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Radio X Chilled with Lliana Bird 7pm - 10pm
15 August 2021, 14:00
Which classic 1990s indie rock classics should you include in your collection?
When Brett Anderson appeared on the front of Select magazine in front of a Union Jack flag, he became one of the figureheads of Britpop. This confident record was the fastest selling British debut in over a decade and saw Anderson take up the mantle of Bowie as an androgynous, ambiguous, charismatic personality. Most Britpop track: Animal Nitrate
After the baggy shuffle of their debut Leisure, Blur found themselves at a crossroads: a brief dabble in shoegaze guitar went nowhere, so Albarn, Coxon, Rowntree and James turned to classic British musicians like original Pink Floyd frontman Syd Barrett and The Kinks for inspiration. The result: the first genuine Britpop album! Most Britpop track: For Tomorrow
After a decade chipping away with indie singles and the odd album, Jarvis Cocker became a national hero with Pulp’s fourth album. Although not as feted as Different Class, His ’N’ Hers cemented Cocker as one of the country’s best lyricists. Most Britpop track: Do You Remember The First Time?
Part of the London Britpop contingent, Justine Frischmann proved that there was more to her than being linked to both Blur and Suede by leading this excellent band through a confident debut. Critics sniped that some of the songs were not dissimilar to classic post-punk hits, but like most pop music, the influences were retooled and reworked for a new generation. Most Britpop track: Connection
Blur may have satirised modern Britain with quintessentially English lyrics, but Oasis nailed the flip side of this with Manc swagger, confidence and pure down to earth grit. If Parklife was art school, Definitely Maybe was comprehensive school. Most Britpop track: Digsy’s Dinner
This 1995 saw the Liverpool band get swept up in the wave of Britpop bands, but their sound was more eclectic than most acts that were pigeonholed in that category. Female Of The Species and Neighbourhood are cinematic excursions, while Me And You Vs The World is a mini-anthem Oasis would be proud of. Most Britpop track: Female Of The Species
Liverpool’s Boos originally started out as guitar noise merchants and found themselves part of Britpop almost by accident. Their 1993 album Giant Steps was a lengthy, conceptual masterpiece, but the follow-up landed at the right time in March of 1995. Songwriter Martin Carr claims the title track was written while watching The Big Breakfast after a night on acid, and the rest of the album matches Beach Boys-styled harmonies with sonic exploration. Most Britpop track: Wake Up Boo!
Like Blur, Birmingham’s OCS pre-dated Britpop and their brief foray into shoegaze floundered, but working with Paul Weller and a support slot with Oasis saw their 1996 album Moseley Shoals reach a whole new audience. The Day We Caught The Train, like Parklife, references The Who’s Quadrophenia, carving a new genre from nostalgia. Most Britpop track: The Riverboat Song, simply for being the walk on music on TFY Friday.
