I was listening to the thoroughly marvellous ‘Blue and Green and Tangerine’ set by The Onlookers this week. The Modernists amongst you will have been way ahead of me on this of course, both in picking up on this Detour release and in revering the 1982 ‘You and I’ single. Expect a track from the legendary ‘lost’ Vic Coppersmith-Heaven produced album to be on the next Unpopular mix. It’ll be followed in close sequence by a cut from Whiteout.
Now I don’t know what you think of Whiteout. I heard they were big in Japan, but they certainly never seemed to get the respect they deserved in the UK. Perhaps they suffered from being both behind and ahead of the times. Marginally too late to benefit from the post-Madchester hysteria and a little too early for the white heat of the Britpop wheeze, they nevertheless left some sparkling Mod inflected Pop.
My memory is shaky at best, but I am sure that Whiteout first came to my attention through the Esurient / Saint Etienne axis. Certainly the ‘Next Big Thing’ 7” came out on the Angel Town label which was, I am sure, connected to the Saint Etienne gang in some way. It was certainly a splendid rush of Beat Noise, invested with a sound that resonated of teenage obsessions with Small Faces and The Creation fed through the lens of The Stone Roses. I loved it and love it still. And wasn’t there a special event planned in 1991 with World Of Twist, Saint Etienne, The Claim and Whiteout? As I say, my memory is shocking and all I have to help is a tiny advert clipped from Melody Maker. July 3rd at the Hammersmith Palais. Did that come off? I don’t remember anyone writing or talking about it. Except me, a decade ago, in this piece for Tangents.
I am more certain on the fact that Whiteout seemed to slip from view for a couple of years after that. All I heard was a tape of demos that Kevin sent me in 1993, dubbed over a promo cassette of Cornershop’s ‘Lock, Stock and Double Barrel’ EP. The Whiteout demos were on one side, some wonderful Espiritu tracks on the other. Great stuff.
When those demoed tracks started appearing a year later on vinyl and CD they still sounded great. Nothing wrong with a bit of polish. They were on the Silvertone label who had famously given us those Stone Roses records of course, and I am sure that Whiteout were being placed as some kind of Second Coming. They weren’t, but that was more than fine. Certainly songs like ‘Jackie’s Racing’ were more Rod than Ian, whilst tunes like ‘Altogether’ and ‘Detroit’ were most assuredly less dreary than the Ocean Colour dullards who sadly seemed to steal the scene.
The ‘Bite It’ set still sounds great to my ears, as do parts of the 1998 ‘Big Wow’ set which I admit passed me by at the time. It’s that first single and those demos to which I return most regularly though: the sounds abd times of such promise and wonder. In more ways than one.
The Angel Town label single seems to be difficult to find, so I have recorded the two tracks direct from my vinyl copy for download here.
You can grab a zip of the 1993 demos here.