Yesterday’s release of the new C89 compilation gives the perfect excuse to revisit one of the highlights of its predecessor from last year, C88 – the buoyantly, ludicrously entertaining A Million Zillion Miles by Annie & The Aeroplanes. It’s a piece of blissful, bubblegum, indie-pop/punk from 1988 that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Singer Annie had had a long career in the ’70s and ’80s travelling the world as a busker – as documented on the B-side Travelling Song (also on the link above). During her travels, she spent time in the South of France playing in a country band called Cowpoke Annie & The Texas Longhorns, which morphed into the even more endearingly named Chien Chaud et les Hot Dogs. She settled for a while in Bradford, West Yorkshire, when, as she puts it, “having a baby put a spoke in my wheels”. That’s where Annie & The Aeroplanes came into being, aiming for a sound incorporating chief influences Blondie, The Velvet Underground, early Who, Ramones, The Beach Boys and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd.
A Million Zillion Miles, as their poppiest song, was chosen to be their first single and it was, more or less, self-released with the help of a friend on Pipedream Records – set up specifically for that purpose. It got some attention from the music press and enough radio play to bring real record labels sniffing around the band. Sadly, the band never got the deal they deserved. Songwriter Timmy’s theory is that, “at that time other bands appeared doing similar stuff who were younger, prettier, tighter (though not as good)”, and it was those youngsters who got signed up.
Ultimately, the low return on all their efforts left them broke and a little demoralized. Annie & The Aeroplanes split up for good in 1989, leaving A Million Zillion Miles as their first, last and only single, which, judging by how great it is, is a real shame.