Thursday, January 24, 2013
50 GREAT ALBUMS IN MY 50th YEAR (Part 6)
We can argue long into the night about the merits or otherwise of Britpop. To some, it was a hideous period in which talentless singers and musicians got their 5 minutes of fame thanks to geographical quirks and the fact they formed band some 4 or 5 strong that harked back to a guitar-based sound last heard in the mid 80s. To others, it was the time they had all been waiting as the dreaded disco/club music(in whatever form) along with the endless/nameless 'woe is me, why does nobody understand my angst' Americana grunge rock (with the emphasis on rock) was banished from our airwaves.
It was officially cool to be British and it was officially cool to be a pop fan. I know this cos I read in a magazine - no make that I read it in every magazine, newspaper pull-out and saw it all the time on telly.
Let's try and be honest about it. Britpop, like every genre in music, produced some great stuff and a whole load of shite. It produced some heroes and a load of wankers. Sadly, just as with a lot of new wave, electronica, rave, house, grunge and hip-hop....much of it has dated poorly. That's just the way it is....
Me? I was in my 30s when Britpop came to the fore. I felt I'd seen and heard much of it before, but that didn't stop me buying a fair bit of it....especially CD singles when the local indie store had knocked them down to 99p in the bargain box...and that's probably what much of it was worth.
But not today's LP. It is genuinely Different Class.
I'm sure everyone knows that Pulp took an eternity to become overnight superstars. Three albums released at lengthy intervals - 1983, 1987 and 1992 - had the band regarded by many as a bad joke. Yes, there were a handful of writers who thought Jarvis Cocker had something about him that was worth keeping an eye on....and they were proved right with a series of slow-burning singles in 1993 and 1994 together with the excellent LP His'n'Hers. Music that was nice and sleazy. Music that perfectly captured the insecurities of life and loving. This was 'woe is me, why does nobody understand my angst' from a different angle.....poetic, tuneful and full of bedsit humour.
Unbelievably, they topped it the following year.
1995. Pulp were never out off the radio all summer as everyone seemed to adopt Common People as their anthem - even those who it was directed at seemed to revel in it. Then in September, the LP Different Class hit the shops.
Twelve parables as written by St Jarvis of Cocker set to music that pulled off the magic trick of sounding anthemic without being stadium-rock. Pulp were now one of the three biggest bands in the UK with millions of fans. Fame and fortune was theirs. Deservedly so.
I listened again to this album in full the other night probably for the first time in about ten years. It remains a belter without a duff track on it. That's not something you can say about the albums of that era of the other two big UK bands from that era.
mp3 : Pulp - Common People
mp3 : Pulp - Sorted for E's and Wizz
mp3 : Pulp - Monday Morning
To be honest, I could have chosen any three of the tracks and I reckon I'd be spoiling you today.