Oasis’s ‘Definitely Maybe’ has just had the big deluxe reissue treatment and ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ will follow later this year, so which other Britpop classics (or would-be classics) deserve a tasteful repackaging and sympathetic remastering? We’ve picked 25 candidates. Soz, Menswe@r just missed the cut.
Supergrass, ‘In It For The Money’
Supergrass’s second already sounded pretty beefy when it charged out in 1997, but could do with crisping up a bit. Even though debut ‘I Should Coco’ tends to get the plaudits, ‘In It For The Money’ deserves its moment in the sun for the knuckle-dusting ‘Richard III’ and perception-altering ‘Going Out’ alone. Their teeth were still clean too.
The Charlatans, ‘The Charlatans’
Northwich’s finest came through baggy and the call of the dumper to drift around the Britpop edges, switching to a loose jangly rock mainly based on John Lennon’s ‘Bring On The Lucie (Freeda Peeple)’. Their self-titled fourth album is an unsung joy from soup to nuts.
Spiritualized, ‘Pure Phase’
Spiritualized – or Spiritualized Electric Mainline, as they appeared to be called for their second album – are in the Britpop mix more through timing than intent, but there’s little more British than smacked-out psychedelia, and ‘Medication’ ticks that box. It’s a mystery why Jason Pierce was never invited to Downing Street.
Just reel off those beauties – ‘Neighbourhood’, ‘Me And You vs The World’, ‘Female Of The Species’ – it’s imperative that a new generation of kids hears these songs. A group of rough and ready Scousers with deathless melodies to burn, Space could’ve been the new Beatles if anyone had thought to make that comparison.
Cornershop, ‘When I Was Born For The 7th Time’
Cornershop found their groove, and indeed their musicianship, in time to bring some cross-cultural pollination to Britpop – in particular taking The Beatles’ ‘Norwegian Wood’ to its natural Punjabi-sung conclusion. ‘Brimful Of Asha’ in its original form and ‘Sleep On The Left Side’ are the crowning pop moments.
The Verve, ‘Urban Hymns’
What in Hades could stand in the way of a reissue of The Verve’s most awesome commercial statement? Allen Klein’s lawyers, probably. The legendary Rolling Stones manager died five years ago but his estate lives on – probably off proceeds from ‘Bittersweet Symphony”s sampling of the Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra’s arrangement of ‘The Last Time’. It was a risk.
Half of Britpop’s power couple with then-boyfriend Damon Albarn, Justine Frischmann was a star to be reckoned with in her own right. Elastica’s short, sharp debut was so pristine it took half a decade to follow it up, and the moment had passed. A reissue with bonus material might even push it beyond the 20-minute mark.
Super Furry Animals, ‘Fuzzy Logic’
The first album from Wales’s glossiest golden retrievers showed the Furries’ versatility in full effect, melding psychedelia, Beach Boys harmonies and glorious power-pop to shoot their bolt from the off. They’ve managed to repeat the trick almost every time since, but the debut still holds up.
Belle & Sebastian, ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’
An entire cult’s built up around Belle & Sebastian’s full debut (previous LP ‘Tigermilk’ started life as a limited run), encompassing books, films and a live release of the album played in full. It’s possibly the Glaswegians’ most consistent record but the sound these days is as thin as Andy Coulson’s defence. Let’s dust down those tapes.
The Divine Comedy, ‘Casanova’
Gawky Neil Hannon as smooth loverman was a conceit that actually worked and it produced two of Britpop’s least obvious classics in the hilarious Cold Comfort Farm-inspired tale of ‘Something For The Weekend’ and the movie fantasy of ‘Becoming More Like Alfie’.
Ride, ‘Carnival Of Light’
Ride were the babies of the shoegaze scene back in 1990 and never quite shook off that drone, but by the time of 1994’s ‘Carnival Of Light’ they were wearing mod threads and future Oasis/Beady Eye guitarist Andy Bell was frontman for lead single ‘Birdman’. That’s Britpop enough, right?
Black Grape, ‘It’s Great When You’re Straight…Yeah’
It was highly improbable that Shaun Ryder was going to come up with anything worthwhile after the demise of the Happy Mondays, but he stuck two fingers up at the doubters with Black Grape’s tremendous debut. Put on your Reeboks, man, and go play funky tennis. You heard.
