Unless you happen to have a complete collection of seventeen discs from Bob Stanley’s pre-St Etienne Caff label, hail from the Medway towns or were a chum of pop enthusiast and Esurient label supremo Kevin Pearce then I expect The Claim are a band who passed you by. Of course, if you’re in your mid-twenties then you would have just about been getting to grips with the alphabet at the time this lot were in their pomp.
Your lucky day, however, is imminent. A long-awaited best of/rarities comp is edging closer to release, courtesy of Bus Stop. So, you will be able to hear for yourself some of the most exquisite and exhilarating pop this side of The Turtles. To get you started, check the youtube clip below. Birth of a Teenager was Caff’s eighth release and formed part of a sequence of stunning Claim 7” releases between 1988 and 1992, not to mention the Boomy Tella album on Esurient.
The Claim wrote exquisite songs of love, loss and social commentary, but were completely out of kilter with their time, though that’s all the more to cherish. It wasn’t always this way. In their early days there was little evidence that they would amount to a hill of beans. They came from the mod end of the spectrum, the Jam were an influence but not overtly so, as they evolved a style and sound of their own. The Kinks would seem an obvious touchstone, but they were not name-dropped willy-nilly in those days like they are now.
It didn’t happen for them. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong clothes. Of course they were not alone. Others were treading a similar path. Their time would come, but by the time Blur paved the way, the Claim boys were pulling a wage and bringing up their kids.
Enjoy this taster for the time being.