The Britpop kids were spoilt for choice when it came to reading material.
Every week we had Melody Maker and the New Musical Express.
Every month we had VOX and, more importantly, Select.
Some people also enjoyed the novels of Irvine Welsh.
I’m not getting into that.
The thing I enjoyed reading the most was Select.
This may have something to do with the plethora of free stuff that used to adorn its front cover…on one memorable occasion the whole magazine came in a cereal box that was stuffed full of all manner of nonsense to thrill and delight its readers.
You think I’m making that up.
Here is what was inside…
Don’t listen to people who tell you that the nineties weren’t all that and that people like me are viewing things through rose tinted glasses, that we are nostalgia junkies…Corn Pops, a Beautiful South beer mat, some Jolly Ranchers, Twiglets and a chocolate chew bar.
We were living the dream my friends.
They were the best of times.
Back in April and May of 1994 Select contented themselves with giving us a free tape, loaded with some of the hottest and freshest new sounds in the country.
And a song from Chumbawamba.
The “Secret Tracks” tapes are lovely little snapshots of the music scene as a whole at the moment that Britpop was poised to dominate the cultural landscape. At this point the likes of “Parklife” and “Definitely Maybe” were at the gates of the pop castle…by the time the summer of 1994 was over they would have stormed them and taken control.
Tape one kicks off with the euphoric beats of The Shamen and their “Phorever People”. Phrankly I was never a phan of The Shamen, although I did like “Move Any Mountain” and the phact that they once had Jerry Sadowitz in a video always made me happy. The accompanying notes on this song from Mr C make phor phascinating reading;
“We think of the world as a global village…we are one nation and don’t forget we have telepathic communication.”
Bit weird that innit?
He sounds like David Cameron or Tony Blair doing an impression of what they think someone on ecstasy might sound like. Oh, wait…
“Somebody Snatched my Action” is classic Cud.
I’m not really sure what classic Cud is.
They have always been such a peculiar band.
Genuine mavericks and eccentrics.
At their very finest moments it is unbelievable that they didn’t ever manage to become a big deal. That could be down to the fact that they are almost impossible to pop in a box. A bit too slinky for the indie kids. A bit too indie for the cool kids. Not cool enough for Britpop. Too daft to be taken seriously. Too serious to enjoy the sort of cult adoration bestowed on the likes of Sultans of Ping.
I love them.
For all of those contrasts.
If somebody you don’t really know makes you a mix tape (CD) and they include Cypress Hill you can reach two conclusions…each as likely to be accurate as the other. Either they are really into smoking herbal cigarettes or they have reached that state of nirvana where the ability to appreciate hip-hop/rap for the genuinely radical musical revolution that it is.
I don’t smoke druglies.
But I really like Cypress Hill.
Raggatronics arrive in the shape of Danny Red and his “Rise Up”. Dub beats and reggae politics from the London based Jamaican who had been making music since the eighties at this point.
One of the greatest gifts my dad ever gave me was the introduction to Prince Buster which, in turn, led me to explore all sorts of other Jamaican music. The sheer number of incredible songs and artists who have come out of that nation is astonishing. From a place of excruciating poverty and oppression has come music of unity, revolution and dance floor stompers.
“My girlfriend says I need help, my boyfriend says I’d be better off dead.”
Lovely boys the Therapy gang.
I never got this or them.
A flicker of melody lurking, hiding, somewhere in the background but beaten into submission by the howl, wail and yelp of everything else that is going on.
Also, the growl instead of singing…nope.
I tend to find the whole thing, not only unlistenable, but hilarious…the way he says “THE KINVES” at the end of the track!
A remix of the theme from a Sadie Frost movie, “Shopping”, “Theme II” is given the Weatherall treatment for this exclusive track. It’s not a techno track or a dance song…it is an attempt, a good one I guess, at taking an existing piece of music and changing its form for a new purpose.
What a pretentious pillock.
Or the Sabres.
It’s a dark, slightly unsettling, piece of music which really only works in the context of a film score.
That is the end of side one.
No, I didn’t forget.
I’m just not writing about them.