The Auteurs, ‘Now I’m A Cowboy’
These days Luke Haines passes the long daylight hours chucking out piercing barbs to all and sundry on Twitter. Back in the early 90s though, he was beginning to shape one of British pop’s more idiosyncratic careers, and the biting glam riffola of The Auteurs’ second album was an early highpoint that no one seems to talk about now.
Kula Shaker, ‘K’
Holy Kaftan, Batman – it’s Hayley Mills’ boy Crispian and fellow gap-year mystics here to educate us in the ways of ‘Govinda’ and ‘Tattva’. And Deep Purple covers. However much scorn is poured Kula Shaker’s way these days, ‘K’ was stuffed with stellar tunes from ‘Hey Dude’ to ‘Grateful When You’re Dead’ and deserves reappraisal.
Gay Dad, ‘Leisure Noise’
A music journalist turned rock star? It’ll never catch on… Hmmm, back in a sec… Anyway, Face scribe Cliff Jones might’ve cut a faintly ridiculous figure but he had the looks and – in ‘Joy’ and ‘To Earth With Love’ – songs that could light up any Cool Britannic indie dancefloor. Just imagine those brash cuts freshly remastered.
They get a bad press, Dodgy. Admittedly the name doesn’t help much, with its ample fodder for headline writers and everyday comedians, but it’s all a bit unfair. ‘Staying Out For The Summer’? ‘Making The Most Of’? ‘Homegrown’ boasts songs you can still belt out at the drop of a hat. As long as no one’s in earshot.
Look past the dreadful cover (standard stuff from the Manc veterans, really) and you’ll find that even a good 15 years into their career, James were adaptable enough to ride the Britpop wave. ‘She’s A Star’, ‘Lost A Friend’ and ‘Tomorrow’ slotted in nicely with both the times and the James canon.
Teenage Fanclub, ‘Grand Prix’
By their fifth album, the Fannies (sorry, but there it is) had really got the hang of this power-pop thing, offering a US-influenced alternative to the Britpop sound and writing some of the scene’s best tunes in ‘Sparky’s Dream’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’. ‘Grand Prix’ still sounds chunky today – one of the greatest British rock albums of the last 25 years.
Embrace, ‘The Good Will Out’
Hop on your grandad’s knee and he’ll tell you a fairytale about how Embrace were once cool. But it’s true! At the fag-end of Britpop, they were the hip Oasis alternative with big old anthems like ‘Come Back To What You Know’ moving huge crowds with Danny McNamara’s dulcet tones. The artwork was nice too – would look great on a 2-CD digipak.
The Chemical Brothers, ‘Dig Your Own Hole’
You’re definitely Britpop if you’re incessantly hooking up with Noel Gallagher. The Chemical Brothers’ second album is rock’n’roll in club trousers, from the walloping ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ to the epic ‘The Private Psychedelic Reel’, and busted down boundaries that are still in smithereens today.
The Beta Band, ‘The 3 EPs’
From 1997 to 1998, The Beta Band released three fantastic EPs that seemed to point the way to a new post-Britpop direction – a bit rock, a bit psych, a bit electronica, even a bit R&B. Then they said their proper debut album was “fucking awful” and it all went pear-shaped. This collection of the EPs is still unimpeachable.
Stereolab, ‘Emperor Tomato Ketchup’
Because no one believes you when you say Stereolab are (mainly) British. In the fevered atmosphere of the mid-90s even this lot were selling records, but their faces didn’t quite fit – and singles called ‘Cybele’s Reverie’ were hardly shoo-ins for Top Of The Pops. Should be treasured by more than a minute coterie of fans however.
Edwyn Collins, ‘Gorgeous George’
A renewed focus on British rock’s roots offered a way back for a number of artists that seemed to have lost their mojo. Paul Weller was one, surfing the wave with ‘Stanley Road’; Edwyn Collins was another, finally chiming with an audience again, ‘Gorgeous George’ reaching the masses with the help of monster hit ‘A Girl Like You’.
Everything But The Girl, ‘Walking Wounded’
Perhaps not your archetypal Britpop act, but come on, there were guitars and Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt were (and are) British. What ‘Walking Wounded’ achieved was a career renaissance, an immaculate fusion of soft bedsit pop and sharper beats that made the pair feel relevant again. It was that kind of period.
Marion, ‘This World And Body’
A fresh go for the glorious debut from stop-start, fatally hamstrung, substance-caressing wounded boys Marion? Well, with reissues of Echobelly’s ‘On’ and Shed Seven’s ‘Change Giver’ just around the corner, anything could happen.