HVN300 – A Heavenly Weekend In Hebden Bridge
Photographs by Neil Thomson
The Heavenly family travelled to Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire between 22nd and 25th January 2015 to start the celebrations of Heavenly’s 25th year. Photographer Neil Thomson was there with us for the duration
In 1965, Greenwich Village four-piece the Lovin’ Spoonful released their debut. Just over two minutes long, the 45 is one of pop music’s most perfect realistations; a glorious paean to the unyielding power of great music (whatever its stripe) that posited one of life’s great questions.
Do You Believe In Magic?
Twenty-five years later a fledgling record label based in an office just to the left of central London put out their first single in the spring of 1990. The World According To Sly and Lovechild was an understated 12” a rumbling, hypnotic eastern dub that showcased the nascent production skills of Andrew Weatherall and marked the first release on Heavenly.
Heavenly was born from the endlessly optimistic sprawl that emerged at the end of acid house; a spirit that took the Spoonful’s playful query and turned it into a statement of intent. Genre-defiant from the outset, Heavenly went on to release music by Saint Etienne, Manic Street Preachers, Flowered Up and the Rockingbirds over the next eighteen months.
To those with little imagination, Heavenly’s release schedule – a confluence of futuristic Northern Soul, speedball punk, wild-eyed urban rock’n’roll and squat party country music – must have seemed too wilfully eclectic. To anyone who viewed music as an endless mixtape being compiled in real time or the soundtrack to the best house party ever crashed, it made perfect sense.
For two and a half decades, Heavenly has been an open invitation to bands, DJs, singers, songwriters, artists, writers, converts and non-believers; a melting pot of transcendent tunes and the very best ideas born over lost afternoons in the pub. For that time, it’s been an ever-growing group of friends and fellow travellers along similar pathways; it’s been records, club nights, bars, gigs, artworks, t-shirts and magazines.
And all the while it’s never lost sight of that initial question, one that’s as relevant twenty-five years into a label’s lifespan as it was fifty years ago when John Sebastian first asked it.
Heavenly. Believe in magic. Always. Do you?