Recently I’ve done a couple of dj sets playing powerpop and mod revival groups. I came across a brilliant track called “Dreams Come True” which was only ever released on The Countdown Compilation, one of the finest of its kind. It’s credited to The Combine (no doubt named after the Jam number), but after I found the same song on a Small World (a another revival group I’d enjoyed on the excellent This Is Mod compilations) record it was clear I needed to do some research.
It turns out Small World is one of my new favourite groups, having connections to others like The Rage, The Scene and The Combine. The Combine was formed around the same songwriting duo as Small World, but was probably a temporary venture. Small World formed in 1979 and not only released the excellent “First Impressions” 45, but also an earlier single on Dan Treacy’s Whaam! which surprised me since I thought I knew the label’s discography pretty well. But “Love Is Dead” was actually the third release on Whaam! and the first not by one of Treacy and Edward Ball’s groups. It was issued in a plain black sleeve, and none of the tracks made it onto the Whaam! compilation on Vinyl Japan.
You can still hear The Combine track on Ace Records’ Ready Steady Go – The Countdown Records Story, which features several of the tracks from the original 1985 compilation. The Small World retrospective I mentioned earlier is a truly essential double-disc set called Slight Detour, available from Detour, and also on Spotify. One of the best songs, “Purple”, also came out on 7″ in 2001. The band have reformed a few times and have a website with their story here.