Saturday, 25 June 2011

I'm still haunted by you ................ Gene

Gene........... Now heres a band that was misunderstood !!!

And i don't know why because from what i am listening to right now  they always shined with PoP goodness, swirly hammonds and guitar hooks that can kill. Gene knew how to write a fantastic pop song "Be my light, be my guide, haunted by you, For the dead, Fighting fit"...the list could go on and on...

So The good old NME (Sic) always touted them as Smiths wannabes .But i always found myself listening to Gene more than The smiths. Don't get me wrong, the Smiths are fantastic, but for me Gene had something else to bring to the table. I was a bit late to get in to Gene, well i say late my first encounter with them was when they released "Sleep well tonight" which was only their 3rd single. Then they released "Haunted by you" which is still in my top 10 Britpop singles of all time. They had everything that a band should, a lead singer that all the girls could swoon over, Guitar riff's aplenty for all the blokes and Songs that would switch from Ballads to rock.
Spanning 5 Studio albums and 14 singles, Gene had a great career with a fantastic fan base and some critical success. But in 2004 they split after deciding that that had done all that they could. I always thought it was a shame that they never got the recognition that they deserved, don't get me wrong there was a few years that Gene were on the covers of all the regular music magazines and on TV but nothing as big as i thought they deserved!.
Just go and listen to their Debut album "Olympian", every song is a bonafied classic.

Like i have said in previous posts about albums taking me back to a certain place in time, Olympian also does this. When i have a listen nowadays I'm taken back to that hot summer in 1995, i had just arrived home from the Glastonbury festival and i couldn't sleep for the fact that i had just spent 4 days sleeping on the grass in a tent. For those few nights afterwards the only way i could sleep was to put my pillow on the floor and drift away to Olympian on my headphones.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

We'll all go down in history ......... Whiteout

Our price, Coloured 7" vinyl , NME, Select magazine and Melody maker.......... THAT was my 90's

And so were Whiteout, They were one of the only bands that i never got to see and will never get to either. If i was to make a Britpop mix tape Whiteout would be on it around 4 times. With tracks like Jackie's racing, No time, Cousin Jane and Altogether they were one of the bands that defined Britpop for me.

Once again i found myself one rainy Saturday afternoon tuning in to The chart show on Itv because this week was the Indie chart. And along comes Whiteout with their new single Jackie's racing with its country overtones and hugely infectious chorus, and i couldn't resist. It was down to our price straight away for me. I remember the sales person behind the counter  said that i really must have really been into my music if ive heard of Whiteout! So with the thought of being a bit of a muso and having a fresh copy of the Jackie's racing single firmly in hand i headed back home to play it to death. And what a fantastic single was and still is, just check out the song Cousin Jane.

Even though Whiteout were short lived they did produce one of the definitive Britpop albums from my point of view. From the opening track Thirty eight all the way through to Untitled the album Bite It was a breath of fresh air with an album cover that i will never forget ( i always liked munchies!! ). They were the second band to be signed to the Silvertone label after the Stone roses releasing 7 singles and 2 albums. The last album to be released was called "Big wow" when we now find the band as a 3 piece after singer Andrew Caldwell left. The album was 3 years in the making and for me it was well worth it!.

On my 1st listen of "Big wow" i had a feeling that they were ready to split after listening to the closing track Back where i used to be. For some reason it was one of those songs that sounded like a goodbye song!
And in 1998 they split and was the end of the band and for me signalled the end of Britpop.

Oh! and if any of the so called Indie bands of today want to actually write a good song for once just take a listen to the track "Running for cover" on Big Wow to see how it should be done !!.

They sang about going down in history and for many people like my they really have.


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Strap-on Sally chased us down the alley ............. The Seahorses

So its 1996 and ive just listened to The Stone roses Play The Reading festival without John squire. He had quit months earlier along with Reni and what i was listening to was the worst performance i have ever heard from a band let alone the band that basically got me into music!.

