Hello pop pickers and welcome to another trip down memory lane.
Forget your worries and cares about Brexit.
Forget about the fact that Susan in your office has been looking at you funny whenever you go to the loo.
Forget about the fact that your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend is watching a lot of documentaries about polyamory…which may or may not be connected to how Susan from accounting looks at you when you go to the loo, although your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend did spend a lot of time talking with them at the staff Christmas party.
It’s probably nothing.
April 13th 1996.
A time when a Brexit was just a rejected idea for a chocolate bar at Cadbury’s.
A time when the person writing this had a full head of hair.
A time when the front cover of one of the biggest selling music weeklies in the country featured…Louise bloody Wener, Catatonia, Dubstar and Ice flippin’ T.
Admittedly one of those is not Britpop but, come on, it’s Ice-T.
The inside front cover featured a full page ad for the forthcoming single from the Manic Street Preachers, a ditty called “A Design For Life”. This was the first single since the disappearance of Richey Edwards and it would be the song that propelled the Manics from balaclava clad Top of the Pops terrorists to genuine rock stars. Sadly it would also be the song that would catch the ear of boors up and down the country who liked the bit about getting drunk. Attending a Manics gig would no longer be a riot of leopard print and mascara but a more beige affair as the sorts of boys who would have bullied people like Richey when he was at school for being a “freak” latched onto the band for a few awful months.
In the news this week we discover that Blur will release a double live CD called “Live at Budokan” which had been recorded at said venue a year earlier. A copy from HMV would cost you £29.99…pricey back in 1996.
A new single will also be released, “Charmless Man”, on April 29th and it will feature three exclusive b-sides…”The Horrors”, “A Song” and “St Louis”.
More exciting than that is the news that The Bluetones will release a new double-a side single; “Cut Some Rug”/”Castle Rock”. This is, of course, excellent news because (a) The Bluetones are ace and (b) “Cut Some Rug” is ace too.
Definitely NOT Britpop is Luke Haines of The Auteurs.
He is so NOT Britpop that he once paid a musician NOT to appear on a Gene album.
That, my friends, is dedication to a cause.
The news tells us that The Auteurs are to play their last live shows (at least for some time) because Luke believes he has taken “…guitar music as far as it can go.”
Everybody knows that drugs are cool and to confirm that fact here are the Super Furry Animals with drug smuggler Howard Marks.
Oh, before you get to that…drugs are not cool.
Unless its people in movies.
I’m joking drugs are never cool.
Just say no.
Here are the Furries with some drugs bloke.
Boo Radley’s frontman Sice released a solo album.
“First Fruits” apparently.
Under the name of “Eggman”.
Because he was bald.
Shed Seven are on tour and they have a new single looming too…both excellent pieces of news.
Shed Seven are one of the best live bands to emerge from the era and that single, “Bully Boy”, was the first thing I ever sang in front of an audience.
Nailed it mate.
Thanks for asking.
That single was the fourth to be pulled from the album “A Maximum High”…
The week after this edition of Melody Maker they gave away a free 96 page book of classic interviews from their archives including Oasis, Blur, Manics, Suede and others.
I must have bought that copy and I must have had that book.
Does anyone still have it?
The newest kids on the Britpop block were Northern Uproar who were, in fact, Northern and did, indeed, enjoy creating an uproar.
At last year’s Star Shaped Festival they were still resolutely Northern and could, still, create an uproar.
Scandipop, Britpoppers, The Wannadies were about to release a new single called “You and Me Song”.
It was then, and remains now, a near perfect slice of guitar pop.
Romantic, funny, charming, warm, catchy, clever…
More pop perfection features in the live section with a review of Dubstar playing at the Pavilion in Brighton.
The chap reviewing the show really doesn’t like Dubstar.
“The first, most glaring problem, is that Dubstar have no songs” says the bold Bennun from behind his typewriter and, no doubt, wearing clothes from C&A.
Clearly David either has no ears or, and I suspect this to be more likely, he was trying to show the other boys in the office how cool he could be by being sniffy about pop music…especially pop music being made by a, yuk, GIRL!
David, poor David, like the eunuch in the harem…there every night, seeing it done every night but, crucially, incapable of actually doing it himself.
“I’m starting to feel the monotony of a tower block”, bloody Morrissey would have chopped off his thumbs to have written that.
Here is an advert for a new Sleeper single…
As I type that news reaches Mild Mannered Towers that Sleeper have scored a number one single (in the physical release chart) with their first new music since 1867…the single “Look at you Now” is a thing of wonder, you should go check it out.
Into the live pages now and what a week for live music this was.
Just look at that from a random night…
Ocean Colour Scene, Dodgy, Dubstar, Longpigs, Tiny Monroe, Northern Uproar, The Nubiles and SODA.
Speaking of SODA, and I never miss a chance to do exactly that, here is proof of their having visited my home town of Edinburgh…
The Maker was celebrating it’s 70th anniversary in 1996 and to get the party started they put on an evening of live music featuring Britpop faces like Catatonia, Kenickie and My Life Story.
Did anyone attend this evening of brilliant live music…and No Way Sis?
Shed Seven were on a nationwide tour with Mansun…which sounds like some kind of glorious dream but it did actually happen…no Scottish date on this ad but I’m sure I saw them, possibly sans Mansun, at around this time.
Did you go?
Please note that ALL tickets were SEVEN POUNDS.
