The Lost Classics Of Britpop

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[Reposted in April 2014] Simon Tyers and Chris Hughes from cult TV Nostalgia website TV Cream came to Phoenix towers at the end of May 2004 – when Phoenix FM was on air with a 28-day Restricted Service Licence (and online, even way back then) – to give us their rundown on the lost classics of Britpop. Here’s what they played and what they said at the time.

[Alas – we have no photos of this event. People didn’t really take photos in 2004, did they?]

BLUR – POPSCENE
The ultimate lost Britpop classic, the wiry Popscene scraped to number 32 in the spring of 1992. Frustrated by the public’s disinterest, Blur sulkily declared it would never appear on an album, ever, not even their greatest hits.

AUTEURS – SHOWGIRL
Luke Haines/they appeared on the famous Select magazine Yanks Go Home! cover strapline and missed out on the 1993 Mercury Music Prize by one vote (to Suede, natch). By 1996, being a contrary bugger, Haines had released a vituperative album about a murderer theme park.

SLEEPER – NICE GUY EDDIE
Destined to be remembered for giving music the ‘Sleeperbloke’, mouthy union bar pin-up Louise Wener and band actually enjoyed a decent run of three-minute radio-friendly soap operas. Like this single from 1996 album Nice Guy Eddie.

LONGPIGS – FAR
From Sheffield, like Pulp. Vaguely glam, like Pulp. Not many hits, unlike Pulp. Previous single She Said was famous for Crispin Hunt’s scream before the last chorus, which led Chris Evans and crew to scream over the rest of the song whenever they played it, which led Radio 1 Roadshow crowds to scream after any point they saw fit.

EDWYN COLLINS – ADIDAS WORLD
The perfect sardonic salute to cool Britannia, Britpop and its three-striped old school uniform, released in 1997 and possibly the only single ever to reference Adidas founder Adi Dassler.

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS – HOMETOWN UNICORN
The story is that after seeing an early gig Creation’s Alan McGee went backstage and told Gruff Rhys that they could be huge if they sang more in English, to which Rhys replied that the whole set had been in English. So he signed them, this being their first single for the label.

EDWARD BALL – THE MILL HILL SELF HATE CLUB
Northern Line pop perfection by the lyrical Creation Records in-house mascot from the summer of 1996, best remembered for a promo video starring Anna Friel, Graham Le Saux and Alan McGee.

TEENAGE FANCLUB – DON’T LOOK BACK
A third Creation act in a row (fourth if you count Collins’ short spell at the label in the late 80s), the jangle meisters’ 1995 album Grand Prix was much admired but didn’t sell as much as it should have. The cover featured a Simtek F1 car, surely none more 1995.

THE DIVINE COMEDY – BECOMING MORE LIKE ALFIE
Michael Caine-sampling kitchen sink celluloid from 1996, the second single from breakthrough album Casanova, championed by Chris Evans and featuring Neil Hannon at his eyebrow-arching finest.

BABYBIRD – GOODNIGHT
Stephen Jones emerged from a Sheffield bedroom`m some time around 1993 claiming he’d written more than 500 songs, and proceeded to put albums out at an alarming rate. Picked up by a major, this was the single before You’re Gorgeous ruined his indie reputation.

THE BOO RADLEYS – FIND THE ANSWER WITHIN
Existential cosmic scouse pop from the one-time ‘Do Badly’s’, a minor hit in the summer of 1995, boasting ace terrace singalong chorus and backwards football chants at the end.

CUD – RICH AND STRANGE
Pulp-predating Leeds oddballs who later found this soundtracking failed sitcom Baddiel’s Syndrome, but don’t hold that against it. They performed this on a 1993 pilot Reeves & Mortimer music show, chiefly notable for being called Popadoodledandy.

ELASTICA – WAKING UP
Brazen new wave revivalism from 1995, cups of tea, spiky guitars and indolent vocals from Justine all present and correct, securing permanent a-list status on indie disco playlists.

KENICKIE – PEOPLE WE WANT
A contemplative moment from At The Club, the debut album by Sunderland’s much-loved but not selling enough chiefly female pop-punks. Nowadays Lauren Laverne’s increasingly wasted on the telly, Johnny X released a lo-fi singer-songwriter album under the name J Xaverre last year, and Marie Du Santiago and Emmy-Kate Montrose formed Rosita, who split in 2001 after two singles, and disappeared.

ASH – GIRL FROM MARS
Rocket-powered bedroom punk tribute to Henri Winterman cigars, late-night card sessions and the nameless space cadet of the title. Reached number 11, from the band’s first proper album, 1977.

