Lather Palaver – Shampoo



Anyone who really cares about the glories, ecstasies and wonders of pop music understands that attitude is as important…more important…than silly things like being able to play instruments or write lyrics.  Of course there is a place for both of those things…I’m not averse to boys and girls with guitars who have read a bit of Camus or Sartre.  But to deny yourself the giddy thrills of people with nothing but a bit of attitude, a good haircut and enough self-belief to floor a rampaging herd of elephants is to cut off your nose to spider face (you are welcome American “Office” fans!).

Jacqui and Carrie met at Plumstead Manor School and quickly realised that their shared love of pop music was a tie that would bind.  The object of most of their affection at this point were the Manic Street Preachers.  This was “Gold Against the Soul” era Manics…all eye-liner, feather boas and lipstick traces.  The girls decided to shower the band with their love by producing a fanzine called “Last Exit”.  For the critics of what was to come this is an unfortunate and uncomfortable piece of trivia because it highlights the fact that these were two people who understood the importance of rock and roll.  They were real man.

Their first forays into the world of making records were “Blisters and Bruises” and “Bouffant Headbutt” which flirted with the riot grrrl sound and scene and sound but which didn’t make any impact despite positive reviews.  They were undeterred and within a year would find themselves bursting into the top twenty in the UK and with a debut album that would sell over a million copies and make them megastars around the world.

“Trouble” arrived in 1994 and it is one of the best pop songs of the decade.  Armed with a rhyming dictionary and paying scant regard for trifling matters like, you know, actually singing they shout, sneer, speak and shriek their way through a tale of teenage troubles that anyone who has ever actually been a teenager could relate to.  It is a song that seems to have been created in the laboratory of some mad pop scientist with one aim…to put a smile on your face.

You have to be suspicious of people who cannot find a reason to love (yes LOVE) a song like “Trouble”.  They are the sort of people who would have you believe that seeing Bob Dylan live is a near religious experience.

That’s bullshit.

I’ve seen Dylan live…I wanted to rip the flesh from my bones and dive headlong into a swimming pool full of vinegar after about seventeen seconds.

So there.

The debut album “We are Shampoo” managed to scrape into the top fifty in the UK but was, ahem, big in Japan where it reached number eight.  It is a real shame that Shampoo didn’t go on to become as big as the Spice Girls…they had better songs, they looked cooler and they really did have more to say than trite guff like “2 Become 1”.  They were not corporate puppets or pop muppets, they were riot grrrls with melodies.  There were three more albums but the moment had passed…we had missed our chance to have the pop stars we needed and, instead, got the ones we deserved.

There has to be room in your heart for things that float, shimmer, shine, sparkle and shimmy.  It can’t all be guitars and earnest boys with serious haircuts.  “Dirty Old Love Song”, “Viva La Megababes”, “Shiny Black Taxi Cab” and “Delicious” are pop gems that will convince you that the world isn’t such a dreadful place after all…how could it be with Jacqui and Carrie chanting “Shiny black, shiny black, shiny black taxi cab” in your ear ‘ole.

Viva la Megababes.

Viva Shampoo.


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