C86, the NME Indie Compilation That Launched a Genre


In 1986, between the rise of The Smiths and The Stone Roses, NME released a compilation once referred to as “the most indie thing that ever existed.” Really? The most indie thing ever?! No way! Annoying anecdotes aside, C86 (Casette 1986) was a tape featuring British bands that would help to usher in the underground musical movement known as indie-pop, or what some call “twee-pop” (even though much of the music on the comp was tilted towards punk, no-wave and arguably, shoegaze…go figure).

Unlike it’s predecessor, C81, only a couple of the bands on C86 (Primal Scream, Wedding Present, Pastels) went on to make somewhat of a name for themselves beyond the British underground. But that, as I am sure you have already guessed, wasn’t the point. The daring quality of the music and the DIY spirit (it sounds like crap, so you know it’s made by real people!) was what mattered. The songs on the tape, which I recently found online, vary in style from punk to jangle-pop to off-kilter funk to slowcore. Through the years, bands that were inspired by the sounds featured on the original cassette, were labeled as “C86.”

So is it any good? Well, from the 22 song collection, I have pulled some highlights which you can download below. It’s a fun listen and definitely cool to hear where bands like The Stone Roses, Slowdive, Manic Street Preachers, and Arctic Monkeys came from…as well as some from the current crop of Lo-Fi bands. It’s also neat to see where Velocity Girl took their name…

The cassette isn’t for sale anywhere as far as I can tell, but I’m sure you can find it floating around online like I did. For more info, check out this article and this article. Also visit the modern day home of all things C86, Indie-MP3.

Primal Scream – Velocity Girl

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Soup Dragons – Pleasantly Surprised

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The Pstels – Breaking Lines

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Bogshed – Run to the Temple

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Shop Assistants – It’s Up To You

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Half Man Half Biscuit – I Hate Nerys Hughes (From The Heart)

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Stump – Buffalo

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