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Shop Assistants

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Edinburgh, United Kingdom (1984 – 1987, 1989 – 1990)

The Shop Assistants were an indie pop band from Edinburgh, Scotland, formed in 1984, initially as Buba & The Shop Assistants. The original line-up was Aggi on vocals, David Keegan (guitar), Sarah Kneale (bass), Laura MacPhail (drums) and Ann Donald (drums), this line-up releasing one single, the highly-collectable ‘Something To Do’ which was produced by Stephen Pastel who also contributed backing vocals. Aggi left to be replaced by Alex Taylor, which saw the name shortened to simply ‘The Shop Assistants’ and the next release was ‘All Day Long’ in 1985, which Morrissey described as his favourite single of that year. This was followed in early 1986 with ‘Safety Net’, the first release on Keegan’s 53rd & 3rd Records, which topped the indie chart, and the band recorded national radio sessions for John Peel and Janice Long of BBC Radio One.

They were featured on the NME’s 1986 compilation C86 with one of their slower songs, “It’s Up To You”. Also in that year, they signed to the Chrysalis Records off-shoot Blue Guitar for a further single, ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Friends With You’ and their first and only LP album, The Shop Assistants. This spent one week at number 100 in the UK album charts, which gives the band the distinction of being the (joint) least successful act ever to hit the national charts. The album was re-released on CD in 2001, although it is now hard to find.

The band split early in 1987, when Alex joined The Motorcycle Boy. After a two-year hiatus, the band reformed (without Alex) in 1989 with Sarah Kneale now on vocals and Laura MacPhail on bass and the addition of Margarita Vasquez-Ponte on drums, releasing a brace of singles in 1990 before splitting again, Keegan joining The Pastels.

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