Skip to content

12 Reasons to Get Happy About 127-Song ’80s Indie-Pop Box Set ‘Scared to Get Happy’

Cherry Red, Scared to Get Happy, Indie Pop

One of the most understated of genres is about to get a massive box set all its own. As Slicing Up Eyeballs points out, Cherry Red Records has revealed the track list for its upcoming box set Scared to Get Happy: A Story of Indie-Pop 1980-1989. The U.K. label reportedly drew inspiration from Lenny Kaye’s landmark Nuggets garage-rock compilations, except tailored to a genre that, it must be said, isn’t merely the same as “pop” that is “indie.”

At a sprawling 127 songs spread out over five discs, the set promises an embarrassment of riches for anyone inclined to understand that “twee” can be a badge of honor, not just a dismissive insult. It may, however, require some measure of riches to obtain it: Scared to Get Happy, penciled in for a mid-June release, will come with a 72-page booklet and sell for about £50 (roughly $80). The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, the Stone Roses, Pulp, the Vaselines, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, the Pastels, Talulah Gosh, the Close Lobsters, Aztec Camera, the Mighty Lemon Drops, and many more are included on the track list.

The label notes that there are “still a few tracks we want,” so the box set could add a few new indie-pop chestnuts. And as much as we love a lot of this music, we might quibble with the set being “devoted to the ’80s indie guitar-pop revolution which swept across the British Isles” — if only because to the unfamiliar it might sound similar to the routine, wrong-headed “guitar music is back” hype spewed by pop-phobes. (By 1989, one of the most endearing bands to emerge from all of this, the Field Mice, had already started drifting into the electronic elements of debut album Snowball, a tradition of dance-oriented indie-pop that’s been carried on from veterans Saint Etienne through relative newcomer Kisses.)

But those are just the obsequious hyper-criticisms of a committed fan. Can’t you tell we’re scared to get happy, too? With all that out of the way, the full track list is below, but first, 12 reasons to get happy about Scared to Get Happy:

1. Primal Scream – “Velocity Girl”: The compilation’s organizers have said they’ve avoided overlap with previous indie-pop compilations, such as CD86 and Rough Trade’s Indiepop 1. But this pre-rave Primal Scream cut is an exception, and with good reason. Also don’t miss the Tough Alliance’s “Velocity Boy” electro-pop cover.

2. The Vaselines – “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam”: Yeah, yeah, Nirvana covered this biting take on an old Christian hymn on MTV Unplugged in New York, with a title change the track list below actually reflects. Original’s still great, though.

3. The Stone Roses – “The Hardest Thing in the World”: Sure, when Coachella-going friends ask, “Who are the Stone Roses,” you could direct them to canonical tracks “I Wanna Be Adored” and “She Bangs the Drums.” Or you could send them this winsome non-album track.

4. Pulp – “Everybody’s Problem”: Part of what’s great about Jarvis Cocker’s eventual rise to public acclaim is that it took him so long to get there. Here he is bopping around in 1983 (!!!), decidedly in need of James Murphy as a producer.

5. Another Sunny Day – “I’m in Love With a Girl Who Doesn’t Know I Exist”: Standout band from celebrated indie-pop label Sarah Records’ stable, whose “Anorak City” and “You Should All Be Murdered” are also well worth your time, wax wistful on a jangle-pop classic that’s two words away from being Manti Te’o’s theme song.

6. Josef K – “The Missionary”: Baritone-bolstered Scots were best known for their work on another iconic indie-pop label, Postcard, but this scratchy, disco-infused A-side comes from their Belgium-only Farewell Single.

7. Talulah Gosh – “Beatnik Boy”: A defining song from one of twee pop’s defining bands.

8. Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – “Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?” (indie version): Any song capable of inspiring Camera Obscura’s “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken” is worth your time, and surely no less so in its rough-hewn original form: Feel guilty about your cynicism.

