***this article features material that was originally published on the Mild Mannered Army as a separate article on the second Gene album, “Drawn to the Deep End”, that article has now been deleted from the blog …so for those who haven’t read it – enjoy – for those who have – I’m sorry, please just scroll on when something seems familiar***
This isn’t a story of boy meets girl.
A long time ago…
No, that’s no good either. Too cliched.
Let me think about this.
O.K, this time.
He was looking for something, looking for someone.
No. Too impersonal. This has to be personal. This is personal.
One more try.
I was looking for something, looking for someone and then I found…them, but really I found him.
Before we really get into this, I think we should start in the middle…
I had managed to blag my way backstage when Gene played The Venue in Edinburgh on the “Revelations” tour. It was a small venue but they were a big band. They had been on the telly and everything. I would become a bit obsessed with them. I fell, utterly, for the “new Smiths” label that had been hung (not entirely unfairly) around their respective necks since their debut single. Thanks to bad timing on the part of my parents, I had not been born in time to be old enough to be aware of The Smiths when they were still a band. I had come to them after they had split and hadn’t ever really gotten over that fact. I transferred all of my upset over that into an obsession with Gene…they could be my Smiths.
I am backstage then. Everyone is being very friendly to me and I eventually strike up a conversation with Martin Rossiter. He is incredibly charming. Nice. Funny. Call me silly but I think we sort of hit it off in that way that so rarely happens. I got the distinct impression that we could be friends. Of course, everybody who ever meets one of his or her idols feels that way but…
The next day I meet up with Martin as the band are staying in Edinburgh for one more night before heading off to the next gig on the tour. We go out for a bite to eat. Pizza Express if you were interested. It’s a nice evening. We have things in common. This is beginning to sound like the early stages of a romance. I suppose it was in a way. I certainly loved Gene and, by extension, I loved Martin. Before the band leave town, he invites me to attend their gig at the Leadmill in Sheffield. It’s a fair old journey but I don’t have anything better to do so I agree.
After that gig, I am introduced to a fabulous character by the name of Trotsky. He is, like me, a music obsessive and a skinhead. We have been mates ever since. Martin has known Trotsky since they worked in an Our Price together some years ago. I like the fact that he’s stayed in touch with someone from a time before the fickle finger of fame has fingered him, it suggests a certain integrity. After that, I meet up with Martin and his wife (a more beautiful person on the outside and the inside you would struggle to meet) a few times…we go ten-pin bowling on one occasion. I won.
Then we rather drifted apart a bit. We were never friends of course; at best, I was an acquaintance, a fleeting character in the background of the soap opera of a Britpop star’s life during the 1990’s. I would wager Martin has no idea about any of this having taken place. Who could blame him for that? Not me. I am not particularly memorable. Most of you will already have forgotten me by the time you get to the end of this sentence…see.
The debut single from Gene arrived in 1994. It was “For the Dead” and it was the first single of the Britpop era that obviously owed a debt to The Smiths. I know that the budget Smiths thing is a bit of a dial-a-cliché where Gene are concerned but with this single, it was accurate. I have a very clear memory of watching the video for “For the Dead” on the I.T.V Chart Show one Saturday morning. It is a genuinely dark and sad song, entirely at odds with the “cor blimey, geezer” offerings of many of the Britpop bands. There was very little sun-shee-ine in the lyrics of “For the Dead”;
“Everyone is just turning away from me
Am I really that filthy
It’s cold and dark, let me in”
Filth, isolation, cold and darkness…this was, very clearly, a world away from girls who liked boys who liked girls who liked etc.
“Intelligence isn’t to be ignored. Articulacy isn’t to be ignored.”
“…our lyrics have a lot of depth to them. Most bands don’t pay enough attention to lyric writing and Martin does it with a lot of gusto and damn sight more sophistication than anybody I know of.”
