Tagged: rock

Adventures In Britpop

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I recently got back from a holiday on which I had my normal book binge, to the extent that my Kindle melted (though that’s another story). One of the books I read was the autobiography of Louise Wener, former singer with Britpop band Sleeper.

Reading a book that charts the course of the Britpop explosion seemed rather apt seeing as everyone seems to have decided that this year is the 20th anniversary of Britpop (presumably based on the fact that both Definitely Maybe and Parklife were released in 1994). Wener’s book includes references to blur, Oasis and a host of other players in that scene, both big and small, with plenty of dirt, gossip and snide asides chucked in for good measure. It also details the undoubted sexism that pervaded much of the music industry, and probably still does.

In the book Wener seems to hold a bit of a grudge against blur because they’re arrogant and won’t let her band share blur’s rider when they support them on the Parklife tour. That wouldn’t surprise me – Damon has always come across as pretty arrogant whilst anyone who has read Alex James’ own incredibly entertaining autobiography will know that they were at the centre of a whirlwind that would send most people slightly mad.

Of course, it was probably supporting blur on that tour that helped Sleeper break in to the big-time. And it’s also pretty certain that no-one was likely to base the birth of Britpop on the year when any of Sleeper’s records came out*. Because, what the book never really admits, is that the reason that the likes of blur did better than Sleeper is because Sleeper were basically shit. With one hit single**.

Despite that, it’s a good read for anyone who lived through that time and was as in love with much of the music as I was. If you do want entertaining books by people who also actually managed to make more than one good record, I’d also recommend the previously mentioned Bit Of A Blur by Alex James and the painfully honest Telling Stories by Tim Burgess of The Charlatans.

If you’d rather just have an aural trip down memory lane, I’d recommend these two playlists – one a BBC 6 Music Best of Britpop, the other one I put together myself taking in some of the best tracks from 1994.

*If anything I would suggest that it was 1993, the year Suede by Suede and Modern Life Is Rubbish by blur both came out as I’d argue that Definitely Maybe isn’t really a Britpop record at all.
**They actually had 6 that cracked the top 30, but Inbetweener is the only one that has held any charm.

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I Hate Videos

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Whatever you may think of his music, and I am a massive fan who lost faith in them, it’s hard to deny that Noel Gallagher is one of the most intelligent and funniest musicians out there. His music may be dull but he rarely is.

As if to highlight these two facts some bright spark has collated the best commentary from a DVD collection of all of Oasis’ videos and it makes for hugely entertaining videos. If you haven’t seen it yet I can’t recommend highly it highly enough. I’ve watched it about 5 times now and it still makes me laugh.

Whilst his proclamation that no-one watches videos any more is as mistaken* as his views on hip-hop at Glastonbury, the rest of it is funny, honest and true. Some of my favourite lines include:

I look like…Columbo

Is that how easy this is? You just go and randomly suggest nonsense and people go and film it?

The missus wouldn’t let you do a video like that now would she?

Look how pissed I am there. That’s me really pissed.

It is a good song to jump up and down to, drunk.

That wasn’t an actual record player by the way and that’s not a real clown.

Do you want me to..stare at you like a…serial killer?

This is fucking nonsense

Look at the size of Bonehead’s shirt, that’s…insane

Is that Phil Mitchell?

If you need four guys to walk around in slow motion…we were the best at that.

So there’s a death in the video, that’s nice.

If anyone’s listening to this at home you’d probably be advised to go and mow the garden because this goes on for ages. And ages.

They are really ill-fitting suits aren’t they?

Robbie Williams based his entire…career on this song.

Is that a man with legs made of sausages?!

Why didn’t somebody…stop me at that point and say you need to go on a holiday?

That’s supposed to be a space-ship taking off, it looks like a load of scaffolding sinking.

Can we listen to this with the sound down?

Walking and playing is basically what (we) do. And standing still. And look bored.

I fucking hate this next tune, I really fucking hate it.

That last comment is followed by a sigh of such disgust that it really had to be heard to be believed. Just like Karl Pilkington was always the best thing about Ricky Gervais’ radio shows so it seems that the best things about Oasis’ videos is the man who starred in them all slagging them off.

*The video of him talking about videos has already notched up nearly 225,000 views whilst the likes of Sy, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga would probably have something to say about whether or not anyone watches videos any more.

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Don’t Settle For Walkin’, Just Do It

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So, a brief follow-up to yesterday’s rant. As if we were ever in any doubt, considering the fact that he stopped A Tribe Called Quest making any money from their most successful track, it seems that Lou Reed was also willing to sample his own work for ads.

Not only that, he even starred in an ad. And it’s really quite good.

Apparently, according to a book quoted in AdAge, this Lou Reed ad was to lead, ultimately, to W&K winning the Nike Michael Jordan business…

[W&K] came up with something quite original, an offbeat, grainy commercial showing Lou Reed on his Honda, cut to his song “Walk on the Wild Side.” It was tough to say whether it was shot by the most skilled professional or the rankest amateur, but it was hip and oddly compelling, in part because the scooter message was pitched only at the last minute.

And that led to this..

Which, one could argue, helped set both companies on the trajectory to where they are today. Not a bad achievement for Reed, to rank alongisde the (actually quite reasonable claim) that he was responsible for the most influential album in rock history:

it’s hard to think of another record that altered the sound and vocabulary of rock so dramatically, that shifted its parameters so far at a stroke.

But wait, hang on a second, what did Whoopee Goldberg think again?

 

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Tune Of The Day: Faith No More – Easy (Commodores Cover)

Because today’s Sunday.

Because it was a totally left-field cover for Faith No More, probably the biggest alternative rock band around when they released it (the Red Hot Chili Peppers of their day, even though the Chilis were around at the time.)

Because the original version of Easy, by Lionel Richie’s Commodores, was used in an ad for a bank in the 80s (below) which made me want to live in a loft, with a cat. Quite possibly the only cool bank ad ever made.

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Tune Of The Day: Big Star – Thirteen

I first heard of Big Star when every music journalist in the UK was using them as the barometer to describe the direction that Teenage Fanclub took with Bandwagonesque (which beat Nirvana’s Nevermind & Primal Scream’s Screamadelica in many end of year best-of lists). At the time I hadn’t a clue who Big Star were, and never bothered to find out till a few years ago.

Thirteen is the title track off of Big Star’s debut album, and if you’ve never heard it, boy have you got a treat in store. My favourite line from the song is this one:

Won’t you tell your dad, “Get off my back”
Tell him what we said ’bout ‘Paint It Black’

As to why the song is so wonderful, I’ll leave it to the more eloquent souls at Rolling Stonbe and Allmusic, who had this to say about it, respectively:

[Thirteen is] one of rock’s most beautiful celebrations of adolescence.

and

There are few songs that capture the aching innocence of adolescence as well. [It is a] perfect melancholy ballad

So, there you have it. Enjoy.

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My Marmalade: Suede – My Dark Star

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So, a new year, another attempt to get more out of my blog. A while back I went for playing shuffle on the iPod. This time I’m taking my direction from start-up This Is My Jam which, though a service I like, I don’t really click with totally.

You’re only meant took use it once a week and it creates yet another social profile (see the unofficial title of this blog). Anyway, that’s why I’m going to try to post a jam, or marmalade, every day. Probably without much commentary, to make it likelier that I actually do it.

To start, Suede b-side My Dark Star; I’m having one of my frequent 90s indie nostalgia sessions at the moment.
Photo by iglooo101 on flickr

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