Except London where it was eight pounds.
Imagine paying seven quid for anything now.
What a time it was to be alive!
If you made your way along to Chalk Road in Camden this week you could have caught Kenickie, 3 Colours Red, Earl Brutus, Marion and Kitchens of Distinction on any given night for no more than a fiver a ticket.
To see Marion.
Marion were also out on tour in April in support of their debut album “This World and Body”.
I have a feeling you might have the chance to see Marion this year…that isn’t something you should miss out on.
The Maker Shaker tour was looming and the four bands were all fringe players on the Britpop scene…Puressence, Coast, Bawl and the mighty The Gyres.
I was at the gig in Glasgow, I went on my own and used some of my student loan money to cover the cost of a FIVER for the ticket.
For four bands?
One of whom was responsible for THIS…
Here are the details for tours from Catatonia (supported by Space), The Longpigs and Ash (supported by 60ft Dolls, bis and Jocasta)
I haven’t ever really “got” Ash but the idea of seeing them along with 60ft Dolls AND bis on one night has made me come over all peculiar…especially as it would have cost me less than a tenner.
I don’t know why I didn’t go to this, they played Glasgow and I would have been in Paisley at that point…
I remember now.
I was in my digs crying and writing bad poetry for Tomasina Morgan, the pretty Irish girl on my course.
Time well spent.
One night I slept in her bedroom.
Not slept slept.
I slept on the floor at the foot of her bed after she had watched a horror film at a mutual friends house and asked me to spend the night because she was frightened.
Looking back she may not have been frightened and may, in fact, have been coming on to me.
The Phoenix Festival was a bit of a Britpop feast in 1996 with appearances from Gene, the Manics, Dodgy, Echobelly, Marion, The Cardigans, Lush, Shed Seven, bis, Catatonia, Elcka, 60ft Dolls, SODA, Super Furry Animals and No Way Sis…again.
The headline act on the Thursday was David Bowie…just think about that for a second.
A festival where you got to see all those Britpop lovelies AND David Bowie.
And the Sex Pistols played too.
And the Prodigy.
Best festival ever?
Don’t rush to an answer on that question about whether or not the Phoenix Festival was the best festival ever, because look at the line up or the “indie” day of the Essential ’96 Music Festival…
Echobelly, Lightning Seeds, Menswe@r, Marion, Northern Uproar, Super Furry Animals, bis, Catatonia, The Gyres, Strangelove, The Supernaturals, Ocean Colour Scene, Kula Shaker, My Life Story, David Devant and his Spirit Wife and Mantaray.
That, right there, is my dream Star Shaped line-up.
Imagine that…a two day Star Shaped that looked like this;
Patrick Duff (solo acoustic set)
Mantaray (playing “Some Pop”)
My Life Story
Kula Shaker (playing “K”)
Super Furry Animals
Marion (playing “This World and Body”)
David Devant and His Spirit Wife (playing “Work Lovelife Miscellaneous”)
Ocean Colour Scene
Can I put you down for two tickets?
The big interview of the week was with cover stars, Sleeper and, as ever when Louise Wener was involved with the music press, it was a treasure trove of quotes and attitude;
“We have a wit and cleverness that other bands could only dream of having”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is why you should be ecstatic about the return of Sleeper this year.
Need further proof?
Here is one more…
She’s a star.
One of the things I used to love about Melody Maker was their “Readers Charts”, where two readers would send in their own current ten favourite discs. This was a chance to show everyone how achingly cool you were…what I liked to do was to try and spot a potential girlfriend or best friend from the contributors.
This week there was a girl from Greece who may, or may not, have had a thirst for knowledge…
Dear Ana “Gorgeous” Ingelius,
I have been reading your readers chart contribution from the Melody Maker in April 1996 and I wanted to ask if you would like to marry me?
I couldn’t ever love someone who picked two songs by the same band/artist on a list like this!
You get ten songs and you use two of those on one band?
Look, Ana, I love Pulp.
I would happily listen to a top ten of your favourite Pulp tracks but a top ten should be ten different bands.
And none of them should be Mick Harvey.
Or anything with “Trance” in the name of either the band or the song.
You blew it.
The second readers choice comes from Simon “Britpop” Rothstein from Essex.
This is more like it.
Does anyone know Simon?
I bet he’d love this site.
Unless he is one of those awful bores who like to run down the things they used to love because…they are arseholes.
You know the sort.
Let’s find Simon and find out.
Welsh wonders Catatonia are the focus of a short interview…the second band fronted by a female which, I think, suggests that there was more to Britpop than just “lads” having “banter”.
Next up it is the singles reviews…and it starts with someone who clearly has no love for cheeky Northern scamps, Northern Uproar…
No more positive words for the madness, and I mean that as a compliment of the highest sort, of Strangelove with “Living with the Human Machines” which tells us that the critic responsible is…an insufferable arse.
The third slab of Britpop single this week was “Goldfinger” by Ash…which this very clever writer reviews by referencing a novel which is evidence of their being…an insufferable arse.
The penultimate piece of Britpoppery in this edition of Melody Maker is an ad for Laxton’s Superb…another of the great “lost” bands of the era. They were on tour and had a new single out; “Coming Round”
All of which leads us to the back cover and this full page ad for Ocean Colour Scene’s “Moseley Shoals” and their tour…
Which provides as good a reason as any to listen to this…