9. Marine Girls – “Don’t Come Back”: Tracey Thorn’s pre-Everything but the Girl group was throwing a heartbroken beach party when Best Coast was just a glimmer in the Pacific Ocean’s eye.

10. The Jazz Butcher – “Southern Mark Smith”: If the Fall couldn’t be on here — not indie pop enough, we suppose, or else unclearable? — then why not this jangler from cult classic A Scandal in Bohemia. As an aside, remember in 2005 when everybody was trying to find sonic comparisons for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!? They sounded like this.

11. The Primitives – “Thru the Flowers”: The blueprint for so much scuzzy ’00s and ’10s lo-fi pop is right here.

12. The Pooh Sticks – “Indiepop Ain’t Noise Pollution”: Including this instead of any number of equally qualified contenders for two reasons. First, it’s true. Second, it would’ve been too easy to mention the compilation’s demo version of Jesus & Mary Chain’s immortal “Just Like Honey.” You’re welcome.

Scared To Get Happy: A Story of Indie-Pop 1980-1989 track list: 

CD 1
1. The Wild Swans – “Revolutionary Spirit”
2. Girls At Our Best – “Getting Nowhere Fast”
3. The Pale Fountains – “(There’s Always) Something on My Mind”
4. Josef K – “The Missionary”
5. The Monochrome Set – “Jet Set Junta”
6. The Blue Orchids – “Dumb Magician”
7. The Marine Girls – “Don’t Come Back”
8. The Fire Engines – “Candy Skin”
9. Dolly Mixture – “Everything and More”
10. Scars – “All About You”
11. The Nightingales – “Paraffin Brain”
12. Farmers Boys – “I Think I Need Help”
13. Jane – “It’s a Fine Day”
14. Prefab Sprout – “Lions in My Own Garden (Exit Someone)”
15. Weekend – “Summerdays”
16. The Lines – “Nerve Pylon”
17. Fantastic Something – “If She Doesn’t Smile it’ll Rain”
18. The Higsons – “The Lost and the Lonely”
19. Everything But The Girl – “Feeling Dizzy”
20. Black – “Human Features”
21. Strawberry Switchblade – “Trees and Flowers”
22. The Daintees – “Roll on Summertime”
23. Nick Nicely – “49 Cigars”
24. Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike – “Norman and Narcissus”
25. The Cherry Boys – “Kardomah Café”
26. Aztec Camera – “Oblivious”

CD 2
1. Hurrah – “The Sun Shines Here”
2. The Pastels – “I Wonder Why”
3. Pulp – “Everybody’s Problem”
4. Grab Grab the Haddock – “I’m Used Now”
5. Friends Again – “Honey at the Core” (Moonboot Version)
6. The Bluebells – “Callander Green”
7. Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – “Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken” (Indie Version)
8. In Embrace – “This Brilliant Evening”
9. Microdisney – “Dolly”
10. The Woodentops – “Plenty”
11. The Jazz Butcher – “Southern Mark Smith”
12. The Jasmine Minks – “Where the Traffic Goes”
13. The June Brides – “Every Conversation” (Single Version)
14. The Revolving Paint Dream – “In the Afternoon”
15. The Shop Assistants – “All Day Long”
16. Biff Bang Pow! – “The Chocolate Elephant Man”
17. James – “Hymn From a Village”
18. The Jesus and Mary Chain – “Just Like Honey” (Demo Oct ’84)
19. The Loft – “Up the Hill and Down the Slope”
20. That Petrol Emotion – “Keen”
21. Yeah Yeah Noh – “Temple of Convenience”
22. The Wedding Present – “Go Out and Get ‘Em Boy”
23. The Bodines – “God Bless”
24. We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It – “Xx Sex” (Demo)
25. Mccarthy – “Red Sleeping Beauty”
26. The Mighty Lemon Drops – “Something Happens”