That intelligence, articulacy, sophistication and gusto was echoed in the music that Steve Mason (guitar and, never forget, haircut), Kevin Miles (bass) and Matt “the hat” James (drums) crafted around the words. As a result, Gene quickly became one of the live acts on the nascent Britpop scene, so much so that N.M.E journalists Keith Cameron and Roy Wilkinson set up a record label with the sole purpose of promoting them to a wider audience. It was that label, Costermonger, that would release “For the Dead” as a double-a side with “Child’s Body” (a song that brought a little controversy thanks to the line “Give me, your child’s body”…despite the fact that the song was about the horrors of anorexia certain tabloid types attempted to paint at as something a little more sinister) and release it as an ultra-limited 7” single. The run of 1994 (geddit?) copies sold out within two days and copies were quickly selling for several times the purchase price…my copy cost me £30.
A second single, “Be My Light, Be My Guide”, was released shortly after this and it too proved a big hit with the indie kids of the Britpop scene. Here was a band, it appeared, who had something to say and were keen to say it with as much verve, guts and guile as they could manage. “Be My Light…” was a twisted hymn to drunken nights out that were fuelled by regret and shame more than lust and desire.
Two more singles (“Haunted by You” and “Sleep Well Tonight”) preceded the debut album “Olympian” hit the shelves in 1995. I was actually waiting outside of the tiny record shop in the town where I had digs at University before it opened. I wanted to be one of the first people to own a copy. I had a feeling that “Olympian” was going to be a rallying call to the grotesquely lonely and would be the first step on the journey to world domination for this band I had grown to love in a ridiculously short amount of time.
Back in my room, I hit play (I don’t know why I bought it on C.D) and waited.
First up was “Haunted by You” which I already knew. The line “Your words, they cannot harm me now” had ensured that it would forever have a place in my heart. Every slightly awkward, unusual and acne ridden adolescent boy with no stomach for sport (certainly with no sporting ability) knows the harm that words can cause…I was once followed around the playground when I was in my fourth year of secondary school by a girl in the first year screaming “Pizza pus” (pus is a charming Scottish word for face) at me for the duration of the lunch break, eventually I had to take shelter in the toilets. I know, I know, it is hardly the equivalent of the treatment that Gripper Stebson handed out to Roland Browning in “Grange Hill” but still, it was embarrassing and confusing. Here we are 30 years later and I still remember it. Anyhoo…your words, they cannot harm me now.
What was already obvious was that the comparisons with The Smiths were simply devious, truculent and unreliable statements from music journalists who hadn’t listened to Gene or, in all likelihood, The Smiths. Now in an, almost, provocative act of hypocrisy I am going to point out a similarity between the two bands. Father forgive me. It arrives on the second track “Your Love, It Lies” when the opening lines mention “…the wardrobe sees you sleep” which is a clear nod to The Smiths “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” with its “…the wardrobe towers like a beast of prey”.
“Truth, Rest Your Head” is an intriguing tale of an injustice, a false accusation, a public scandal with the narrator turning his back on a former friend or lover…”for me, tonight, you died”. Death looms large on “A Car That Sped” as a voice from beyond urges a love one left behind to “learn to live alone”. The Grim Reaper returns in “London, Can You Wait?” with the line “My kith and kin, death just walked in…again.” and then once more in “To the City” with “You found the right cliff top for saying goodbye.” We are in a very different world to one where cigarettes and alcohol are the only things to worry about.
“Left-Handed” is a blistering, rage-filled indictment of hate and institutionalised discrimination towards the gay community. It is the first real evidence of Martin Rossiter as a political voice and, once again, puts Gene into a very different realm to most of their peers, certainly in relation to lyrical themes and conviction. From these early moments of the Gene tale, Rossiter had been unambiguous about his sexuality and told Jon Wilde in an interview with Sabotage Times in 2012;
“I wasn’t remotely interested in a game of hide and seek with the media. I’d have considered that to be a betrayal of the people who’d gone before me and fought for gay rights. I couldn’t be doing with some long running “is he or isn’t he?” debate because that would have been profoundly boring. I didn’t want to be Michael Stipe or Morrissey. Admitting that I was bisexual didn’t harm me in the slightest. In the main my sexuality was irrelevant to the songs.”
