Talulah Gosh tonight. One of the pioneering bands of the Twee Movement (yes, there was one), they are performing their very first session at The BBC, for Janice Long’s Show, recorded July 30, 1986, just four months after the band got together.
The group made their live debut on 7 March 1986, and later the same year released a flexidisc on Sha La La flexilabel and two singles simultaneously on the Edinburgh-based label 53rd & 3rd, “Beatnik Boy” and “Steaming Train”. These singles, especially the former, were unashamedly cutesy, something also reflected in the names the group had adopted for themselves: leader Amelia was “Marigold”, while Elizabeth became “Pebbles”. Mathew Fletcher was rather less flatteringly nicknamed “Fat Mat”. Their appearance led to them being labelled as an “anorak indie” band.
For their third single, the group returned to a song they had first recorded in session for Janice Long’s show on Radio 1 in August 1986, “Talulah Gosh”. Elizabeth Price left toward the end of the year to form The Carousel with Razorcuts frontman Gregory Webster, and so the single, released on 30 May 1987, was the first to feature replacement Eithne Farry (vocals, tambourine). The single was less shambolic than their earlier offerings, and a video was made for it which was played on The Chart Show (then shown on Channel 4), giving the band some mainstream exposure. The single was produced (some critics suggested it was over-produced) by John Rivers, as was the follow-up “Bringing Up Baby”, a sophisticated pop song that reduced the band’s “shambling” element to the point where mainstream success seemed a possibility. Indeed, The Primitives would later take precisely this route to success – but Talulah Gosh never made the national charts. The ironically-titled debut (compilation) album Rock Legends: Volume 69 was released in October 1987, collecting tracks from the earlier singles and radio sessions.
January 1988 saw not only the release of “Bringing Up Baby” but also the broadcast of a second Radio 1 session, this time for DJ John Peel. What was to be Talulah Gosh’s last single, a punk thrash titled “Testcard Girl” (very loosely based on an old Heinz advertising jingle), was released in May. The group split later that year. A posthumous collection of BBC radio sessions was issued by Sarah Records in 1991, and a more comprehensive retrospective was released on K Records in 1996. A limited edition EP of demos, recorded in 1986, was issued for Record Store Day in 2011, at which point a new retrospective album was also announced, at that time to be called Grrrr. On 22 July 2013, Amelia Fletcher announced on her Facebook page that the album, now called Was It Just a Dream?, would be released in October 2013. It was launched along with a DJ set by Amelia Fletcher, Eithne Farry and Elizabeth Price at the London club Scared To Dance.
After the split, Peter joined The Razorcuts, while Amelia issued a one-off solo single, “Can you keep a secret?”. Amelia and Mathew Fletcher and Peter Momtchiloff regrouped as Heavenly in late 1989 with Talulah Gosh co-founder Rob Pursey also returning to the fold. Following the break-up of the Razorcuts, Chris and Eithne formed Saturn V with Gregory Webster.
All told, they released 7 singles and appeared on 4 compilation albums between their inception and breakup.
No need to play loud, but it’s okay if you want to hum along.