Pleasantly Surprised was a cassette label that focused on post-punk, cold wave, new wave and ethereal bands, many of which happened to be on the legendary 4AD label. Pleasantly Surprised was a contrivance of Robert H. King based in Glasgow Scotland. It was originally intended as a fanzine…
But most of the bands I had written to sent demo's, so I thought rather than write about them I would put together a cassette and let people judge for themselves. -R.H.K
With the financial assistance of a friend who was already doing a fanzine, Robert released An Hour Of Eloquent Sounds. The cassette came in an 6x9 manilla envelope with photocopied inserts and featured an assortment of important bands of the day like The Birthday Party, Ludus, Cocteau Twins, The Wake, and Sunset Gun (notable for the band members Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski, future vocalists for This Mortal Coil).
Initially it was a one off, but due to the success, we set about putting together PS 002. We received such positive feedback that we had decidedly more cassettes than we needed. So rather than let people down, we put out a double C60. -R.H.K
After the release of PS 002 The Angels Are Coming, Robert and his partner went their separate ways. "We parted company, and so the money was halved." With a new enthusiasm and donations from a few friends, Robert carried on with great success. At the label's peak, 5000 copies of PS005 were sold. By the end of the run, Pleasantly Surprised had mail order service and distribution that reached all corners of the earth including: USA / Canada, Australia / New Zealand, Iceland / Scandinavia, Israel / Arabia, East & West Europe, Japan / China and of course the UK.
The cassettes were all elaborately packaged, usually with oversized cardboard covers in plastic sleeves and including several inserts or booklets. The music was mostly made up of demo, live or alternate take recordings which gave music fans a great opportunity to hear their favorite bands in a different light. In addition to offering compilations of otherwise unheard material, Pleasantly Surprised had the opportunity to release entire collections of rare music by Band Of Holy Joy, Test Dept, God's Gift, Clair Obscur, Dif Juz, and Dance Chapter.