My favourite track on “Olympian” is the sweet and tender, giddy rockabilly of “Still Can’t Find the ‘Phone” complete with its nod to the King in Martin’s “uh-huh-huh” at the end of the first verse. Many years later I asked him to make me a tape of Elvis songs because, growing up in a Mod household I hadn’t really been aware of him. When that tape arrived in the post, it kicked off with “If I Can Dream” which, almost instantly, became one of my favourite songs. That song was also covered by fellow outsiders of the inside in the nineties, Strangelove with Patrick Duff dedicating it to his “mama”. Funny old world innit.
Like a rock and roll version of “Smalltown Boy” by Bronski Beat, “Sleep Well Tonight” is a tale of leaving home after being “rumbled”…like “Left Handed” it seems to deal explicitly with the challenges faced by young people coming to terms with their sexuality. Equally the idea of leaving an “…excuse for a town” applies to all the boys who see glitter in the gutters of the big cities and want nothing more than to be someone, somewhere, anywhere…but where they are.
The album finishes with a love song, the gossamery, subdued and rare “We’ll Find Our Own Way” with the promise of two becoming one and leaving scarred and twisted days behind with the help of someone who loves us more than we could ever allow ourselves to love us. It’s a fittingly finespun end to an album that arrived in an era of “Loaded” magazine and new lad but that refused to play that game. They were the right band at the wrong time and it was that fact that ensured they had an audience just waiting for them to arrive and save them.
I’ve missed a song out?
I don’t think so darling hearts.
Oh. Yes. You’re right. I have.
“And since Space is divisible in infinitum, and Matter is not necessarily in all places, it may be also allow’d that God is able to create Particles of Matter of several Sizes and Figures, and in several Proportions to Space, and perhaps of different Densities and Forces, and thereby to vary the Laws of Nature, and make Worlds of several sorts in several Parts of the Universe. At least, I see nothing of Contradiction in all this.”
(Isaac Newton, “Opticks”, 1704)
The theory of multiverse is open to debate and criticism of course but if we can accept, just for the sake of argument, that there may well be other, infinite, universes where all possibilities are being played out then I would like to suggest that it isn’t impossible that somewhere, sometime, somehow there is another, alternate world where “Olympian” is number one in the charts…it has always been number one…it will forever be number one. Somewhere in a world that’s reality.
“Olympian” is the most Gene of Gene. It begins with a whisper…”Give me something…I can hold, with that something I will grow”, a piano chimes, a guitar gently weeps, drums roll gently like waves lapping against the shore. It grows more confident, becomes more assured…formidable, not afraid. Finally it becomes an anthem, the sort of song that could only ever be at home in front of thousands, tens of thousands, of adoring and adorable apostles. “I could only be normal with you” sings Rossiter and we all cry back, “There is no such thing as normal.” It’s a passionate plea from a broken heart that is demanding that we piece it back together.
One of the most striking aspects of the British music scene in the 1990’s was the elevation of the b-side from the position of filler to the home of songs that could, easily, have been hit records in their own right. Suede released an album, a double-album, of their b-sides that many people believe is their finest collection of songs. Oasis threw away songs that would have been number one records on their b-sides. Blur used the space to deliver curious, artefacts and glimpses of future directions. Gene were no different and the b-sides from the singles leading up to “Olympian” were fabulous things; “Child’s Body”, “This is Not my Crime”, “I Can’t Help Myself”, “Sick, Sober and Sorry”, “Do You Want to Hear it From Me?”, “How Much For Love?”, “I Can’t Decide if She Really Loves Me” and “To See the Lights” were all fine examples of the gifts of Gene…a fact the band, and their label, recognised as they released them on the “Hatful of Hollow” like “To See the Lights” in 1997…an album that made it into the top twenty.
