Top 10 UK 80s Indie Bands

Published on

The Smiths photo by Pete Cronin and Redferns and Getty Images
Photo: Pete Cronin/Redferns/Getty Images

Debates still rage as to exactly when “independent” became “indie”, but what most people can agree on is that some brilliant bands hitched up to smaller labels (some of whom later signed to the majors and tussled with the Top 40) rocked our world during the 80s.  uDiscover’s Top 10 UK 80s Indie Bands applauds some of the most enduring cult acts of the decade.

The Primitives
Led by indie pin-up Tracy Cattell (aka Tracy Tracy) and guitarist/songwriter Paul Court, Coventry quartet The Primitives had their own Lazy imprint before signing to RCA. Featuring their signature hit ‘Crash’, most of their 1988 debut album Lovely still lives up to it name.

The Primitives - Crash

Click to load video

Happy Mondays
‘Madchester’-era indie-dance superstars at the turn of the 90s, Happy Mondays first hit their stride with 1988’s Martin Hannett-produced Bummed and the dancefloor remix ‘W.F.L’ in 89.

Spacemen 3
Critically-acclaimed and narcotically-challenged, Rugby-based psych-rockers Spacemen 3 made some superb records in the late 80s, not least 88’s The Perfect Prescription, featuring the glorious ‘Walkin’ With Jesus’.

Spacemen 3 - 'Revolution'

Click to load video

Cocteau Twins
Forever associated with the 4AD imprint, Scottish outfit Cocteau Twins’ landmark 80s albums as 84’s Treasure and 86’s Victorialand remain among the most seductive and ethereal discs known to pop.

Iceblink Luck - Cocteau Twins

Click to load video

My Bloody Valentine
Led by sonic architect extraordinaire Kevin Shields, My Bloody Valentine’s staggering Creation debut Isn’t Anything (1988) remains a proto-shoegazing classic.

The House Of Love
The hip name to drop in 1988, The House Of Love’s self-titled debut for Creation included stunning indie hits such as ‘Christine’. A remixed version of their classic debut 45 ‘Shine On’ later yielded a Top 20 UK hit.

House Of Love • Destroy The Heart (Official Video)

Click to load video

The Wedding Present
Forever in love and seemingly forever jilted, David Gedge from Leeds indie-rockers The Wedding Present wrote some of the best songs about personal politics during the 80s. Many of them featured on the band’s landmark 87 debut George Best.

The Wedding Present - You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends (Granada TV, 1988)

Click to load video

Jesus & Mary Chain
Sex Pistols-esque controversy, riot-strewn gigs lasting for 15 minutes, classic debut single (‘Upside Down’) and a stunning, feedback-ridden debut LP Psychocandy…The Jesus & Mary Chain’s early career is still the stuff of rock and roll legend.

The Jesus And Mary Chain - Head On (Official Music Video)

Click to load video

The Fall
Mark E Smith’s cantankerous Mancs manufactured a skip load of essential vinyl during the 80s. 82’s Hex Enduction Hour is right up there, though 85’s more accessible This Nation’s Saving Grace gets our nod of approval.

The Fall - Hit The North

Click to load video

The Smiths
Dour bedroom miserablists or the most exciting, literate and downright iconic indie guitar outfit of the 80s? We lean towards the latter point of view, not least on 1986’s stunning, era-defining The Queen Is Dead.

The Smiths - What Difference Does It Make? (Official Music Video)

Click to load video

Which 80s Indie Bands would you have on your list? Let us know below!

Format: Union Jack flagUK English


  1. David

    November 26, 2017 at 11:11 am

    The Darling Buds

  2. Roman

    November 26, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    The darling buds, the brilliant corners, the chesterfields, mighty mighty, the june brides, the housemartins, ride, the popguns…less of too many

  3. Simon

    November 26, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    The Field Mice

  4. Groo

    October 9, 2019 at 12:21 am

    Lloyd Cole & the Commotions

  5. Dave

    May 11, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    Where do HMHB and John Otway fit in then? I mean obviously they don’t “fit in” but really…

  6. Scooter

    August 10, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    Will someone please email me with the name of the band who did a song called Happy Birthday in ’87 or early ’88. They were from the UK, the lead singer wore his hair long and combat boots, and it seems like the song had Bah Bah Bah in it or Ba-Boom or something like that. They had a video on MTV. There may have been one girl in the band. The music was sort of like a precursor to that American band of the mid-90s that did their song in the mall (don’t remember their name either), just sort of fun post-post-punk-pop with jangling guitars and heavy bass drums.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

uDiscover Music - Back To Top
uDiscover Music - Back To Top