Spitfire – Superbaby

Brighton, 1991.

I just arrived here obliquely after listening to the excellent Dirtbombs over on Collapse Board. I thought of that feeling – sweat, beer and exhaustion; dancing like nothing matters – and thought of this.

I told people I was friends with Steve Walker, which wasn’t strictly true: I’d say hello, and we’d exchange pleasantries, which is friendship when you’re 14 and starstruck. Sure, they were a local band who never really got anywhere, but they did get played on Radio One. I might have spoken to Matt and Nick maybe 20 or 30 times, but I don’t think I ever spoke to Jeff, who I had the crush on.

Nobody ever knew if Spitfire were joking or not. They had backstage “Chick Passes” printed up, which read

Access to all areas
for band relief
no time wasters
come and get us
rock and roll

I never saw one of those passes, or even knew they existed until years later. I very much doubt anyone ever took them up on the offer.

Spitfire weren’t new or original, but they had fire and energy. They were the timeless sound of being a teenager. They were the stink and the fear and the goofiness and excitement. They were testosterone made flesh, bragging to its mates and being giggled at by cleverer girls. They were unthreatening, safe rebellion: my mother met them and thought they were very nice. Most of all, they were riffs and hooks and simple melodies that linger in the memory for decades after hearing it just once. They were the sound we learned to stagedive to, and made us want to practice our instruments so that we could be them when we grew up.

That sensation, that palpitation-inducing surge of adrenaline that their raw guitar squeals induced? It’s a very rare song that can make me feel that way.

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