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 Nation. 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 Reasons Why. 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 this summer. Britpop’s back: ooh, I’m so excited I could crush a (Black) grape.
Common People. Britpop: The Story (Universal Music) is out now.