It was a fact, universally acknowledge by this time, that Gene were also one of the finest live acts of the day. Where some saw Rossiter as some fey, winsome, twee(dy) character the truth was that, live, he was a muscular performer…a man who could win over even the most hostile of crowds and hold them in the palm of his hand. The band were equally powerful live performers, ensuring that the sound and the fury remained constant regardless of whether they were in King Tuts Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow or the Brixton Academy. All of this combined to ensure that the Gene fanbase was large and loyal.
What came next was nothing less than a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
“Drawn to the Deep End” is the most devastatingly honest and emotionally brutal album of the nineties.
While critics were working themselves into a frenzy over Radiodead and their maudlin mumblings, Gene quietly released a flawless set of songs that spoke directly to the heart while running their immaculate sonic fingers across your brow to soothe you.
Instead of blowing their marketing budget on a cocaine fuelled blow-out at a trendy London nite-klub Gene took the album to the people at a series of playback evenings in the most intimate of venues. The band were there, each song was introduced and then played with video footage to accompany them. I was there for the Glasgow date at the Old Athenaeum, a former cinema with a fading glamour that seemed to perfectly suit the songs and the album artwork. During the audience Q&A I participated in the following “conversation” with Martin Rossiter;
MMA: Good evening. Oscar Wilde once said that “talent borrows, genius steals” and I wondered what that meant for you. Are you talented or geniused?
Martin Rossiter: Well, all I can really say is that I do use the library but I always return the books.
It’s difficult to see that as anything other than firm evidence for the ready wit of Gene’s leader and my own inability ever to be anything other than…a bit less witty than everyone else in the room.
The album opens with “New Amusements”…the hiss and crackle of a guitar being hooked up to a speaker, a throbbing, pulsating, bass line, a simple piano coda, a guitar part begins to build, the whisper of Rossiter in the background, nearly drowned by the sound and then a furious, nearly hysterical, rhythm bursts from the disquieting stillness…”You are here to serve me, Shut up, Sit down, Begin…Do me fast, Then take it slow.” It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up tune with a filthy and furious lyric. It also highlights the fact that Gene possessed not just one of the most curious and quotable singers of his generation but an equally gifted set of musicians; Steve Mason the nearly too Mod for Mod guitarist playing the laddish foil to Rossiter’s more fey sensibilities, Matt “the hat” James on drums and Kevin Miles on bass.
“Is this song about shagging?” is, according to Rossiter himself, the question he was asked by his own mother when she first heard the next track “Fighting Fit”. He had to confirm that it was indeed about the glories and delicious pains of the beast with two backs…it would have been a futile exercise to try and deny it with lines like “Come and get my plateful” and “Your shoulders act as my strength”. He’s a naughty boy is that Martin Rossiter.
The first time I heard “Where are They Now?” all of the comparisons with The Smiths made sense, not because it sounded like them (the truth is that Gene always sounded just like Gene) but because the sense of yearning, the desire to be loved and to be able to love which was so beautifully and brilliantly captured in the lyrics was the match of anything that Morrissey had ever committed to vinyl. “I’m incapable of breathing, I’m incapable of love in my world” is the sort of thing that anyone who has ever been lost in, or out, of love can relate to.
Who is “HoHo McGann”? Is the question on the lips of many after “Speak to me Someone” reaches its climax. I’m being frivolous of course…because that is how British men deal with the sort of truth and beauty that hits you square in the face when you listen to something like this. “Smash into me someone and hold me…hold me…no…can you tell me, will I ever dream again?” I was at university (if you can call the University of Paisley a university) when “Drawn to the Deep End” arrived and I was miserable. I was in a long distance relationship that had turned sour…toxic…and I was miles away from my friends and my family. I so desperately wanted someone to smash into me, to hold, to tell me I would dream again. Then somebody did…Martin Rossiter.
