The Shop Assistants
|Years active||1984–1987, 1989-1990|
|Labels||The Subway Organization
|Associated acts||The Pastels, The Motorcycle Boy, The Vaselines, Jesse Garon And The Desperadoes|
|Past members||Annabel Wright
Shop Assistants were an indie pop band from Edinburgh, Scotland, formed in 1984, initially as Buba & The Shop Assistants. After achieving success with independent releases they signed to Chrysalis Records sublabel Blue Guitar, releasing their only album in 1986. After splitting in 1987, with singer Alex Taylor moving on to The Motorcycle Boy, they reformed for two further singles in 1990.
The original line-up was Aggi (Annabel Wright, later of The Pastels), on vocals, David Keegan (guitar), Sarah Kneale (bass), Laura MacPhail (drums) and Ann Donald (drums). This line-up released one single, the now highly-collectible "Something to Do" which was produced by Stephen Pastel. Stephen Pastel also contributed backing vocals.
Aggi left to be replaced by Alex Taylor. Soon after, the name shortened to simply 'Shop Assistants' and the first release under their new name was the Shopping Parade EP in 1985 on The Subway Organization, the lead track from which, "All Day Long" was described by Morrissey as his favourite single of that year. Ann Donald left round about November 1985 and was briefly replaced by Joan Bride (possibly a pseudonym!). Shopping Parade was followed in early 1986 with "Safety Net", the first release on Keegan's 53rd & 3rd Records, which peaked at number two in the UK Independent Chart, and the band recorded a national radio session with Janice Long and a second John Peel session, both of BBC's Radio One. The exposure they gained from the sessions enabled the group to have two songs to be voted into John Peel's Festive Fifty in both 1985 and 1986.
In 1986, they were featured on the NME's compilation C86 with one of their slower songs, "It's Up To You", taken from Shopping Parade EP. Also in that year, they signed to Chrysalis Records's sublabel Blue Guitar for another single, "I Don't Wanna Be Friends With You" as well as their first and only LP album, Will Anything Happen. This spent one week at number 100 in the UK album charts, which gives the band the distinction of being the (joint) least successful act ever to hit the national charts. The album was re-released on CD in 2001, although it is now very hard to find.
The band split early in 1987, when Taylor left the group to join The Motorcycle Boy. After a two-year hiatus, the band reformed without Taylor in 1989 with Kneale on vocals and MacPhail on bass and the addition of Margarita Vasquez-Ponte of Jesse Garon And The Desperadoes on drums. With the new lineup they released "Here It Comes" and "Big 'E' Power" in 1990 before splitting again with David Keegan joining The Pastels.
- Will Anything Happen (Nov 1986, Blue Guitar, AZLP2 [LP]/ZAZLP2 [C]), No. 100 LP chart - reissued on CD, 2001.
- "Something to Do" (Nov 1984, Villa 21, 002 [7"]) - as Buba & The Shop Assistants
- Shopping Parade EP: "All Day Long"; "Switzerland"; "All that ever mattered"; "It's up to you" (Aug 1985, Subway, SUBWAY1 [7"])
- "Safety Net" (Feb 1986, 53rd & 3rd, AGAAR1 [7"]/AGAAR112 [12"])
- "I Don't Wanna Be Friends With You" (Sep 1986, Blue Guitar, AZUR2 [7"]/AZURX2 [12"])
- "Here It Comes" (Jan 1990, Avalanche, AGAP001 7" / AGAP001B [7" + flexi + postcard + badge] box set)
- "Big 'E' Power" (May 1990, Avalanche, AGAP003 [7"]/AGAP003MC [c-s]/AGAP003T [12"]/AGAP003CD [CDS])
- Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 502
- Lazell, Barry (1998) Indie Hits 1980-1989, Cherry Red Books, ISBN 0-9517206-9-4, p. 204
- Garner, Ken (1993) In Session Tonight, BBC Books, ISBN 0-563-36452-1, p. 292
- "The Shop Assistants", Keeping It Peel, BBC, retrieved 2011-07-23