Back in the 80s, there was this rather alternative music magazine that was pretty widely available. Called Underground Magazine, it was predominantly monochrome, printed on rather cheap paper, and with a lot (and I mean, A LOT) of text. It was one of those mags that I would buy, and I'd only recognise the name of a couple of artists mentioned in the mag - I distinctly remember it having full-page ads for Homestead Records and I don't think I ever knowingly saw any of their records in the wild.
So yeah, it was a bit niche. But every now and then it would have a cover-mounted tape, and that would generally be when I would buy it, even though there was probably only 1 or 2 tracks that I was interested in. Which brings us to
Strum + Drum. A casette given away with a 1987 issue of the magazine. I can absolutely tell why I bought this - it has a new version of "Give My Love to Kevin" by The Wedding Present on it, and although it has a Housemartins track on it as well, I'd have already had that on the relevant LP. I honestly wouldn't have been able to tell you anything about any of the other tracks on it.
But, with the wisdom of being (much) older, I get to listen to it now with more senior ears, and it actually has lots to recommend it. Of course - we have the two tracks that I've already mentioned, but there's a track called Karen from the Go-Betweens which actually sounds scratchy enough that it might have been recorded from the vinyl. There's an Alex Chilton song that I've not heard previously and there's a track called Belle Vue from a band called Miaow!. I've never heard of them before, although they seem to have a track on the C86 compilation, their later singles came out on Factory, and their lead singer was Cath Caroll, immortalised by a song of the same name by Mark Robinson's Unrest, which was released on 4AD /Teenbeat.
I don't know enough about the band to know if this single is typical, but its an effortless assured piece of mid-80s indie, simple, charming, beguiling. I love it to bits, I wish I'd heard it before today. But I'm glad that I did hear it today.
(I just looked it up and the master tapes for the Go-Betweens single had been lost, so all re-releases of this track until 1999 were indeed made from the original vinyl release)