4AD 1997

Listen to 4AD 1997 on Spotify.

Listening to 4AD in 1997 is obviously listening to a label shutting down. There are no new artists, but instead there’s the first of many pilferings to come of one of 4AD’s most commercially successful bands of the 90s, Pixies.

And there’s a concerted effort to make Tanya Donelly’s solo career take off after disbanding Belly, but otherwise the label is spinning its wheels: I don’t think there’s any album they released this year that I’ve found myself listening to over the last 20 years. Not even the album by previously reliable act His Name Is Alive, or the Tarnation album, and I loved their first album.

So this is, once again, the worst year in 4AD history.


What happened? Four years earlier, it seemed like everything was coming up roses. 4AD had the triumphant week-long retrospective/showcase Thirteen Year Itch in London; The Breeders and Belly were topping college label charts in the US; they had a US office; they had a deal with Warners…

Oh right. They had a deal with Warners that meant that Warners would pony up huge bucks in advances for records that 4AD recorded. But that also meant that Warners could, in effect, stop 4AD from signing bands, and could also make 4AD drop “unprofitable” acts.

Spending had gotten out of hands during the Warner years, but 4AD just didn’t have any really popular acts any more, so something had to be done.

Label boss Ivo Watts-Russell had previosly dumped bands that he didn’t want to work with any more, but for the first time, he had to tell people like Heidi Berry, who he liked working with and who was making brilliant music, that she had to leave.

No wonder he wanted to get out of the business, which he would do for good in a couple of years.

I can’t remember whether there are any further things released by 4AD that are worth coming back for in this blog series. Isn’t that exciting?

We’ve got two more years to go, though, so I guess we’ll see.


Tarnation — There’s Someone

There’s Someone, I Didn’t Mean It*

Tarnation — You’ll Understand

Your Thoughts And Mine, You’ll Understand, The Sad Things Behind*, Land That Time Lost*

 BAD CD7002
Gus Gus — Believe

Believe, Oh, Cold Breath ’79 (Craze), Ghetto Belief

 BAD D CD7002
Gus Gus — Believe

Believe (16B Remix)*, Believe (LFO Remix)*, Believe, Believe (Biggomix)*, Believe (Premix)*

Michael Brook — Albino Alligator

Arrival, Doggie Dog, Slow Town, Preparation, Miscalculation, Aftermath, Tunnel, Albo Gator, The Promise, The City, The Kicker, Exit, Ill Wind (You’re Blowing Me No Good)

Tarnation — Mirador

An Awful Shade of Blue, Wait, A Place Where I Know, Is She Lonesome Now, Your Thoughts And Mine, Christine, Destiny, There’s Someone, Like a Ghost, Idly, Little Black Egg, You’ll Understand

 DAD CD7005
Gus Gus — Polydistortion

Oh (edit), Gun, Believe, Polyesterday, Barry, Cold Breath ’79, Why?, Remembrance, Is Jesus Your Pal?, Purple

 BAD CD7006
Scheer — Demon

Demon (Mike “Spike” Drake), Obsession, (Green Room) Sex Kitten

Tanya Donelly — Pretty Deep

Pretty Deep, Vanilla (Wally Gagel)*

 BAD 7007 CD
Tanya Donelly — Pretty Deep

Pretty Deep, Spaghetti, Morna

 BAD D CD7007
Tanya Donelly — Pretty Deep

Pretty Deep, These Days, Influenza

Tanya Donelly — Lovesongs for Underdogs

Pretty Deep, Bright Lights, Land Speed Song, Mysteries of the Unexplained, Lantern, Acrobat, Breath Around You, Bum, Clipped, Goat Girl, Manna, Swoon

 JAD 7009 CD
His Name Is Alive — Nice Day

Nice Day, Drive Around the Clock, Crashed Up on the Corner, Soul Resides in the Horse Barn, Whale You Ease My Mind, Oh Sinner Man

Pixies — Debaser

Debaser (demo), Number Thirteen Baby (demo)

 BAD CD7010
Pixies — Debaser

Debaser (remix), Bone Machine (VPRO), Gigantic (VPRO), Isla de Encanta (VPRO)

 BAD D CD7010
Pixies — Debaser

Debaser (live), Cactus (live), Nimrod’s Son (live), Holiday Song (live)

 DAD 7011 CD
Pixies — Death To The Pixies

Cecilia Ann, Planet of Sound, Tame, Here Comes your Man, Debaser, Dig for Fire, Wave of Mutilation, Caribou, The Holiday Song, Nimrod’s Son, U-Mass, Bone Machine, Gigantic (ep), Where is my Mind?, Velouria, Gouge Away, Monkey Gone to Heaven

 BAD CD7012
Tanya Donelly — The Bright Light

The Bright Light, Bury My Heart, How Can You Sleep

 BAD D CD7012
Tanya Donelly — The Bright Light

The Bright Light, Life on Sirius, Moon Over Boston

This post is part of the chronological look at all 4AD releases, year by year.

*) Missing from Spotify.

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