It’s been almost a year since I posted the first of my top 20 album reviews! My first post was dedicated to the brilliant debut album Attack of the Grey Lantern by Mansun (No, not Hanson or Marilyn Manson), but reading back over it now and the whole piece feels undercooked. Paul Draper and co deserved better but hey, I was just starting out, finding my feet, feeling my way. Maybe I’ll re-write it one day and get it up to scratch.
It’s easy to forget what an unparalleled tour de force Oasis were when they burst onto the scene in the summer of 1994. Dangerously cool, razor-edge witty and a whole new level of arrogant, they were impossible to ignore, the musical equivalent of Jack Nicholson smashing the door down with his axe in The Shining.
I was sixteen years old when their debut album Definitely Maybe hit the shelves and its impact on me was immeasurable. On the one hand it’s a record brazenly in debt to its influences, which ranged from T-Rex, The Stones, The Sex Pistols, The Jam and The Stone Roses. There’s even a tip of the hat to Gary Glitter, at a time when the man was yet to be declared persona non grata. But while their self-fuelled comparisons with The Beatles remained inescapable, the truth was Oasis sounded nothing like The Fab Four, while as an LP Definitely Maybe was much more than some heady nostalgia trip.
I was wandering around Our Price Records one day in the mid 90s when suddenly a song struck me like a well-fired arrow. With its new wave beats, thorny guitars and dry cynical vocals, I initially thought it might be The Cure. But the longer the track went on, the more I realized I had no idea who it was. “Avoiding all work, ‘cos there’s none available’’. Propelling gender confusion with a critical eye over binge-drinking chav culture, I was instantly hooked and simply had to find out what and who I was listening to. ‘‘Blur… Girls and Boys’’ said the cashier in a bored voice, declining to even look up from the NME clutched in his fat hands. I picked up the single that day and having played it to death over the ensuing weeks, soon got round to checking out its parent album Parklife.
Music has always been a huge part of my life. Having bought my first album at sixteen, I’ve now been a record collector for twenty years. Click on the ‘Music’ link below to read about my journey.
Thanks for reading,
I can’t put my finger on when exactly Britpop became such a dirty word. A genre that once channelled such an acute sense of hope and reinvention, today it’s often referred to with an acidic dismissiveness. Cock an ear to any non-believer and you’re likely to hear buzzwords like ‘‘derivative’’, ‘‘pedestrian’’ and ‘‘false dawn’’.
Britpop was the music of my youth, the soundtrack to my coming of age, so naturally I’m having none of it. Not that I don’t see where the naysayers are coming from. Admittedly there were countless bands that sounded like inferior laboratory clones of Shed Seven. Then you had acts such as Menswear, Cast, Space, Heavy Stereo and Embrace, all of whom released records that made you wanna turn your back on music and take up trainspotting. Hell, I’ll even begrudgingly accept that Oasis didn’t turn out to be the new Beatles after all, largely failing to fulfil their potential.
This amazing debut album blew me away from the moment I first heard it. It’s a bewildering hotpot of musical styles that shouldn’t really work but somehow come together in a glorious messy triumph. Offering a peephole into an otherworldly English village, it follows the lives of its eccentric and highly dysfunctional inhabitants. There’s Penelope Cheapskate, Fatima Toothpaste, Egg Shaped Fred, Albert Taxloss and Dark Mavis. Not to mention a nameless vicar with an addiction to cross-dressing and stripping (‘‘And he’s dressing like his daughter, while he’s making wine from water”).