So with the roses over i was looking for something new, something with John Squires fingers all over it, and i didn't have to wait too long before Love is the law was released. OK so 1997 was the time that Britpop basically started to die a slow death, but a few bands that rose up in this time were still great even thou they would only release 1 or so albums.The seahorses fell into this category, with that opening riff on Love is the law i knew who was the Musical one of the roses as i tried by best to learn the riff on my new Gibson Les Paul  ( a favourite of John Squire no less!! ).
It was a different sound to the Roses but it was a nice change that had Squires trademark Distorted Chorus lead intertwined with arpeggios.Even at only 10 songs "Do it yourself" is a fantastic album that was released when The British music scene was in a confused state but still producing some fantastic bands.With songs like "Love me and leave me", "You can talk to me" and "Blinded by the sun" all being released as singles and of course the 7 minute version of  "Love is the law" with its blistering solo this was an album to be reckoned with.

But it wasn't to last and after only album and 4 singles it was basically over apart from an unreleased demo album.John went to do some work with his Skunworks and has released 2 solo albums and of 2004 has quit the music business to concentrate on his art. Singer Chris Helme went on to form the band "The yards" with former Shed seven guitarist Paul Banks, then went solo.

Mr Squire..................... Im still waiting !!!!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

My insomniacs Dream ........ Manatray


Mantaray was one of those bands that always got pushed to one side just like other bands that didn't conform to  the Oasis pulp and Blur formula.Funny thing is Mantaray were making music that was just as good as song on "Modern life is rubbish" which was being held as the Great Britpop album!.

So we have Mantarays 1st ablum "Some pop" which was released in 1994 and had a slight nod to the Mod and Freakbeat movement of the 60's and in all reality is a fantastic album.They were apart of the "new wave of the new wave" that emerged around 1994 which included bands like Thurman, Menswe@r, These animal men and S*M*A*S*H. Mantaray were gainging speed and toured like hell through 1994 honing their sound which was always apart from the rest of the Britpop bands of the time (bands started to introduce trumpets around mid 95). Stand out tracks are "Insomniacs dream", "Without a doubt" and "closet hetro" to name but a few, these were in essence the raw driving power of the album, all snarls and big teeth but still wearing a skinny tie!.

By the time the 2nd album hit "The red and the blues" Britpop was gearing down and changing its sound.
New bands like Sussed and The space monkeys had a more 90s baggy sound and this was also the case for Mantarays 2nd effort. The album had a more Madchester sound that can be found in the opening track "Know where to find you" and the track "Always tomorrow" but it still had flourishings of the mod pop we loved from the 1st album.

What set Mantaray and other "NWOTNW" bands were simple straight forward 3 minute pop songs that  smacked you in the face sung  by skinny indie boys who did way too much Speed!. And for a time it was perfect  and still is, Over the years the term "Britpop" has been blighted by bands like Oasis and Blur and its true those bands were a part of the scene. But the real Britpop were bands Like Mantaray and the other bands im trying to cover, all those small bands on small indie lables.

When the worde INDIE actually stood for something !!!!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Everybody needs a bit of magic sponge.... Heavy Stereo !

So its 1995 and everything is sweet and all rosy with Glasto just around the corner when i open up my weekly NME and see Justine from Elastica wearing a t-shirt with the  logo of "Heavy stereo". So i bit and found out who they were and bought the 1st single "Sleep freak" and i played those 3 songs till i wore it out. I was diggin the 70s Glam rock style which was a change from all the mod stuff most other bands were influenced it
(Which aint a bad thing!).
Cut to a while later and i find myself and my mates following them around at all sorts of gigs including Glasto 95.
I remember The Mod father ( BAH !) Paul Weller was playing the local leisure centre at the time and everyone had tickets apart from me and my 3 mates.Which suited us fine because we found out that Heavy stereo were playing at a local pub along with "Baby bird", "Northern Uproar" and "The long pigs". So we walked up to the door and was refused entry as we was too young!, we pleaded that we wouldn't drink as we was only there to see the bands!. NO ENTRY!, so with our spirits crushed we headed back home when a scruffy man walked up to us asking why we wasn't going to see the bands?.We explained why and he ran off and entered the pub and after 10 mins he returned explaining that he had put our names on the guest list as he was the tour manager!. 
A swift 2 fingers up to the Doorman was called for when we entered......... which we did!.

