Rather unfairly, Britpop has become a dirty word.
I loved Britpop – and still do. Let’s face it; it was the
most exciting time in British music since the ‘60s.
And if you don’t agree with me, then, frankly, I don’t give a Shed Seven.
To mark the 15th anniversary of the beginnings of Britpop, I’m
currently listening to Common People. Britpop: The Story – a lovely
three-CD (54-track) box set that reads like the jukebox of the Good
Mixer in the mid-‘90s, rounding up the great and good from the Britpop
era. Oh, and Northern Uproar are on there, too.
Top bloke Bob Stanley (St Etienne) has written the in-depth sleeve
notes and there’s a great 24-page booklet, too. Brilliant, I can
relive my teenage fantasies thanks to pictures of Louise Wener and
Sonya from Echobelly! Honestly, it’s enough to make my Mozzer-style
quiff stand on end…..
Bizarrely, the album totally ignores any tunes from Oasis or Blur,
but, it does include plenty of forgotten gems that will have you
rummaging around in your wardrobe to drag out your skinny-fit Sleeper
T-shirt or your Fred Perry top (alas, mine don’t fit me anymore – not
enough cigarettes and too much alcohol) and doing Dick Van Dyke
chimney sweep dancing, quicker than you can say: ‘you can’t get
thicker than a shit Rick Witter’.
What’s cool about this compilation is that it’s not afraid to include
some lesser known Britpop beauties.
I’m made up to see that my faves Rialto, Gene and Spearmint are
represented – Louis Eliot’s cinematic popsters offer up the genius,
Scott Walker-like melodrama of Monday Morning 5:19, while Martin
Rossiter’s sauve, Smiths-like outfit give us the swaggering, late
night London taxi rank anthem that is Be My Light, Be My Guide, and
Spearmint go all Northern soul on us with the superb Sweeping The
Top marks, too, for including London Girls by Duffy (no – not the
Welsh warbler). Arguably the quintessential Britpop tune, it’s both
cynical and celebratory of the whole Camden ‘90s indie scene.
Controversially, I’m also loving the cracking
Neil-Young-meets-The-Byrds guitar epic Step Into My World by Creation
also-rans Hurricane#1, but then I am slightly biased, as I’m in a band
with their former singer, Alex Lowe. Ahem,
Ok, so we can do without the dodgy Dadrock of Cast, Kula Shaker and
Ocean Colour Scene, but who cares when you’ve got, err, Dodgy’s
hedonistic Staying Out For The Summer (they always use it on local TV
news shows when they’re doing a piece on festivals, don’t they?), the
equally summer-friendly Wake Up Boo! (The Boo Radleys), Menswear’s
sleazy Daydreamer and My Life Story’s grandiose showstopper, 12
If we’re being picky, why not include Suede’s Animal Nitrate over
Trash? And where’s Blur’s and Oasis’s best moments – namely This Is A
Low and Acquiesce?
Hold on a minute – how about Cathy Dennis’s version of Waterloo
Sunset, and why can’t we have Speedy’s teenage pin-up masterpiece Boy
Wonder? What about Octopus’s Jealousy, Thurman’s English Tea and Me Me
Me’s Hanging Around?
Anyway, as a representation of the mighty Britpop years, this album
is, err, Alright (yes -that’s on there) and will no doubt be
soundtracking the barbecues of thirty something couples everywhere
Britpop’s back: ooh, I’m so excited I could crush a (Black) grape.
Common People. Britpop: The Story (Universal Music) is out now.
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