When I heard the line “It’s time to tell my friends I love them” in “We Could be Kings” I did exactly that. I picked up the landline (or the ‘phone as it was known then) and started to dial.
“Chris? It’s Max. I just wanted to let you know…well…I just wanted to say…I love you. Night mate.”
“Ben, Max. I want you to know that I love you.”
“Keith, it’s me, Max. Yeah, I’m fine. Listen. I love you.”
I called everyone I knew who had ever been friendly, never mind ever been an actual friend and told them that I loved them. It felt wonderful. Of course I know that love isn’t just about “saying” and that it’s “showing” that really matters but it’s important to let people know sometimes…why don’t you tell your friends you love them? Don’t post a Tweet or update your Facebook status…pick up the ‘phone and tell them. Do it. I’ll be here when you get back.
That was good wasn’t it?
“Why I Was Born” is another love song, another hymn to friendship, to intimacy, to longing…”I really do want to show you I love you, I now know why I was born”. The idea of one never being alive until twenty five that Rossiter sings about was of huge comfort to me…I was 24 and knew that, at best, my life up to that point had been half-lived and could only really be measured out in bus stops and rain (as the brilliant Mr Dickon Edwards once described his own life). The idea that things might be about to actually start filled me with the hope of the hopeless.
It happened a long time ago now.
It seems like it was yesterday.
The decision to self-harm wasn’t one that had been in my mind. I hadn’t ever thought about it. I wasn’t the type. Whatever the type was…or is. After I had done it I drove myself to triage and was patched up by a very sympathetic nurse and was sent home after an overworked doctor asked me if I felt suicidal…I didn’t. I felt…desperate? I felt a bit disconnected. I felt a bit sad. On the drive home I wondered what this meant. As I drove I thought about “Long Sleeves for the Summer”…and one line in particular seemed to say everything I couldn’t about where I was and what I had done; “Just being alive can sometimes hurt.” That’s truer than so many realise.
In an album filled to the point of overflowing with songs about the need to be loved, the need for love, the need to show love and the need to fill the aching void that passes as a heart the most delicate and the most sincere is “Save Me, I’m Yours”. It’s the highlight of a magnificent suite of songs. Each note embraces the lonely and each line comforts the ailing and the failing. It’s lovely and warm and raw and…everything.
Something darker this way comes in the shape of “Voice of the Father” which is deeply unsettling. The horror of childhood nightmares that are, in truth, childhood memories are laid bare as Rossiter sings of bad dreams being made real, closed doors that terrify and time as a sinister force that can devour. It’s a very unsettling song made more so by the pounding, brutal, forceful music that drives it. That theme of domestic abuse is carried on in “The Accidental” where a victim takes matters into their own hands with a flashing blade…as the victims mind goes numb and they are led by their gut. By the end there will be blood.
“I Love You, What Are You?” is an invitation to come and find true love in arms that could be the “…home you never had”. It’s a welcome moment of hope after the despair of so much of what has preceded it with Rossiter demanding that you must go on because, well, life will. That sliver, glimmer of hope is echoed by the tender heart of “Sub Rosa” which is a “…lowly dedication to the lonely of the world”. Perversely though this moment of charm ends with the opening sonic assault of “New Amusements” being revisited and the amps are turned up to eleven which, of course, is one more than ten.
In an interview with Brighton newspaper The Argus back in 2013 Martin Rossiter had this to say about “Drawn to the Deep End”; “I struggled to listen to [Drawn To The Deep End] because of the production. It was a little bit too hi-fi and I didn’t like my voice on the record.” That, I think, is the difference between the artist and the fan…the constant need to see ways in which things can be improved, a desire to move forwards. For me “Drawn to the Deep End” is faultless.