It was a fantastic night "Baby bird" was unheard of back then but i do remember them playing the soon to be released single "Good night" and were really fun and interactive with the crowd. After them were "The longpigs" who were just fantastic and i bought the 7" of "She said" on the door on the way home!. Northern uproar were SHIT and to make things worse myself  and the rest of the audience couldn't get passed the fact the the lead singer sounded like he was saying "Fuck you" after every song when he was actually saying Thank you. Heavy stereo was of course fantastic and played mainly the b-sides from their 2 singles and a few tracks from the upcoming album. Just before they played the song "Magic sponge" Gem the lead singer announced that "Everybody needs a bit of magic sponge!" to which my self and my mate Geoff repeated at the top of our voices at every time they played the song at every gig we saw them at!.

Im sure When they supported "Cast" a few weeks later Gem smiled at me when we shouted this in the front row!.

But then again i also think that Sonya from Echobelly winked at me during a gig and i thought my luck was in!!

Nothing happened!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

But I just wanna cut some rug....... The Bluetones

The 1st time that i heard "Are you blue are you blind"i thought it was an instant classic from a small band on a small Indie lable that i never heard of!.Well it was an instant classic and after a few months after its initinal release it was like rocking horse shit to get hold of a copy (Thank you Martian records Exeter! ). So the 1st gig for me was at the Cavern Club in Exeter with support from the amazing "Perfume" joined by my partner in crime "Mr Geoff Williamson". We entered the building and went straight to the bar (slightly under age i might add).Well thats most of what i remember of the gig as we got far to drunk and kinda laid down on the floor in front of the stage. My only memory of seeing the band at this gig was when Geoff asked if i could see who was playing  and im my drunken state my reply was "i think its the Bluetones as i can see a Blue light!!"

This happened several times and it wasn't until years later that i actually got to see the band play in a sober state and true to form they were Brilliant. I always thought that the Bluetones were one of those bands who not only could write a great tune but were very talented musicians "Just like the band Gene!".

Well 17 years later and 6 albums the Bluetones have just announced that they are to disband and go their septate ways. Its sad really because they are one of those bands that can take me back to when i was 16 and thought i was  invincible and the Britpop invasion would never come to an end. As im writing this i am listening to "expecting to fly" and remembering those NME  front covers claiming the Bluetones were the next best thing and will be remembered  for many years to come.

This may be the 1st time that the NME got it right !!!.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Communication is a let down... Shed Seven

Would you give blood if you had any ??.........

I still remember it was a summers day 1994 and i was on the way to Exeter to see my 1st shed seven gig. On the way we were all singing the Lyric "And I'll take your car And never bring it back But please paint the door I don't like green anymore" and arguing weather the door was green or grey!!!!!.

"Change giver" was the album that defined my teenage years and is still one of those albums that can take me back with a single guitar riff!.Shed seven ment the world to me and the music they made will always mean"Indie".
Melody maker branded them a part of the "new wave of the new wave" of bands to emmerge in the early 90's including S*M*A*S*H, These animal men and Elastica to name but a few. From hearing their 1st single "Mark" on radio 1's the evening show (When radio 1 was good and championed new music!)  i thought they were the most amazing thing i had heard (i think up to that point the only albums i owned were the spin doctors and Ugly kid Joe").
With the release of their 2nd single "Dolphin" the Britpop Movement started to gain momentum and pushed The Sheds into the limelight and even to this day i will only think of one song when i hear the bongos play. I remember seeing an advert in Melody maker with the upcoming 2nd album "In colour" and trying to pre order it from Our price and being told i couldn't as it hasn't been made yet!!......Cheek!
Well the 2nd album was eventually released in 1996 and was titled "A maximum high" and i bought the 12" and played it over and over and over that evening and made a copy on tape for my dads car for the week.

With a total of 4 studio albums and 17 singles The sheds Disbanded in 2003 but continue to play reunion shows every now and then.

As rick Witter sang "The world revolves around me!"  and for a few years it did....well for me anyways!!