WHIPPING BOY – WHEN WE WERE YOUNG
Like many here they’d probably hate being called Britpop, largely because they were Irish, but they toted guitars in 1995, so they’re in. Heartworm was one of the more under-rated albums of that year.

ST ETIENNE – YOU’RE IN A BAD WAY
Fab humming Joe Meek pastiche by the great lost Magpie team that was St Etienne, from their 1993 album So Tough. Earns TVC bonus points for that reference to the Generation Game in the first verse.

MY LIFE STORY – STRUMPET
Jake Shillingford and friends – 17 at one point – were hated by the NME but loved by a small society of people attracted by cheap glamour and an in-house string section. Shillingford now fronts Exile Inside and rakes in royalties from The Premiership On Monday, which uses 12 Reasons Why I Love Her on its show menu.

BLACK GRAPE – REVEREND BLACK GRAPE
Inspired if not particularly obvious blueprint from Shaun and Bez, soldering what sounded like the harmonica riff from The Old Grey Whistle Test to lines from old Christmas carols, and making number nine in 1995.

EARL BRUTUS – NAVYHEAD
A group of men old enough to know better, including a former JoBoxer (of Boxer Beat fame), one of turn of the ’90s hopefuls World Of Twist and the brother of ABC’s Martin Fry, they formulated a mutant strain of glam guitar and electronics, accompanied live by a man whose sole purpose during gigs was to drink beer, headbang on the spot and more often than not eventually dodge flying bits of equipment. The story goes that, at their first big London media-filled concert, they smashed up their gear within 10 minutes and spent the next 20 miming to Joe Fagin’s That’s Livin’ Alright before leaving the stage.

ME ME ME – HANGING AROUND
The closest Britpop ever got to a supergroup, Stephen Duffy, Alex James from Blur and Justin Welch from Elastica united in the summer of 1996 for this brassy beer garden kickabout and reached number 19.

BLUETONES – SOLOMON BITES THE WORM
Ridiculous to think now that in 1995 they were considered the new Stone Roses, but there’s Britpop thinking in a nutshell. This was from the second album, Return To The Last Chance Saloon.

PULP – RAZZMATAZZ
Lustrous late-night high-rise drama from 1992, Jarvis Cocker’s final dress rehearsal before Pulp’s belated blast-off from virtual obscurity to chart heroics and critical adulation. From the essential 1993 collection, Intro.

DAVID DEVANT AND HIS SPIRIT WIFE – GINGER
Briefly feted in 1997, accompanied by many positive if confused notices for The Vessel and co’s live show featuring attempted magic, singing into mirrors, odd background videos and onstage overhead carrot grating during this song, performed by hangers-on The Spectral Roadies.

LUSH – SINGLE GIRL
Done and dusted in two and a half minutes flat, this bittersweet photo romance reached number 21 in January 1996 and inspired Mark and Lard’s glorious remake, Single Bloke.

TIGER – RACE
They attempted to re-popularise the mullet, they sounded like an attempt to recreate early Fall crossed with Stereolab, Mark Goodier announced later single On The Rose with the words “Tiger have released their song again…” and the Guardian quoted a commercial radio spokesman slamming Radio 1 with the words “milkmen don’t want to have to listen to Tiger all day”.

SHED 7 – GETTING BETTER
The terminally underrated but big-in-Thailand quartet from York actually turned out a slew of formidable indie jukebox anthems, but they never topped this swaggering shoutalong from 1996.

HELEN LOVE – LONG LIVE THE UK MUSIC SCENE
The Newport’s cheap synth bubblegum poppette’s ironic swipe at Chris Evans, Shed Seven (which is why we played it here), Ocean Colour Scene etc. Previous single We Love You had been playlisted by Radio 1 despite sounding like it’d been recorded for 50p.

SUEDE – NEW GENERATION
Panoramic parkway powerpop from the band’s second album Dog Man Star and their last single featuring Bernard Butler on guitar and song writing credits. Reached number 21 in 1995.

GENE – SLEEP WELL TONIGHT
At the time heralded as the new Smiths (cf the Bluetones), Olympian is a candidate for the title of best overlooked album of the era. Instead of living in LA and being loved by the local Mexican community, however, singer Martin Rossiter lives in Brighton and was on a house design show on Five last year.

OASIS – FADE AWAY
Originally the raucous b-side of Cigarettes and Alcohol, before being rerecorded as an acoustic track with “assistance” from Johnny Depp to kick off 1995’s Help! charity album, although that didn’t stop it sounding a bit like Freedom by Wham!

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