I got a Bearos Records e-mail list thingy earlier today, which pointed out that Bearos has quietly reached a decade of activity, I hadn’t realised, but it’s true - and it’s such a mindblowingly long period of time for anything musical to be going on.
I’ve always had a huge fondness for Bearos, which started when I first arrived in Birmingham and purchased a copy of We Brought our Friends and Shorebound by Epic45 on my first ever trip to Tempest in an effort to find out something that was happening locally. I couldn’t have picked a better Birmingham Music Instruction Manual.
I was a little late to watch some of the brilliant bands interviewed in We Brought our Friends - like Novak - but the label poured out a stream of excellent releases - and for me the guiding ethos behind it all wasn’t based on what genre a band was, or who they knew, or what they looked like - it was based on what was happening in Birmingham which was good and needed cataloguing permanently into the 7″ history books.
As a pop-kid through and though, the obvious band who I saw time and time again was The Regulars (arguably the only band in history who formed 7 years too late and were 7 years ahead of their time when they broke up) but there was more too. Jameson’s Somewhere Inside Forever was a lovely triple 7″ which features the sublime ‘Majik Band’, The Starries bounced around with that lovely intense mix of tunefulness and inventiveness, Baxxter’s ‘The Girls are Looking Good This Summer’ reminded me why I should listen to more spazzy-pop songs and stop being so twee all the time (I can’t find a link to Baxxter online so I’ll just have to send you here) and Ben Calvert’s ‘Leeds for the Winter’ recalling a snapshot of a time and a place from a singers life.
It was also the temporary home of bands like The Workhouse, and Saloon, who were everything that I loved about Stereolab, but with more magic. I still remember the Saloon Peel session where John Peel introduced ‘Girls are the New Boys’ with a story about being undertaken by a woman in a Merc. That song later found itself at pole position in a festive 50 in 2002.
In later years, Bearos has mainly kept releasing material by the artists who were around in the late 90s early 2000s - some have new projects, some of which sound incredibly different, some have gone solo. Although you could argue that this means it’s not as relevant a label to the new bands who have been forming and breaking up since Bearos started - this continuity is a wonderful thing to be treasured, especially in today’s here’s-an-album-oh-didn’t-like-it-well-here’s-the-next-big-thing-to-buy conveyor belt marketing strategy which is forced upon us. There’s a sense that you actually grow older with the musicians while they evolve.
I could tell you all kinds of amazing gigs that I went to to see Bearos bands, but I suspect they’ll come up in conversation during this blog anyway. They were formative years so it’s fairly unavoidable. I’m sure some of you have lovely Bearos memories of your own, and if ever there was a time to dig out the old releases or fill holes in your back catalogue, then this is it.