Equally perfect was the selection of songs that Gene chose to cover on the b-sides to the albums singles; “Autumn Stone” by the Small Faces, “Wasteland” by The Jam (they also covered “Town Called Malice” on the “Fire and Skill” covers album), “Nightswimming” by R.E.M and “The Ship Song” by Nick Cave. They were also responsible around this time for covering “Back for Good” by Take That live on Radio 1…with Martin asserting that the line “In the twist of separation, you excelled at being free” being as good as it gets.
If “Drawn to the Deep End” was an album that spoke directly to the broken and the lonely, the damaged ones then “Revelations” offered a glimpse into the soul of man under capitalism. It is one of the most overtly political albums of the nineties. Just a few years earlier Noel Gallagher had been quaffing champagne inside number ten Downing Street with Tony Blair and the whole country had bought into the New Labour vision…things could only get better was the campaign promise. For Rossiter, a devout, radical, socialist though the whole thing was a sham and he was eager to let everyone involved in the project exactly what he thought. To accompany this political fury Rossiter ditched his foppish locks and returned with his head shaved…possibly a nod to 80’s political agitators and redder than red socialists The Redskins.
Epistolary. Apocalyptic. Prophetic.
Gene’s book of revelations (I know that in the Bible it is the Book of Revelation) is a letter to the political class, it is filled with visions of the end of socialism and it offers a vision of what lies in wait for the Labour Party…all delivered with the sort of pop ‘n’ roll that we had grown to love. This, of course, casts Martin as some sort of Saintly figure. The Catholic Saint Martin was one who cared for all people regardless of race or wealth…our Martin would approve.
Let’s start at the end.
“You’ll Never Walk Again” is, arguably, the best song in the Gene catalogue. It has similarities with “Olympian”…the slow build from near ballad to the epic roar of an anthem. Lyrically it shows, yet again, exactly where Rossiter differed from his peers of the time…
“I used to think
I had been on the planet too long
No intention to end this dull ache
But with you on my arm
No, the feeling’s not gone
But I’m starting to think that it might”
By the time it finishes audiences were left sobbing on the floor of venues up and down this island…reduced to soggy messes by the sheer brilliance of what had just been thrust into their ears before finding its way to their souls. Few other bands of the time were capable of things like this. Few? No?
The album starts with the lead single “As Good As It Gets” which is as close to physical assault as pop music gets with Rossiter repeatedly punching New Labour in the face for the crime of red becoming blue. It is a manifesto for the disillusioned. “If you’re paid, you’re not poor”, “People want to work, not fester in the dirt”, “The greedy still fear you and me” on and on it goes…it is always a good thing when people have things to say and then say them, no hiding in the shallows for Rossiter. It’s not the only political statement on the album “Mayday”, “The British Disease” and “Love Won’t Work” are all equally concerned with the fate of the nation under Blair, Campbell and Mandelson.
Early on in Mrs Max’s pregnancy we had a bit of scare. We ended up visiting the hospital in the early hours of the morning to get some help. As we sat waiting over a period of several hours all of the most awful thoughts filled our heads; what will we do if we’ve lost the baby was chief among them. It was a long and upsetting night. We hardly spoke a word. When we eventually saw someone and were sent home with relatively comforting words we sat in the car and cried. There was only one song I wanted to hear, only one song that would work. “Little Child” was that song.
“Hold on one more day for me
Little child, my little child
I will be your breath and fire
My little child”
I felt instantly soothed.
If anyone involved in Gene ever reads this I hope they find some joy in knowing that at my lowest ebb, at my most vulnerable, at my most afraid, at my most helpless…they were there and they brought peace to the troubled waters of what passes for my soul.
The second single from the album was “Fill Her Up” which came in two quite different forms, a slightly sedate version (which appeared on the album) and a more rambunctions version which one could easily imagine a merry band of drunken Cossacks performing the Hopak to.
While the rest of the album was solid, it was also true to say that it was unremarkable. It was the first time that after one listen I found myself ready to lift the needle and move on to the next track. That sounds like a criticism but it is simply a comment on how high the mark had been set by the previous albums, after all, most albums see you stabbing at the skip button at least once…usually when “Country House” starts.
