Welcome to the latest edition of ‘Golden Vault’, where we delve into the annals of music to bring you a classic album. You’ll know some like the back of your hand and nothing of others. We hope to get you reacquainted with old friends and create new favourites. The album to be taken out of the Golden Vault for reappraisal this week is 'Snuff Said' by Snuff.
Do you remember your first crush? Even if you think you don’t, you do. It’s lying dormant somewhere in the recesses of your brain, cosy in some gelatinous crease along with redundant cartoons; the sound of the once-ubiquitous clack of spokey dokeys; halcyon thoughts of Dempsey’s Den and Rich Tea biscuits on wintry afternoons. Imagine then, being handed a home-taped cassette in another lifetime by a friend who decided you had to hear this band, and somewhere inside hearing a familiar melody. A synapse sparks into life. “Where do I know this from?”A few more listens, time to process while the tape rewinds. Mentally slow it down, now sweeten it up. And there it is…the songs suddenly converge along with the present and past.
Originally a 1967 hit for Tommy James and the Shondells , I Think We’re Alone Now was what Lester Bangs with caustic, characteristic prescience labelled “the bubblegum apotheosis.” Two decades later, American pop-crush Tiffany skipped all over 1987 with it before slipping quietly, but enduringly, into the subconscious of a generation of impressionable kids, or maybe just one. From that moment of realisation (I think there’s a word for that), Tiffany and a bunch of London punks became conflated in my mind and heart; then, now and forevermore. Or at least during the 1 minute 51 second version Snuff rattled out.
Snuff are good at shortening things. There’s the supposed origin of the band’s name, coming about from someone exclaiming "That's Enough" in a fit of exasperation…Snuff. The full title of their debut album is ‘Snuffsaidbutgorblimeyguvstonemeifhedidn'tthrowawobblerchachachachachachachachachachachayou'regoinghomeinacosmicambience’. Fuck it out, lads. There’s no pulling back on the quality and content, though, a raft of melodic punk rock that took up the baton from the finest exponents of the craft. Drummer, vocalist, co-founder and mainstay Duncan Redmond recounted the band’s early ethos in an interview with punktastic.com last year. “The Buzzcocks and The Undertones had just gone. It was a wall of noise. We stepped into it and just wanted to sing some melody over the fast-paced stuff that we’d heard, like Minor Threat and Bad Brains.”
Largely written by singer and guitarist Simon Wells and bassist Andy Crighton, ‘Snuff Said’ takes that hardcore tenet and wraps it up in killer riffs and rolls, with Redmond and Wells sharing vocals. It’s a fast-paced rout, for the most part, but the songwriters’ pop sensibilities are draped all over the punk constructs - the flying guitar lines and counter melodies, the lyrical content, the playful jolts in momentum, the choice of cover version. ‘Snuff Said’ was more than just your average three-chord meat’n’potatoes dish.
‘Flibbiddydibbiddydob’ followed in 1990, mainly covers and throwaway jingles, before the band parted ways in ’91 only to re-emerge in ’96 minus Wells and Crighton. A handful of records followed through the band’s various incarnations since then, if it could rightly be called Snuff anymore, but none came close to ‘Snuff Said’. Anyway, living with this record means I often get to thinking about London punks and Tiffany and I Think We’re Alone Now. Lena Lovich covered it in too, in 1978. It seems equally plausible that her version could have sparked the band’s interest, although given the timescale…no, it had to have been Tiffany.