Strawberry Wine is the start of My Bloody Valentine, Mark II. It was the first release to feature guitarist and vocalist Bilinda Butcher, who auditioned for the band following the departure of original singer David Conway. It also prominently utilized Kevin Shield’s deep voice – which were originally relegated to harmonizing “ahhhh”s. The extended-play was recorded at the same time as the Ecstasy mini-album.1
Although Sunny Sundae Smile showed significant headway into the noise pop and pedal abuse that would become the band’s career signature, Strawberry Wine is the first release to include the quintessential My Bloody Valentine traits. Production is rich and swirling, and Debbie Googe’s bass is actually audible this time around.2 Butcher and Shields sing in breathy, buried voices with distinct sensual overtones sans the perversion and richer enunciation of Conway. Each sound is awash in noise, but not drenched in the way that made The New Record by My Bloody Valentine nearly unintelligible. The lyricns are a lot simpler and were written based on tonal quality and texture, falling in line with Shields oft-stated remark that vocals are another instrument for the band.3
For the brief span of time between Butcher’s joining the band and You Made Me Realise, My Bloody Valentine incorporated a heavy jangle rock sound. The title track on Strawberry Wine is the most successful realization of that influence, juxtaposing early Byrds rock with the C86 indie pop that was sprouting up all over the British Isles. The first two tracks are quite energetic and lively, and belie the fact that the band already had four studio releases beforehand – three of which were of very middling quality. “Can I Touch You” has a decent strumming pattern and bass groove, but Shields’ drowsy solo vocals don’t carry it for the whole three minutes.
Strawberry Wine should be heard by anyone remotely interested in indie music, noise pop, and guitar-driven British rock; regardless of one’s interest in the band who made it.
1. Strawberry Wine – (2:33) – ★★★★★
2. Never Say Goodbye – (2:32) – ★★★★★
3. Can I Touch You – (3:15) – ★★☆☆☆
1Both releases would be compiled and released as Ecstasy and Wine through Lazy Records in 1989, although without the band’s consent.
2The title track actually has an excellent and quite understated bass groove.
3Here are a couple of good articles about that:
- Joseph, Fisher. “Something in the Way: ‘Loveless’ and the Un-Invention of Cock Rock.” PopMatters. October 12, 2011. Accessed March 12, 2016. http://www.popmatters.com/feature/146706-something-in-the-way-loveless-and-the-un-invention-of-cock-rock/.
- Murphy, Tom. “My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields on the Early Days of the Band, Using Synths and Tape-loops.” Westword. August 14, 2013. Accessed March 12, 2016. http://www.westword.com/music/my-bloody-valentines-kevin-shields-on-the-early-days-of-the-band-using-synths-and-tape-loops-5677908.
- Taylor, Parks. “The Quietus | Features | A Quietus Interview |.” The Quietus. May 10, 2012. Accessed March 12, 2016. http://thequietus.com/articles/08745-kevin-shields-interview-mbv-my-bloody-valentine.