: Cat and Mouse
Year of Release: 1987
Back in the late eighties, I was sat in my bedroom listening to Jim Jiminee's album "Welcome To Hawaii" far too damn loudly. As any teenage fool knows, this approach generally tends to provoke anger in one's parents, and a bang on the door followed by "What ARE you listening to? Turn it down or OFF!" On this occasion, however, something changed. "What ARE you listening to?" my Mum began. "I mean, it sounds like the sort of thing your Dad and I would have listened to in the sixties..."
Ouch. As a teen, I hadn't immersed myself in the world of uptempo sixties rock and pop yet, and didn't know how to take this. But to her credit, my Mum knew what she was talking about. Jim Jiminee were frequently classified in the British music press as being part of an indie/ twee pop scene, but the frantic, buzzing, brassy urgency of their three minute songs really owed a debt to the British sixties acts in Soho basement bars. While you can trace doley eighties indie angst in Jim Jiminee's output, and an obvious debt to Madness, somewhere in those sweaty grooves - and God, "Welcome to Hawaii" sounded as if it was recorded in a sweaty club, feeling like an electric live album rather than a polished studio work - was also the presence of people like Georgie Fame and even skiffle groups. And though my knowledge of these things was limited as a teenage boy, I was dimly aware of the validity of my Mum's comparison and released I had no defence. Did Jim Jiminee partly cause me to delve further back into the musical past? Partly, I think, though others also pushed me in that direction (The Wonder Stuff being fairly inaccurately compared to Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd by Julianne Regan in Record Mirror also sent me in the direction of the budget "Relics" LP, though in fairness Julianne only said this in retaliation for Miles Hunt saying that All About Eve were essentially just Fleetwood Mac. This makes me possibly the only person to have got into Syd Barrett via Grebo).
I digress somewhat. So here is the first Jim Jiminee record I was aware of, thanks to its appearance on "The Chart Show" on Channel 4 in Autumn 1987. "Do It On Thursday", an uptempo ode to the wait for one's unemployment cheque, is typically driving, antsy, and deceptively elaborate. In those days, many indie bands had a scratchy urgency about their work, but the blistering guitar solo and the careful keyboard frills that litter this single really wouldn't have been at home on a Wedding Present or Soup Dragons 45. The band also dressed in sharp suits and not hand-me-down Oxfam clothes or paisley shirts. They were both of their time and slightly behind their time as well.
Maybe that's why they didn't do as well as they should. Critics were quick to praise their frantic live shows, but ultimately "Do It On Thursday' - or the absolutely full-throttle should-have-been-huge "Town and Country Blues" - wouldn't have sounded at home on late eighties daytime Radio One, and as we've seen time and time again, it's not necessarily about the quality of your work but also how well it fits the music scene around you.
After the failure of the LP, the band - consisting of Kevin Jamieson, Pete Dyes, Delphi Newman, Nick Hannan and Lindsay Jamieson - seemed to fizzle out. As an odd footnote, backing vocalist Delphi won a Record Mirror search for a star competition a couple of years later and was placed on their front cover and feted as a future hitmaker, but beyond an appearance on an EP they gave away for free with that copy, nothing else seemed to happen for her. There is nothing on the Internet about how this not insignificant media push didn't even produce so much as a record label signing for Delphi, never mind a hit, but she later formed the group World Without Tigers in 1998.
The irrepressible Kevin Jamieson always seemed to be the main force of nature in Jim Jiminee in any case, and he later went on to form Deep Season with Nick and Lindsay - a band the Internet also seems to know very little about.
It's oft stated that Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays was also a serving member for a period. This is not, strictly speaking, the case; rather, she was in an earlier line-up of the group called Cruel Shoes. The idea of her contributing to something so energetic and uptempo is absurd enough for people to want to cling on to, I suspect.
But really, it's more than good enough that Jim Jiminee had some truly wonderful moments in their catalogue without them having any minor indie star connections. Buy a copy of "Welcome to Hawaii" now - sinfully, they're not even that collectible, so you won't have to fork out much or search that hard - and dance around your living room like a maniac to its contents. There are fewer finer ways to while away a weekend evening.