“Only when we got to Gretna Green did we realise that Polydor had disembarked at Crewe.”
It had been clear to the band that Polydor had lost interest in Gene and had, consequently, failed to promote “Revelations” with as much gusto as it deserved. It is an album that, better than any of their others, captures the power of Gene live. One cannot help but feel that the rushed nature of the recording process (it took just a month to complete) and a lack of any real marketing was simply an attempt by Polydor to ease Gene towards the exit. This isn’t an unfamiliar tale for British bands in 1999…the record labels felt, rightly or wrongly, that time was up for Britpop and so any band seen to be a part of that moment found themselves cast adrift.
The band carried on as a live entity throughout 2000 and, famously, became one of the first acts to see the potential of the internet when they performed a webcast live from the Troubador in Los Angeles to around 60,000 people worldwide. I wasn’t one of them…the internet hadn’t quite made it in any meaningful sense to my life. That show was also released as the live album “Rising for Sunset” which featured songs from all three albums and three new songs; “Does he Have a Name?“, “Rising for Sunset” and “Somewhere in the World“. It was a snapshot of a the band at a crossroads…clearly they still had “it” and they still had a massive fanbase but could they persuade anyone else to back them?
The answer to that question was…not really. Instead Gene took the plunge and self-released what was to be their final album “Libertine” on their own Sub-Rosa Records label. It reached number 92 in the charts in 2001 and signalled the end for a band who were not just loved but adored by their followers.
“Libertine” though was not the sound of a last gasp but was, in fact, a fierce last stand against everything that mattered in the music business; style over substance, image ahead of talent, industry over craft. It has much in common with “Drawn to the Deep End”, certainly it revisits ideas of love gone wrong, loneliness and isolation. My feeling is that many of the songs on this album are more intimate, more personal and more revelatory than anything else Gene had done…which is quite the statement when one considers exactly what had gone before.
“Do you want another lover
Do you tire of me
Have you had a better offer?
Something wild and free?
I hope to God you’re sure
You want this other more
Than you once wanted me”
(“Is it Over?”)
Did she want another lover?
I think so.
Had she tired of me?
As much as I had of her I suppose.
We were trudging slowly over the wet sand of a relationship that had run its course long before.
Time suggests that we both had better offers.
Where “Little Child” had soothed me at a moment when I most needed soothing so “Is it Over?” perfectly articulated my emotional state at that stage in my life. That relationship struggled on for several more years and when it did it was this song that I returned to…over and over and over and over again. It was so good to know that someone else knew. I wasn’t alone…even if I was lonely.
For that one song alone I would be grateful that Gene had carried on for a few months longer. “Libertine” wasn’t a one trick pony though there were several other moments of classic songwriting and peak Gene…”Does he Have a Name?”, “You” and “Somewhere in the World” are personal favourites and feature whenever I recommend Gene to people who are unaware of them. Sadly this was a full stop on the story of one of the brightest and bestest bands of their time. Few could hold a candle to them but it really was over.
The Stone Roses got back together.
Blur are releasing new music again.
Sleeper are on tour.
The list of bands one never thought of seeing anywhere other than on Top of the Pops re-runs on BBC4 is endless. Surely there is still a chance that we could see Gene hit the road and release new music again?
I’ll leave the last word on that to Martin…
“There was no thought of reforming the band, certainly not as far as I was concerned. A lot of people have brought it up as a possibility but it’s not something that interests me. Not in the slightest. A lot of people would be interested in it for nostalgic reasons. We could sell out Brixton Academy in no time at all. We could certainly sell many more tickets than I’m selling on my own. But who would be interested in Gene doing anything new? Every other band, including Stone Roses, has reformed and they’re all money-grabbing bastards. Shame on the lot of them.”
(Martin Rossiter, Sabotage Times, 2012)