A troubled record, which saw guitarist Bernard Butler leave the band before it was completed, but Dog Man Star builds on the ground laid by Suede’s debut by going deeper into art rock territory. Critics and the general public were confused, but fans could see that Suede had a career beyond the music press headlines. Most Britpop track: We Are The Pigs
The Welsh band forged their style and attitude in the late 1980s indie scene, but by the time Britpop rolled around, the Manics had been through a lot. Their 1994 album The Holy Bible was a harrowing, personal diatribe, but following the disappearance of guitarist Richey Edwards in the Spring of 1995, the remaining trip regrouped and produced one of the era’s defining documents. Led off by the defiant single A Design For Life, Everything Must Go was a band re-asserting themselves. Most Britpop track: A Design For Life
Auteurs frontman Luke Haines was so unsure of his place in the genre’s pantheon that he titled his autobiography: Bad Vibes: Britpop And My Part In His Downfall. While they weren’t the most commercially successful of the bands listed here, The Auteurs had a style and a sound that deserves re-investigation: faded glam, dour lyrics and killer songs. Most Britpop track: Showgirl
From the Phil Daniels-starring title track to the Club 18-30 vibes of Girls & Boys, Blur took a snapshot of Britain in the late 20th Century, right down to the mundane domesticity of End Of A Century. Most Britpop track: Tracy Jacks
The Oxford band may not have slotted in comfortably to the Britpop genre, but their second album dropped in March 1995 as the wave was peaking and contains some killer tunes. Embracing the darker side of life in the 90s, it’s a thoughtful record that paved the way for the seminal OK Computer. Most Britpop track: Just
If Britpop was about hedonism and confidence, Different Class was about the morning after guilt. Jarvis Cocker tells tall tales about feeling like an outsider from standing at a rave feeling weird to class tourism in the mega-hit Common People. Most Britpop track: Common People, of course
Oxford’s Supergrass were initially seen as the hyperactive little brothers of Oasis, but this album of short, sharp slices of teenage life hinted at a more mature sound that would see them beyond the sprightly pop of the hit Alright. Most Britpop track: Caught By The Fuzz
Although the “female-fronted band” quickly became a Britpop cliche, Sleeper’s Louise Wener broke out of the format by being a witty and intelligent songwriter. Their second album, The It Girl, was more commercially successful but the debut Smart is an essential document of Britpop. Most Britpop track: Inbetweener
Wales’s own contribution to Britpop, SFA appeared at the right time, while fellow countrymen Catatonia peaked a couple of years later. Fuzzy Logic features man of the moment Howard Marks on the cover, and the record is a nervy, psychedelic concoction of influences. Most Britpop track: God! Show Me Magic
Hounslow’s Bluetones had been around since 1993, but it was their debut album three years later that put them on the map. The song Slight Return is gentle yet defiant and the rest of the accompanying LP is equally appealing. Most Britpop track: Slight Return
Singer Martin Rossiter was mocked for his devotion to Morrissey’s style, but some solid support from the music press saw Gene achieve Britpop greatness… if only for a short time. Most Britpop track: Sleep Well Tonight
The follow-up album Let It Ride may have included the classic Chasing Rainbows, but this 1996 outing is Shed Seven’s definitive Britpop moment, featuring the epic Going For Gold and Getting Better. Most Britpop track: Going For Gold
After The La’s seemed to go on permanent hiatus following the release of their debut album in 1990, songwriter John Power grew frustrated and formed his own band with former Shack man Peter Wilkinson. The result was Cast and their debut album All Change is proof that part of The La’s success was down to Power’s ear for melody. Finetime, Alright, Sandstorm and the epic ballad Walkaway are all solid hits and the rest is impeccably delivered, too. Most Britpop track: Alright
Something of a running joke at the time in the music press due to the presence of “posh” Crispian Mills (the grandson of Brit actor Sir John Mills), Kula Shaker’s debut album is actually a solid piece of Britpop, rock and Eastern mysticism, featuring the hits Tattva, Hey Dude and Govinda. The more exotic side of Britpop - and the cover artwork is by Dave “Watchmen” Gibbons to boot. Most Britpop track: Tattva
Singer and co-writer Sonya Madan was the driving force behind this London band, and her pronunciation of the title of the hit Great Things is probably the most Britpop thing in this entire list. Accomplished New Wave-influenced rock. Most Britpop track: Great Things.
1994’s Homegrown appeared as Britpop broke, but it was Dodgy’s third album that’s their most accomplished outing. Featuring the ponderous In A Room and the joyous Good Enough, it’s a solid record, complete with a mega-ballad, If You’re Thinking Of Me. Most Britpop track: In A Room
The peak of Britpop: over 30 million copies sold worldwide, an era-defining moment for the band, the music industry and a generation. Kicking off with the boisterous Hello, this is a solid set of classic songs, courtesy of Noel Gallagher’s music and Liam Gallagher’s peerless voice. Most Britpop track: Don’t Look Back In Anger