“Even their illustrious forefathers allowed themselves a few initial fumbles before hitting that swaggering stride, but ‘Supersonic’ is a paragon of pop virtue in a debut single: three or so minutes of laid-back urgency, generously appointed with at least four melodies, and fizzing with enough attitude to silt up the orifice of your choice. Milkmen will whistle it, impressionable youths will play air guitar to its swooping, stalking riffs, while fading twenty-somethings who remember with fondness something called ‘baggy’ will find themselves lapsing into the Dance Of The Tired And Emotional Baboon. Obviously, in the wrong hands this record is a potent weapon.”
(Keith Cameron, NME, 1994)
“I need to be myself, I can’t be no one else”
Really that was all that was needed.
An opening line so confident, so assured, so cocky and cocksure and yet so insecure and questioning…it is, and let us not beat about the foliage at the end of the garden here, the greatest opening line to a rock and roll record ever.
Seven years after “Supersonic” was released New York hip-cats from the mean streets of…well, Swiss finishing schools actually…The Strokes released a fantastic album called “Is This It?” The answer to that question was left up to the listener but with “Supersonic” there was no question, this was a band saying, clearly, THIS is IT.
The IT was very easy to identify.
IT = THEM.
Them was the greatest rock and roll band of their generation and, for the kids of that generation, the greatest rock and roll band ever.
The Stone Roses had talked the talk and delivered one of the greatest debut albums of all time five years earlier but then had disappeared in a fug of coke, record label wrangles, self-doubt, writers block, personality clashes and goodness knows what else.
The world was waiting.
The indie kids had found Suede.
The slightly hipper, art school, kids had found Blur.
The misfits had Pulp.
But there was an entire generation of kids who had known nothing but tinny pop, the American howl of grunge and the bleeps of techno who, perhaps unknowingly, were waiting for a band who would speak to them, who would inspire them and who would give them something to believe in…and after the lean, at best, years of the Thatcher government having something to believe in was rare.
Then this happened…
Nothing would ever be the same again.
Overnight kids in Hulme and Hackney had a new favourite band.
The faux misery of grunge, the over produced pop that cluttered the charts, the mournful strains of shoegaze…all of it kicked, violently, into touch and replaced with the most authentic, genuine, force of fire and fury that pop music had seen in a generation.
Gin and tonic.
Sittin’ in a corner all alone.
Livin’ under a waterfall.
A year before this Nirvana were the biggest band in the world, you couldn’t move for kids with terrible hair and even worse clothes, dragging themselves along the high streets of the country listening to a song called “I Hate Myself And I Want to Die”.
I hate myself.
I want to die.
I get it.
Depression, teenage angst, misery, loneliness, isolation, fear, panic, paranoia…life is hard sometimes for some people.
I’ve been there.
I’m not sure I’ve ever left.
Sometimes you want to hear people talk to you in a language you understand, there is solace in the company of strangers.
But there was no hope in Nirvana.
I hate myself.
I want to die.
I don’t want that.
I want to feel SUPER-BLOODY-SONIC.
I don’t want to hear Kurt Cobain wailing about runny yolks and runny noses.
I want to hear nonsense about a girl called Elsa.
That is the truth of the Oasis moment.
In one moment they kicked out the jams of misery and hopelessness and replaced them with soaring riffs, nonsense lyrics, hope, aspiration, swagger and dreams…and it was magnificent.
“Supersonic” started the march towards something better.
A rock and roll record that changed an entire generation…and an entire country.
How we need a record like that now.