There are few things in life that bring quite as much pleasure, so much happiness and such a jolt to your heart as finding records you once cherished and then discarded because you thought an mp3 was more convenient.
As if music should be convenient.
Music should be almost anything but convenient.
It should be thrilling.
It should be a delight.
It should, if it’s ever going to be worth anything to you, the result of a little bit of work…
D’ya know what I mean?
Clicking a button on your phone or tablet and having the music instantly isn’t pleasurable.
Not when you think of how much more wondrous music becomes when you have had to wend your way to a dusty, potentially dingy, record shop and then spend long minutes thumbing your way through crates and drawers filled with L.Ps and singles before stumbling upon a song that you owned when you not only had hair but a life too.
Oh the rush…the dizzying, mesmerising rush of that moment.
When you can atone for the sin of discarding such a treasure and find forgiveness in purchase.
I found myself in Elvis Shakespeare in Edinburgh yesterday. A lovely little shop filled with music and books. They had decided to clear a bit of space in the basement and their were boxes of records piled around the store. I took a half look in one and realised it was housing only the sorts of things you find in most second hand shops. Bit of Shirley Bassey. Couple of Tom Jones albums. One or two of those Top of The Pops compilations.
Then I found a pile of CD singles lying on top of some metal drawers.
I say “found” but I think I was led to them by a power greater than my own consciousness. The spirit of Britpop knew I was there and impressed upon my heart that I should investigate each of these drawers with great care.
I didn’t know why but I knew I had to act on the guidance of this supernatural force.
I’m grateful now that I was obedient and proved myself a good Britpop disciple.
What rewards were made mine.
Let’s take a look shall we?
“If…”, “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, “Autophilloa…” and “Marblehead Johnson” by The Bluetones.
I’ve written extensively about The ‘Tones since launching The Mild Mannered Army and you might think there is nothing new for me to say.
You’re very wrong.
These four singles brilliantly capture the, well, brilliance of one of the most brilliant bands in British pop history…in a quite brilliant way.
At the time that each of these were released I owned them all on seven inch vinyl. Where did they go these lovelies? I don’t know. I really don’t. I felt so happy to be able to hold physical copies of them again.
Especially “Keep the Home Fires Burning” because it is, as we all agree, the finest single released by a British band.
A broken case.
Enough about me.
“The Universal” is a magnificent single. Aside from “For Tomorrow” and “Chemical World” it is my favourite blur single. In part that is because of the terrific “A Clockwork Orange” homage video…a video so brilliant it nearly extinguished the flame of rage that is ignited within me every time I see the “Country House” video.
Tim Booth taking a gap year from James spent some time working with Angelo Badalementi…the fruits of that were one album and this epic slice of soaring orchestral pop. “I Believe” is a really beautiful thing. No collection should be without it. Now mine is not.
Dodgy. Tunes. Melodies. Choruses that were catchier than chickenpox in a nursery. The sound of the seemingly never ending summer that broke over Britain in 1994 and didn’t stop until 1997. Lovely.
When I first heard “We Could Be Kings” and the line “It’s time to tell my friends I love them…”, I did exactly that.
I called everyone I could truthfully call a friend and told them that I loved them.
It didn’t take long…I’m sure you can imagine the near monastic nature of my solitude as a young man. And as an old man.
Almost too good.
The only thing I actually owned by Kenickie was “Nightlife” which was released a year after “Punka”. I think the fact that they came from Sunderland made them seem exotic to me at the time.
Then I went to Sunderland and realised it must have been something else.
Well you can say what you like.
It would change a thing.
I’ll feel the same about K.
I love (present tense cats) Kula Shaker.
Here we have “Mystical Machine Gun”, “Hey Dude” and “Tattva” all three of which made my tummy flip when I first heard them and which made my heart make a bid to escape my chest when I found them yesterday.
I can’t say too much about The Longpigs because I intend to write a piece on them but suffice to say that when I first heard “Jesus Christ” on one of those free cassettes that came with the N.M.E I knew I’d heard something special. This single, “Lost Myself” confirmed that assumption.
Some of you may be reading this and be resident in the United Kingdom…if you are then you will live somewhere within a few hours of London, Manchester or Glasgow.
That means you can make it to one of the Star Shaped festival dates in September. There are very many reasons to attend. But if you want one…one that will drag the money from your wallet to buy the tickets…here it is.
“Sparkle” by My Life Story.
Playing at the festival and one of the finest purveyors of pristine pop on this little island.
Weep with joy.
Give thanks to Jake Shillingford.
Then drop me a DM on Twitter to thank me.
You’re already welcome.
“Some Might Say” (with three of the greatest b-sides in rock and roll history…Just ask @OasisPodcast on Twitter, he’ll tell ya), “Go Let it Out”, “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” and “Be Here Now”.
Three fabulous singles.
One cocaine infused blast of pure rock and roll bombast.
What more do you want from a band?
Mod target? Check.
Coastal location a la Brighton beach? Check.
Red, white and blue in evidence? Check.
Mod-ley crew Ocean Colour Scene are also at Star Shaped this year and they will play “The Day We Caught the Train” which would be worth the price of the ticket alone.
It’s an era defining single this and if you don’t like it…I don’t like you.
I don’t remember this single from Rialto but it has the French version of “Monday Morning 5:19” as a b-side so why wouldn’t you buy it?
The Seahorses got a lot of attention because of their lead guitarist.
What is interesting now though is that it is Chris Helme and that voice that is the thing that brings you back to songs like “Love is the Law” and “Blinded by the Sun”. It’s a remarkable thing…rich and warm and with an ability to make you feel.
Another face at Star Shaped and another great reason to go.
Two singles from Shed Seven.
Could be any two.
They were all brilliant.
“Speakeasy” is home to another great b-side…”Around Your House”, which could have been a number one for anyone else.
You all own this of course.
So do I.
It contains FIVE of the best and best known songs of the nineties.
“Sale of the Century”, “What do I do Now?”, “Statuesque”, “Nice Guy Eddie” and “Lie Detector”.
Hands up who is excited about the upcoming new album?
The dark heart of Britpop…Strangelove and one of their last singles; “Freak”.
Should have been massive.
Like R.E.M massive.
It’s a crime that they never were.
Whoever is responsible should be hung by their pretty white neck until they are very dead indeed.
Was it you?
Did you buy their records?
Well…make amends now.
Listen to anything and then come back and tell me how sorry you are.
I forgive you.
Look at this sleeve for “We Are the Pigs” carefully.
In 1994 ASDA were selling singles by Britpop royalty.
With slightly disconcerting cover art.
Now it’s just Susan Boyle albums and Olly Murs t-shirts.
England my England.
What has happened to thee?
Better than alright.
Approaching genius…occasionally reaching it.
This was the moment when they did.
“Max…who are the best Britpop band?”
The answer is ALL OF THEM.
But Thurman would be in my top five.
Oasis supported THEM.
The Greenock boys should have been rock and roll stars but…it just never took off for them like what it oughta shoulda.
This single, “Detroit”, and “No Time” were as good as anything anyone else was doing. Why didn’t it happen?
My guess is that it will be a sadly familiar tale of timing, management and label disinterest.
A genuine shame.
And that, my darling hearts, is the best tenner I’ve ever spent.