Slowdive just released a track called “Kisses” off their forthcoming 2023 LP Everything is Alive. As I went down the Slowdive rabbit hole, it reminded me of this rare little unofficial bootleg that I unearthed a while back. I’m not sure where I picked it up, but all 13 variants are banned on Discogs due to the release’s unofficial nature. It’s called Hide Yer Eyes.
I took a look at the release on my YouTube Channel, which you can watch below:
Today, I want to share a little of what I’ve been able to dig up about this release then unbox, per se, my copy on vinyl and talk a little bit about the music within.
Before I dive too far into that. Let’s look at the new track:
Slowdive Gives Us “Kisses”
As noted in the opening paragraph, “Kisses” is off the band’s forthcoming LP Everything is Alive, out in September 2023 on Dead Oceans.
I think it’s great! It finds the band continuing to live true to their dreamy shoegaze sensibilities while morphing their sound and progressing it in new areas. You can maybe hear a little more Pygmalion in there — Pygmalion being their 1995 LP — and hints of their 2017 self-titled LP as well.
Here’s the official music video the band posted to YouTube:
Alti Philosophi Records
All variations of Hide Yer Eyes are on Alti Philosophi Records out of Germany. This appears to be a bootleg label that has released stuff by The Smiths, Morrissey, Siouxsie and the Banshees, My Bloody Valentine, and Swervedriver. It has been — and possibly still is — in operation since 2010. As far as I can tell, their most recent release was a BBC Sessions compilation featuring The Smiths in 2020.
Of course, I’m here to talk about Hide Yer Eyes, though, so let’s look at the history of it. For that, we need to go back a little more than three decades.
The Critical Reception of Just For A Day
In 1991, Slowdive released their debut LP, Just for a Day. It reached the top 10 in the UK indie charts and had favorable remarks from NME, but that was about it. It seemed everyone else hated it, especially when it came to music critics.
This was the sign of the times. Early 1990s. UK. The backlash against shoegaze had begun, and the bands within the sub-genre had not yet embraced the term. In fact, it was originally a pejorative or even derogatory term applied to these bands for their seemingly stationary stage presence.
Add to that the equally contemptuous “the scene that celebrates itself” term that was thrown into the mix and encompassed many shoegaze bands as well — Slowdive included. That scene was known for bands attending each others shows and frequently sharing members. An aside, the indie rock and even grunge scene in the Pacific Northwest that emerged around the same time and continued throughout the 1990s was equally homogenous. I digress…
Two years later, in 1993, Slowdive would release their now quite acclaimed LP Souvlaki, which gets its namesake from a Jerky Boys skit. Kinda playful, for such a serious sounding album, right? Well, a lot happened in between those two records, and that’s where we find Hide Yer Eyes.
The History Behind Hide Yer Eyes
Hide Yer Eyes is a collection of 10 relatively rudimentary songs by Slowdive. It is part of upwards of 40 songs the band wrote and recorded to demos around 1992, between their first two LPs. Theoretically, it was supposed to be released as a follow up to Just for a Day called I Saw the Sun, but that was tabled and the majority of songs scrapped.
If you look at the track list, you’ll see “Dagger,” which ultimately became the closing track on Souvlaki. Beyond that, to my knowledge, no song on this received an official release.
So, what happened? Why was it scrapped?
The band wasn’t entirely thrilled with how the recordings turned out, and Creation Records’ own Alan McGee absolutely hated the demos. He had some choice words to say about the songs and/or the recordings that I won’t repeat here.
This led to Slowdive returning to the drawing board.
Aside from “Dagger,” the songs on Hide Yer Eyes never received an official release. In a video by Stained Glass Stories that interviews Slowdive’s Christian Savill about the Souvlaki demos, Savill notes that there had been talk amongst the group about remastering and releasing some of the demos, but no one really knows where those original master tapes are.
He goes on to state:
I guess we weren’t really thinking of them as demos, we were thinking we were making the new record. I guess, because we had done so many songs in such a short period of time after that first album, and we had done a lot of touring, we were kind of feeling a bit of pressure … that first album wasn’t really well received … we weren’t really sure where we wanted to go with the new record. I think there was a lot of time spent recording, but not really knowing where we were going.Christian Saville on Stained Glass Stories
The Music on Hide Yer Eyes
People online have noted that the recordings are rough, and they could use some clean up if the masters could ever be found. A quick side-by-side comparison of “Dagger” here vs. what was released on Souvlaki is blatant proof of that. Still, for what might be considered as demos, some are relatively solid.
I hear traits of The Cure in the guitar and bass in “Bleed” and the way Slowdive blends in their signature dreamy, swirling guitars is just masterful! Then there’s “Richard” which is giving me strong Cocteau Twins vibes.
Other favorites include the driving melody and beats behind title track “Hide Yer Eyes” and the quite rough track “Ending,” which seems to have some pretty strong tie-ins with Just For a Day and even Souvlaki.
As expected, given the tracks were ultimately scrapped and the fact that this is a bootleg, there’s some disorientation in the cohesiveness of the album. At times, it seems there’s a lack of direction, which drives that earlier point home and lands precisely what Savill was talking about.
But I don’t care. This is a great release, especially if you — like me — are a die hard shoegaze and Slowdive fan. It’s a deep cut of rare tracks that would otherwise be lost to time.
It’s been noted that some were played live back in 1992, and one person even noted that “Sleep” from these unofficial recordings was played live as recently as 2022.
Vinyl Variants & Final Notes
I’m going to unbox my variant next, then talk a little about the music within.
I mentioned earlier that there are supposedly 13 variants listed on Discogs. Supposedly because this is not one, meaning there are at least 14 variants out there.
There appear to be three different cover art styles, this being the simplest. Others have a similar font treatment with the band name and release title, but have full-bleed printing behind them. Ones similar to this, per Discogs, are printed on brown sleeves whereas mine is black printing on a white sleeve. The back simply features a track list and minimal credits.
There are no inserts, but differences exist on the labels as well. My labels are blue, wereas others with a similar cover are red or white. A few pressings have colored vinyl.
You can argue the questionable ethics that unofficial and bootleg labels like this may hold given the bands they release do not monetarily benefit from what they’re doing, but for the archivist and completist, releases like these hold great value simply due to the fact that they paint a picture of a band in transition during a pivotal time.
Were it not for this release, who knows if we would ever get a physical copy of these somewhat lost songs.