Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did you come to destroy us? I know who You are – the Holy One of God!”
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!”
(Mark, 1:23-25, New King James Bible)
“The power of Christ compels you!”
(Father Merrin, “The Exorcist”, 1973)
The time has come to cast out the unclean things from among us.
No longer can we allow our spirits to be troubled.
The Unholy Trinity must be exorcised.
“Wake Up Boo!”
(The Boo Radleys, 27/2/95)
Deciding to show the world how easy it is to write a hit single is a bold move and one which only a genuinely gifted songwriter could pull off.
Martin Carr is exactly that.
The problem here is that Carr wrote a hit single that was so infuriatingly catchy that it went beyond pop masterclass and into the realms of irritant.
This is Britpop for people who think that Chris Evans was the champion of the scene.
This is Britpop for people who don’t actually like Britpop.
This is what Britpop means to your mum.
This is what Britpop means to Chris Evans.
It seems utterly inoffensive on first listen.
A nice song about sunshine, summer, being young and seizing the day.
Yet it is that exact inoffensiveness that makes it, almost relentlessly, offensive.
It sounds like something that scientists would come up with by melding certain key elements from other songs from the era…it’s all there; the brass, the positive message, the Englishness. And yet it feels sterile.
What is so damned sad about this is that the Boo Radleys had so many genuinely wonderful moments…”Wish I Was Skinny” is a magnificent record…and “Giant Steps” is a work of genius…but by reaching for the stars, by trying to climb every mountain and when looking to have that rainbow shining over us, they succeeded only in creating a record that borders on being one of those hideous charity fundraising novelty hits.
It is a song that has me reaching for the off button within seconds of it beginning.
It is directly responsible for Brexit/Trump/Corbyn/May (delete according to your political/moral preference) and it should be consigned to the dustbin of pop immediately.
That about sums it up, no?
This is the pinnacle of Damon Albarn’s mockneyism.
It is one thing to write, and perform, in character but this…
Like “Wake up Boo!” it has become synonymous with the era and that, to my eyes (and ears), is a terrible shame. As with “Wake up Boo!” it also seems like a fairly deliberate effort on the part of Albarn to write something that he knew the likes of Chris Evans would play…and he was right. It was the sound of the summer in 1994. Blaring from radios on the sets of various soap operas, polluting high streets from white vans, drunkenly bellowed in your ear on the way home from the pub, “wacky” dancing at the indie disco…welcome to Hell.
Incredibly one of the finest bands of their generation…of any generation…had not peaked in plumbing the depths, worse was to follow.
The absolute nadir.
The worst song of the era.
The moment when you realised that your idols had feet of clay.
Arriving almost exactly a year after “Parklife” which had given me just enough time to forgive them for that horror, “Country House” was, you will remember, the single that went toe-to-toe, head-to-head, mano et mano, with “Roll With It” in the battle of Britpop.
Two of the biggest bands in the country in a battle for chart dominance.
Two of the most important bands in British pop music history.
Two of the most dreadful records in their catalogue.
Truthfully though “Country House” is so awful that it makes “Roll With It” sound like “2 Become 1” in comparison.
I don’t care what you think.
“2 Become 1” is a pop classic…and is superior, in every way, to either of these lumpen (at best), turgid, soulless, dirges.
No. I’m not joking…or trying to provoke you.
Facts is facts.
The real agony of “Country House” is, of course, the video directed by Damien Hirst and which manages to make Benny Hill look like the work of Nam June Paik. That’s right, this video elevates the work of a comedian who, even in his pomp was considered old fashioned and sexist, to the realms of high art.
It’s as if everyone involved suffered a collective madness…folie a deux.
Here you had a band who had now crafted two classic albums working with an artist who had revolutionised the art world and between them they created this…
It’s worse than you remember, right?
So, to the Gods of Britpop I offer this plea.
You may, of course, disagree or wish to add other names to this Unholy Trinity.
Let me know on Twitter @MildManneredMax.