Secret Tracks – Select Magazine April/May, 1994 (Part Two)

 

Ah Britpop.

Xenophobia.

Jingoism.

Outright racism.

Sexism.

Dad rock.

Lad culture.

Boo!

Hiss!

“All Grown Up” by The Weekenders inspired the ERG.

NAZIS!

Sorry.

I am trying to get a gig writing for The Guardian and thought I might have to change my approach a bit.

The only problem with the sneering, postmodernist, more liberal than thou view of Britpop as espoused by the “good” people at Guardian towers is when someone like Brett Anderson writes a song like “The Living Dead” which, in his words, “…charts the demise of a junkie.”

That this song was a mere B-Side suggests that either Suede were poorly advised or that they really were, and remain, one of the finest British bands of all time.  This is a song of such beauty, such stark sensitivity and romance that it is a wonder it wasn’t hailed as the end of music…how could it ever be bested?  The answer to that was provided by Suede themselves as they bested it over and over again.  Remarkable.

Because these are “secret” tracks this is the, at that point, unreleased piano version of the song.  Recorded in Bernard Butler’s bedroom on a four-track it is a fascinating glimpse into the Suede world at a time when they were dreamers, plotters, architects of their future.  Fragile, delicate and heart breaking.

“Techno has no limits.  It can express anything.  It’s not just bleeps you know.”

So said Sean of techno collective Flash Action when discussing their track “Repoman”.

The track is, of course, inspired by the cult film of the same name and one can imagine, quite easily, scenes from the film making up a video for the song.  Something about the futility and hopelessness of the character’s lives is to be found in the “…not just bleeps” of the song.

Not really my cuppa sugary tea.

More loops, beats, breaks and samples lie in store with the next track from Renegade Soundwave…”Positive ID”.

A love song of sorts.

This is the sound of the end of the night, the end of the party…the hazy comedown after the exciting highs of the evening.

I can’t hear things like this without thinking of Michael Smiley in “Spaced”.

Everyday raving.

Credit to the Nation are up next with their rumination on fame; “Pressure”.

It is, as you would expect, magnificent.

A wonderful blend of Soul II Soul beats and the roar of the, still, nascent UK rap scene.

Listening to the sample of Matty Hanson talking to John Peel at the start of the track is, so many years after Peel’s death, a terrifying reminder of the transient nature of our existence and on the fragility of fame itself.

Before he decided to dominate the music scene with his radio friendly “Play” album Moby was a maverick, outsider, figure…a complex and confusing character who inspired derision and devotion in almost equal parts.

That conflict can be explained with this quote from the man himself on this track;

“It’s exploring, in a strange way, the dialectic of unrealised desire.”

Uh-huh.

Right.

The “dialectic of unrealised desire”…a phrase guaranteed to have some people calling for your head on a silver platter while, at the same time, have others stroking their beards, grabbing their copies of Derrida and hailing you a visionary composer.

Horses for courses innit.

To my ears it’s like listening to Enya at the wrong speed…muzak for the jilted generation.

Then there is Bjork.

A bona fide genius.

Bowie in Icelandic form.

Constantly pushing buttons and letting the pressure drop.

A pop star who is actually an experimental performance artist.

Like Yoko Ono but with proper songs.

This Basso Hitto remix of “Violently Happy” comes over like a night in a pioneering jazz-fusion club but, incredibly, doesn’t provoke the sort of murderous rage one might expect.

That’s because it’s Bjork.

The closing track comes from Brighton sort of Britpoppers Sharkboy and “My Star”.

With a sort of shoegaze vibe, sleepy, dreamy, vocals from singer Avy and shimmering, twinkling guitars this is the sort of thing that should have given the band some sort of following and acted as an introduction to the inner-circle of Britpop…but, much like Tiny Monroe…they, instead, disappeared without anyone ever really noticing they had arrived.

It is strange to look at the tracks featured here and see quite how much dance, trance, hip hop and the rest is included.  Only Suede and Sharkboy could really be classed as being Britpop despite the fact that Britpop was all anyone was really talking about.  What I love about this collection is the fact that it acts as a reminder of how much else was going on in other genres…things I was listening to and buying that I had long forgotten.  It’s lovely to have a mix tape that caters to your musical obsessions but there is a real joy in being confronted with something new.

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