(c’92-03) This series of compilation albums was put out by Aldershot based Bluefire Records and focused on indie, alternative, punk and electronic bands initially from in and around the local music scene. Paul Talling was the head honcho, with Chris Shepherd co-promoting the gigs.
In 1992, the first ‘Snakebite City’ [BLU03] compilation arrived in a plain white card sleeve with blue sticker in the top right corner and a plain paper inner. Along with the vinyl was inserted a photocopied press release setting out the releases ethos. This release featured seven bands: Peachrazor, Big Boy Tomato, Phobia (listed as Mama Cain on pre-release material), Pretty Green, Backlash, Pomeroy, and Trousershock BC; contributing two tracks each. The 14 track ‘Snakebite City’ was release on 1 September ’92 and retailed for 1.99.
Skipping ’93, ‘Snakebite City Two’ [BLU05] arrived in 1994. While retaining the simple aesthetic with a plan black outer sleeve and red sticker this time the compilation feature 14 bands, plus one, with one track each. Pretty Green, Backlash, Big Boy Tomato, Peachrazor, and Phobia returned for the second installment, which also introduced Wat Tyler, Anorak Love, Who Moved The Ground?, Vox Pop, The Big Bang, PKRK, The Glory Strummers, Ventilator, and Catma to the collection. The plus one was a single-sided flexi disc carrying Plaything’s “Seduce” [BLU04].
1995 saw Snakebite City Three [BLU06] hit the shelves with 22 tracks by 22 bands, of which only four had made previous appearances. New to the series were China Drum, Peepshow, Dune Buggy Attack, Speedway, Xerox Girls, Apocalypse Babys, Yoghurtbelly, Skipper, The Love Family, Create!, Cuckooland, The Perfect Circles, All New Accelerators, The Shreds, Fabulous, Spitbaby, Seed, and Toys in the Attic. It now retailed for under a fiver with cover featuring a new snake skull (Bull Python-esque) design on the CD’s cover sleeve.. The compilation received an ‘excellent’ review in The Prisoner issue 1.4 fanzine (c’95).
Early in 1996, with another 22 tracks from 22 bands and still under a fiver, came Snakebite City Four. Gone was the plain aesthetic of one and two, and the snake head of three. New heart artwork by Mark Lavous covered the Nimbus mastered CD compilation that carried 13 new bands to the series: Gouge, Kung Fu, Bis, Gink, Pink Kross, Wact, Chicane, Angora, Cleatus, Showgirls, Profondo Rosso, Breaker, and Mad Carson, from as far afield as Glasgow and Cardiff.
September of that same year saw Talling’s compilation of a further 24 tracks from 24 bands hit the streets, distributed by newly formed independent, national music distributor Shellshock, as Snakebite City Five. Levous was again responsible for the sleeve artwork for the Nimbus mastered CD. Still retaining some local flair in the form of Inter, Twister, Who Moved The Ground? and Mega City Four. Twister, Inter and Mega City Four were making their first appearance in Snakebite; as were Watford’s Dweeb, Harlow’s The Sweeney, Oxford’s The Bigger The God, Stamford’s Midget, London’s Posh, Manchester’s Furball, Nuneaton’s Raggity Ann, plus Deaf Planet, Lithium Joe, Tongue, Speed Urchin, Pharmacy, Freeboy, Pa Skinny, Popstars, Avalanche, and Slender. Two months after the Snakebite City Five’s release, the one day music festival titled Farnham ’96 was presented by Shed Club and Bluefire/Snakebite City featuring These Animal Men, Dweeb, Posh, Supermodel, Inter, Chuck, Redwood, The Hairy Things, The Bigger God, Pharmacy, JC Regulator, PA Skinny, Twister, Avalanche and Snowball.
Some time in the first half on ’97 the sixth installment, Snakebite City Six [BLU09], arrived with the higher £6.99 price tag, distributed by now defunct UK distribution companies: Pinnacle and 3MV. Of the 25 bands, that included Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, on the Disctronics S pressed CD only Twister had appeared before. On the 26 April ’97 Snakebite City got together with Shed Club and presented Carter USM, Bennet, Spacemaid, The Bigger The God, Garageland, Sons of the Tribe, Jolt, Pullover, Dustball, Inter, Disco Pistol, Descent, Gel, and Oizone in an Indie All Dayer at The Maltings, Farnham. On 31 December Snakebite City held a New Years Eve Party, with Ex Boyfriends, Inter, Cornered, J.C. Regulator, and Breaker at the West End Centre, Aldershot.
Later in the year Snakebite City Seven [BLU10] returned to Shellshock for distribution and a price closer to a fiver. 25 bands with 25 songs, with only a couple of return appearances, and a short mystery piece of 19 seconds that is unlisted as the 26th track. The CD case, with an insert once again designed by Levous, carried a sticker on the rear correcting a error that saw the Inter track ‘Happy Ending’ listed that was actually ‘Game Over’. While many bands, promoters, managers, and labels provided tracks that had appeared or were about too appear elsewhere ‘Basement’ by Tiny Too is an early version of the track that would ultimately appear on their 1999 album ‘Things Ta I Discover’.
1998 and Snakebite City Eight [BLU10] was the penultimate piece of artwork by Levous for the series. It was however the first appearance by local Vis The Spoon with ‘Ocean Colour Scene Can…’ along with 22 other tracks from 22 other artists. Snakebite City collaborated with Shed Club again in 28 March 1998, presenting 2 bands over three stages at The Maltings, Farnham for Farnham ’98, which featured a Snakebite City stage upon which Glitterbox, Seafood, Inter, Spillage, Twister, Avalanche, Oizone and Co. Star appeared.
Recognizing that Bluefire Records Snakebite City series had drifted away from where it started as a local compilation of bands within a stones throws distance of Aldershot – in fact it had gone international by this point – Snakebite’s Coming Home [BLU13] bought it back to it roots. This release saw Vis The Spoon, Vex Red, Union Starr, Sonic Blue, Silverstream, Winner, TFL, Wench, Hobbes, Royal Noise, Scapegaots, Jetpak, Dummy, Kilter, @tomika, Spotless, Polar, Dick Savage, WOB (with the only live track, recorded at Brickhouse), Gandharva, J.C. Regulator, and a local super group called the Snakebite City Allstars present material. The sleeve notes also paid respect to the West End Centre, Aldershot and The Maltings, Farnham as well as local promoters Barney Jeavons (Geronimo / Splatch), Chris Shepherd (Shed Club), and Justin ? (Club Stoat).
The following year saw Snakebite City Nine [BLU15] arrive with a slightly heavier local contingent in the form of Twister, Kilter, and the return of Vis The Spoon and artwork by Rob Ingle.
Ingle returned to design the insert for Snakebite City Ten [BLU16] that was released in 2001 with the local talent represented by Reuben and Vis The Spoon in amongst the 26 artists and tracks.
Another two year wait for Snakebite City Eleven [BLU24] and the 22 tracks it carried, sheaved in another sleeve designed by Ingle, that hit the Shellshock targeted shelves on 17 February 2003. Five of the groups: Scarlett Soho, Riviera, Vic Twenty, Schmoof, and Motormark secured two tracks each on this compilation; but all 17 bands submissions suffered from over compression.
Paul Talling is now better know for his ‘Derelict London’ site and book; but in addition to running Bluefire Records he has worked on market stalls, promoted gigs, and collected debts. Derelict London started as a website covering long-forgotten tube stations, burnt-out mansions and gently decaying factories which became the Derelict London book that become a bestseller in 2008, with a number of reprints and a new edition in 2019. He has now also published the very well received London’s Lost Rivers and London’s Lost Music Venues.