Introducing the band…

The Britpop years stretched from early Spring of 1992 with the arrival of Blur’s “Popscene” and ended, arguably, in the Spring of 1998 with the release of Pulp’s end of the party, comedown classic “This is Hardcore”.  During those six years there were more new bands, and new music from old bands, than you could shake, shake, shake to the trumpet…or something.

There were era defining singles and albums being released on an almost weekly basis, or at least that was how it seemed at the time, but the real joy lay in the number of brilliant debut albums that were released during the time…calling cards from bands who would go on to become household names or, sometimes, one off blasts of pop…magnesium flares of musical wonder.

Here then are the twenty-five best debut albums of the era as decided by…me.

You are very welcome.

First up numbers 25-21…

25. Shampoo – “We are Shampoo” (October, 1994)

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Dry your eyes.

“We Are Shampoo” took all the glitz, the glamour, the grime and the grimace of Britpop and put it into the bedrooms and onto the cassette players of tweenagers.  A thrilling mix of girl band fluff and riot grrrrl attitude their tales of (sub)urban normality make for genuinely exciting pop.  Crucially no other country in the world could ever have given rise to such a peculiar act.  Brit.  Pop.

Just listen to “Saddo” and tell me I’m wrong.

(Relationship status: UNKNOWN)

24. Salad – “Drink Me” (May, 1995)

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Weird and wonky in the very best ways.

Salad were interested in one thing and one thing only…being the band they wanted to be, the band they saw and heard in their own minds.  Musical fashions, hip influences, being on trend…no thank you very much.  Instead they crafted pop curios, songs from the fringes of their own imaginations.  Even now they don’t sound like anyone else.  Independent minds, free spirits and rebels with a cause.

(Relationship status: UNKNOWN)

23. Whiteout – “Bite It” (1995)

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The best band to come out of Greenock ever.  The best Scottish band of the Britpop era?  That’s trickier given the competition includes The Supernaturals.  What is easier is to suggest that Whiteout should have been a much bigger deal than they were.  They looked great, they sounded even better but, for reasons we might never know, it didn’t happen for them in the way that it should have.  “Bite It” is a cluster of seventies glam stompers that would leave Bolan and Visconti turn green with envy.  “No Time”, “Thirty-Eight”, “Detroit”, “Shine on You” and “Altogether” are songs to set your pulse racing.

(Relationship status: UNKNOWN)

22. Strangelove – “Time for the Rest of Your Life” (September, 1994)

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The witching hour, somebody had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world to themselves.

(“The BFG”, Roald Dahl, 1982)

Blending moments of gothic art-rock like the title track with pop peculiarities like “The Return of the Real Me” and experimental soundscapes like “Fire (Show me the Light)” makes this album from Bristolian beatnik boppers Strangelove a dark, difficult and delightful suite of songs quite unlike anything that anyone else during the Britpop years was doing.  This is the sound of the witching hour…dark things coming out from their hiding places and enjoying having the world to themselves.

Genius.

(Relationship status: UNKNOWN)

21. Denim – “Back in Denim” (1992)

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Pub rock.

Glam stomp.

Indie pop.

A blend of irony and innocence that takes the breath away.

“Back in Denim” is a lost classic.

From the Glitter Band pomp of the title track with its “Denim put the soul in your rock and roll” line to the bitter joys of “Middle of the Road” and its long list of hates and peeves; “I hate the Stones and I hate blues, Eddie Cochrane and Blue Suede Shoes…I hate Hooker, I hate Leadbelly…I hate funk and I hate soul…I hate riffs and guitar licks…I hate coke and I hate spliffs” this is all the evidence you need for declaring Lawrence Hayward a genius.

Yes, a genius.

You need more convincing?

Listen to “The Osmonds”.

(Relationship status: UNKNOWN)