This year, Heavenly Recordings is thirty-one years old. It’s fair to say it doesn’t act it.
One might assume that a record company entering its fourth continuous decade might start to take things slower; easier listening, comfortable shoes, early nights. Heavenly, however, has never been your average record label.
Since it began, Heavenly has always gleefully pursued its own path, at its own speed. Back in 1990, its first handful of releases perfectly captured a Technicolour Balearic summer in Britain — but before pigeonholing could take hold, the label signed a frenzied four-piece punk band from the Welsh Valleys and a country group from Camden Town.
In the ensuing years, they variously started legendary club nights when things were quiet; absentmindedly kickstarted the folk revival that soundtracked so much of the following decade; told the story of reggae through the prism of punk club The Roxy; produced soundtrack albums for toys and books; took cinematic, brooding rock’n’roll music to the top of the charts; allowed an Australian psych band to release five albums in the space of a year; released records from New South Wales and old South Wales sung in Cornish, Welsh, Japanese and Spanish, and even gave their hairdresser a catalogue number.
For thirty years, Heavenly has believed that there’s rarely an idea spun out of an impassioned conversation that could be deemed too outlandish; that any impromptu session thrown in the label’s Soho offices will be as good a source of A&R as any boardroom meeting — or better, in fact — and that it’s never too early or too late in the day to stop everything and turn the music up to full.
This year will be no different. The beginning of decade four sees the most forward-thinking label in the country punch the accelerator and hit the open road.
There will be phenomenal new music from longtime Heavenly Heroes such as eclectic South Walian genius Boy Azooga, 24 hour party people Confidence Man, electro-art-rockers audiobooks, Halifax pop superheroes The Orielles, Dutch fuzzed-up rock quartet Pip Blom, Madrid’s favourite racket-makers The Parrots, Cardiff based musical polymath and multi-linguist Gwenno, the sound of the young North of England Working Men’s Club, Atlanta’s powerhouse rock’n’soul singer Mattiel, Welsh mercurial pop maverick H. Hawkline, and Bristol’s finest country pop musician Katy J Pearson. Both Halo Maud and Mark Lanegan are currently working on material for release in 2022.
In 2021, these artists will be joined by a bunch of likeminded new signings, including Raf Rundell — one half of the 2 Bears — who follows 2018’s south of the river musical travelogue Stop Lying with O.M. Days; Brazilian jazz trio Caixo Cubo, and Chicago-based psychedelic soul musician Dougie Stu. And, in a fitting tribute to one of Heavenly’s greatest supporters and most frequent collaborators, there will be two albums’ worth of Andrew Weatherall remixes from the past three decades, beginning with the first ever Heavenly single, The World According To Sly & Lovechild, and featuring mixes that have pretty much unavailable for years.
As well as a packed release schedule, there’s a regular insight into the wider world of Heavenly on the regular Heavenly Jukebox broadcasts by Daisy and Jeff (and occasionally Danny) on Soho Radio. And, should — when — circumstances change, they’ll be as many parties and gigs put on as Heavenly can cram in to make up for lost time. After all, it’s hardly like they’re going to start acting their age now, is it?
Words by Robin Turner, Forever Heavenly.
Robin is also the author of, ‘…Believe In Magic, Heavenly Recordings, The First 30 Years,’ published by White Rabbit Books.
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