If last weekend taught us nothing else, it revealed the lasting potency of 80s/90s indie. The Stone Roses’ triumphant gigs at Heaton Park – attended by tens of thousands of aging liggers and curious younger fans – were a vindication of a scene that just won’t die and, of course, a handsome payday for an influential band that never quite received its due first time around.
The ‘Roses deserve the adulation and downright giddy excitement whipped up in their honour. In 1989 they brought a flash of colour to the alternative margins and transcended the fractious, moribund independent charts to become something of real cultural weight. Mainstream weight, anyway. Initial reception for the debut album was a touch more than lukewarm but the Madchester rollercoaster soon took care of itself, and by the end of the year they – and accidental partners Happy Mondays – were the hottest property around.
Now, after the disappointing unraveling in the mid 90s, they’re getting the billing they warrant. Whether they’ll outlast this tour or even make another record – a record that could do the million-unit-shifting business their name cries out for – is up in the air, but right now justice is done, isn’t it?
One down, shedloads to go. For all the Suedes and Pulps who captured dilettante hearts, the indie golden age of the late 80s and early 90s offered up scores of would-be superstars who never were. Wouldn’t it be nice if this lot could get back together – or get into gear – and have their own Heaton Park’s worth of praise, deification and good old cash?
The House Of Love
You could make a case that The House Of Love were the major victims of The Stone Roses’ rise. So let’s do it. Darlings of the inkies and the indie chart, Guy Chadwick’s surprisingly muscular psych-pop jangleurs owned 1988 with ‘Destroy The Heart’, ‘Shine On’ and ‘Christine’, but lost momentum when guitar hero Terry Bickers left in 1989. Sure, they signed a major label deal with Fontana after that but the spark had gone, and while Chadwick and Bickers are now back in harness, it’s never really come back. Maybe re-recruiting Chris Groothuizen on bass and releasing a first album in nine years will do the trick. It’s up to you, chaps.
Maybe a bit later than early 90s, but Ultrasound cast a long shadow. A large one, at least. One fine album – 1999’s ‘Everything Picture’ – then a premature split before returning a couple of years back for some gigs but, as yet, no new long-player. They should get a move on: their epic rock is made for No.1 albums and gigantic fields of sobbing 35-year-olds.
No one’s seriously expecting Luke Haines to reform the old band, particularly after his scabrous 2009 autobiography Bad Vibes, but credit where it’s due: The Auteurs straddled that line between the new, seedy indie-glam of Suede and the Britpop to come, a pivotal band at a pivotal time. Still, you can’t second-guess Haines. He could be plotting that seven-night run at the O2 as we speak.
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Not the sort of band to play three vast homecoming gigs to the beered-up masses, Galaxie 500 were nevertheless seriously influential, whether malign – yards of drippy shoegaze – or benign – dream-pop adherents like Mercury Rev, Ride, Mazzy Star. Their three albums continue to find new audiences. Time for payback.
The Durutti Column
Essentially just Mancunian Zelig Vini Reilly, the lost genius of post-punk. There was a time around the end of the 80s, just before the demise of his label Factory, when Reilly looked set fair to sell a few records as he felt the pervading tendrils of dance music. It wasn’t to be. He slipped back into the shadows until… until now? Probably not.
By the time Cathal Coughlan and Sean O’Hagan’s deceptively soft rhythm and blues outfit had their brush with success in 1988 they weren’t strictly an independent band. Virgin Records had – bewilderingly – seen commercial potential in their scything, bitter attacks on the rich, the regal and the, well, South African, and let them release a couple of albums of velvety barbs. The strain was too much for the Cork quintet and Coughlan left to get even more splenetic with Fatima Mansions while O’Hagan recreated The Beach Boys with The High Llamas. The world needs their like again.
Bear with me. There aren’t many bands who could match the Stourbridge fragglers’ astonishing three-album opening salvo. ‘The Eight Legged Groove Machine’, ‘Hup’ and ‘Never Loved Elvis’ brought progressively greater success and mounting maturity of songmanship (yep) but somehow the Stuffies (oh no) were never treated with the respect they merited. Possibly something to do with Miles Hunt being a prize plum. Still, imperishable songs, towering live chops – get the old band back together, Miles (minus the sadly departed Bass Thing and drummer Martin Gilks), not that backing troupe you’re dragging around the country.
OK, no. They were far too bloody successful in the first place.