CD 3
1. Primal Scream – “Velocity Girl”
2. The Primitives – “Thru the Flowers”
3. The BMX Bandits – “Sad”
4. Mighty Mighty – “Is There Anyone Out There?”
5. The Soup Dragons – “Fair’s Fair”
6. The Wolfhounds – “Cut the Cake”
7. The Chesterfields – “Completely and Utterly”
8. The Servants – “Transparent”
9. The Close Lobsters – “What Is There to Smile About” (Demo)
10. Pop Will Eat Itself – “Sick Little Girl”
11. The Razorcuts – “Big Pink Cake”
12. The Weather Prophets – “Almost Prayed”
13. Jamie Wednesday – “Vote for Love”
14. Talulah Gosh – “Beatnik Boy”
15. The Dentists – “She Dazzled Me With Basil”
16. The Railway Children – “A Gentle Sound”
17. The Groove Farm – “Baby Blue Marine”
18. Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes – “The Rain Fell Down”
19. Rosemary’s Children – “(Whatever Happened To) Alice?”
20. The Wonder Stuff – “A Wonderful Day”
21. This Poison! – “Engine Failure”
22. The Brilliant Corners – “Delilah Sands”
23. 14 Iced Bears – “Balloon Song”
24. The Heart Throbs “Toy”
25. The Rosehips – “Room in Your Heart”
26. King Of Luxembourg – “A Picture of Dorian Gray”

CD 4
1. The House of Love – “Shine on”
2. The Darling Buds – “Shame on You” (Native Single Version)
3. The Pooh Sticks – “Indiepop Ain’t Noise Pollution”
4. The Bachelor Pad – “The Albums of Jack”
5. The Shamen – “Something About You”
6. Gol Gappas – “Albert Parker”
7. Hangman’s Beautiful Daughters – “Love Is Blue”
8. Whirl – “Heaven Forbid”
9. The Boy – “Hairdressers Tidalwave”
10. The Flatmates – “Shimmer”
11. Apple Boutique – “Love Resistance”
12. Laugh – “Take Your Time Yeah!”
13. Groovy Little Numbers – “You Make My Head Explode”
14. The Waltones – “She Looks Right Through Me”
15. Yeah Jazz – “Sharon”
16. The Clouds – “Tranquil”
17. The Raw Herbs – “She’s a Nurse but She’s Alright”
18. The Siddeleys – “My Favourite Wet Wednesday Afternoon”
19. Rodney Allen – “Circle Line”
20. The Corn Dollies – “Be Small Again”
21. The Hepburns – “The World Is”
22. Bubblegum Splash – “One of Those Things”
23. The McTells – “Jesse Man Rae”
24. The Charlottes – “Are You Happy Now?”
25. Another Sunny Day – “I’m in Love With a Girl Who Doesn’t Know I Exist”
26. The La’s – “Son of a Gun” (Demo)

CD 5
1. The Stone Roses – “The Hardest Thing in the World”
2. The Inspiral Carpets – “Keep the Circle Around”
3. The Sea Urchins – “Solace”
4. Cud – “Only (A Prawn in Whitby)”
5. The Popguns – “Landslide”
6. East Village – “Strawberry Window”
7. The Fanatics – “Suburban Love Songs”
8. The Milltown Brothers – “Roses”
9. The Orchids – “I’ve Got a Habit”
10. Bradford – “Skin Storm”
11. The Claim – “Picking Up The Bitter Little Pieces”
12. The Poppyheads – “Pictures You Weave”
13. The Sun and the Moon – “Adam’s Song (Pour Fenella)”
14. The Desert Wolves – “Speak to Me Rochelle”
15. The Golden Dawn – “My Secret World”
16. Blow Up – “Forever Holiday”
17. Korova Milk Bar – “Do it Again”
18. Avo-8 – “Big Car”
19. The Rain – “Dry the Rain”
20. The Boo Radleys – “Catweazle”
21. The Seers – “Sun Is in the Sky”
22. The Telescopes – “Perfect Needle”
23. The Vaselines – “Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam”