During one of my all too frequent, and distressingly tiring, bouts of insomnia, I was channel hopping, as you do, well as I do, and came across a whole two hour documentary of the Britpop years, the 90s. I’d forgotten just how exciting the 90s were.
There was no Autotune, so it all sounded different. Lots of guitars, keyboards, bass. No real poncing about with flutes, or other woodwind, or brass. Straight down the line ‘Let’s make some bloody noise.’
It was a fantastic time to enjoy music. I had to keep buying new storage racking for my CD collection, and waiting for tickets to arrive.
You could make a case for Primal Scream setting things in motion with 1991’s ‘Screamadelica.’ Movin’ on Up was a masterpiece, then Loaded. What was going on in the charts? Nobody really knew, but bear in mind that without Screamadelica, Creation Records would have foundered, and we may not have had Oasis.
But there were other bands that were so good they beggared belief, especially live. I saw Suede really early on, and they were brave. Instead of a glamrock rabblerouser, the start was the plaintive ‘See you,’ with just Brett Anderson and a piano. Then Bernard Butler hit the floor. Matt Osman* came onstage looking like an animated bit of Stonehenge with his bass looking so small because he’s so tall it looked like something you’d find in a Christmas cracker. They were majestic.
But everybody has heard of Suede. Did anybody bother to go to The Mighty Lemonheads at the Dominion in Tottenham Court Road? Alison and I did.
I was a big fan of the Charlatans, and they came from just down the road. They had it all. Massive guitar sound, and Rob Collin’s Hammond organ*. I loved them. I once my way into a backstage party to rescue a mate who had been a dick. Let’s also not forget The Inspiral Carpets, who hailed from my home town, all indefensible pudding-basin haircuts, and they were even louder than The Charlatans.
Echobelly. One album wonders, but what an album. And what a great live act. Enough volume to stun elephants. Shed Seven. Death in Vegas. They just kept on coming
Then there were some even more fringe players. The Dandy Warhols were Americans, from Portland, Oregon, but we Brits took them to our hearts. They were fun live, though I did get sucked into the moshpit (I was about 44) which was a surprise.
Then we had the Pulp/Blur feud, Oasis and the Gallagher brothers scrapping between themselves and with other bands, including Liam accusing Mick Hucknall of looking like Charlie Drake. The shoegazers, Ride and Slowdive. It went on and on.
Meanwhile, house was emerging. If you never went to a Shamen gig, you really never lived. They were so loud even I wondered.
Those were good musical days.
*He died sadly, but the replacement was drafted in from Primal Scream, and he fitted the role like a glove.
*His brother is Richard Osman of UK quiz show fame.