It all seems so long ago.
It was a long time ago.
We were younger then.
We are older now.
Look at you now.
Don’t look at me.
Don’t look back in anger.
Look back with misty eyes and a quickening of the beat-beat-beat of your heart.
Them was giddy days.
2019 has brought Britpop into our lives in a variety of ways; gigs, festivals, new albums, books and here at the Mild Mannered Army we have covered it all and more. So here, for you, is the year in Britpop…part two.
February started with a look back on one of the best albums of the nineties and, arguably, one of the best albums from a Scottish band ever, “Further” by Geneva.
You can read my thoughts on the album here…
Cup of Tea Put a Record On…#4 Geneva “Further”
“The moment Andrew Montgomery opened his mouth I felt sure that there was something sublime in the world. Something beautiful. Something better. Something better than me. Something worth my time. Something that could help me. Something that could make things better.”
“Further” by Geneva would loom large across the world of Britpop throughout the year…something we will turn our attention to as we progress through this trip down memory lane. As well as revisiting the album I also had the chance to see Geneva play live for the first time in…too many years at the Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh.
“As they emerge from whatever passes for a dressing room a roar, a cheer, a cry goes up from the two hundred or so fans, friends and family members who are crammed into the narrow confines of one of the smallest venues in Edinburgh that is loud enough to transform the place into the Barrowlands.
Then it begins.
“No One Speaks” is note perfect.
They sound bold, energised, ambitious, confident and strong.
The passing of time, the distance that once existed between them and the lives they have all led in the nineteen years since they last did this are all erased.”
You can read the full review here…
Geneva – The Wee Red Bar
Parts 4-7 of my look over the music mentioned by Louise Wener in her memoir, “Just For One Day” dropped” in February and included my thoughts on the likes of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees”;
I am sure that “Fake Plastic Trees” is very clever and that the watering can, the polystyrene man and the fake plastic earth are all metaphors for the suffering of mankind or something but, honestly, it is all delivered with such a roar of indifference that I don’t know why anyone cares.
Robbie Williams “Angels”;
Interestingly I would rather be abducted by aliens and spend the next few millenia being probed in various orifices than listen to this dirge.
I know that’s not a particularly original position to take when it comes to “Angels” but it is true nonetheless. It really is a hideous song.
A love song for people who haven’t ever been in love.
Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”;
A feminist anthem…by feminist I mean the sort who are interested in the battle for equality of opportunity for women and not the slightly peculiar T.E.R.F’s and Intersectional Feminists who seem to have hijacked the debate over women’s rights to such an extent that women’s rights could well be attacked and, possibly, erased.
You can read all of that and more here;
A second single from the soon to be released new album from Wener and company arrived in the shape of “The Sun Also Rises” which was, if anything, even better than “Look At You Now”…and that really is saying something because that had instantly become my favourite Sleeper single ever when it was released.
In amongst all the nostalgia and the rose tinted views of the nineties their lurks something much darker and something much more challenging.
It does no good to deny that the era and the scene we all remember as the best days of our lives had big problems when it came to gender, sex, race and boorishness.
Despite those problems though I think we can still take some comfort, and maybe a little pride, in some of the good that came from the time;
What Britpop managed to do though, despite these missteps, was to introduce voices into the mainstream who would, slowly, change the way things were viewed and discussed. No matter what The Guardian would have you believe, Britpop was a varied and vastly more representative pop culture movement/moment than most that had come before. Louise Wener, Justine Frischmann, Sonya Madan, Lauren Laverne, Cerys Matthews, Skin, Anjali Bhatia, Tjinder Singh, Gary Cosby, Debbie Smith and others pushed women, LGBT voices and people of colour into the previously anodyne world of “indie”. Voices that had been conspicuous by their absence prior to this point.
Nick Amies and I released a new episode of the podcast in February that cast a loving and critical eye over the debut album from Suede.
While Blur and Oasis may define the nineties UK music scene for many, for those of us of a more fragile, febrile and foppish nature found much to marvel at and wonder over in the music and lyrics of Suede. Right from the very beginning they seemed…separate, distant, aloof and yet, simultaneously, they opened their arms to those of us in need of companionship and understanding.
I started my look back over the singles of Blur this month too.
Not an easy task for a number of reasons…the number of records involved, the fact that I love Blur but that there are several of their singles I loathe being two of the difficulties I faced with this task. A task, it is worth pointing out, that I brought upon myself. Nobody asked me to do it…why would they?
That Blur decided to go with “Country House” for their contribution to this nonsense suggested that either Damon Albarn had gone mad or that people really were taking a huge amount of cocaine in the nineties…because, and let us not beat around the pop bush here, “Country House” is utter rubbish.