Heartbeat Records was set up in Bristol in 1978 by local folkie-type musician Simon Edwards and music store owner Tony Dodds to release the debut single by Bristol punk band Social Security. John Peel dubbed ‘I Don’t Want My Heart to Rule My Head’ “Charmingly rustic”, but then he would. With a free button badge coming with each copy, the record sold well and despite Dodds jumping ship after its release, the label was up and running.
With a few exceptions, Heartbeat largely moved away from punk into post-punk territory, serving up a dazzling array of clever, quirky bands – lots of sparse jagged guitars, busy drums and all the synths you could eat. But having said that, bands like Europeans, Apartment, The X-Certs, Glaxo Babies, The Letters, Stormtrooper, Art Objects and Affairs of the Heart, to name just several, were exploring very different styles giving the label a richly diverse roster that probably reached its peak with the release of Heartbeat’s 1979 compilation Avon Calling, described by John Peel (again) as “…really the standard by which the others must be judged in future. Because it really is superb there are 15 tracks on the LP, genuinely not a bad one amongst them, and a lot of really good stuff.”