Various Artists – ‘And Now Our Lives Are Complete’

Various Artists - 'And Now Our Lives Are Complete'

An eclectic compilation showcasing the best of Tim Burgess' O Genesis label

Tim Burgess was never Britpop’s most obvious polymath. Amid all the pointy-heads and schemers, this floppy-limbed Cheshire acid smiley always seemed to be just along for the ride. Yet as The Charlatans have gradually retreated towards the legacy act stages, Tim has found more and more things to do to keep busy. First there were the solo albums. Then the 6Music DJing. The memoir (that he wanted to call ‘My Drug Heaven’). Then Carl Barat’s ‘supergroup’ The Chavs. His own diner at Kendal Calling. And then, of course, there’s also his ongoing quest to become Factory Records boss Tony Wilson.

Along with long-time Charlatans producer Jim Spencer, for the past three years, Tim has driven O Genesis his own label, producing nearly 40 vinyl albums and 7-inches, from Hatcham Social to lo-fi legend R Stevie Moore. He catalogues them in a Factory-like ‘GEN 001’ format. And he splits everything 50-50 with the artists, like Wilson, only asking them to sign a flimsy rights note he calls a ‘non-tract’. The first label retrospective summarises just how far towards the fringes the man’s taste has sailed since the Charlatans’ ‘How High’ days. His newfound friends include Nik Colk Void from Factory Floor, who adds blank Throbbing Gristle noise-blobs on ‘Gold E’, and Kurt Wagner from Lambchop, who reads lyrics from ‘A Case For Vinyl’, one of the songs from his 2012 collaboration album with Tim, ‘Oh No I Love You’. There’s a wave of so-2011 paint-by-numbers grunge from Minny Pops, Throwing Up and Slowgun, and some excellent further adventures in cold wave from the likes of Education For Death and Pavlov’s Children, as well as odder oddities from London poet Jack Underwood.

The overall feeling is of a good mid-sized club night put on to reflect the tastes of one enthusiastic weirdo: not everything hits the mark, but there’s always enough art-school flair in his big bag of curate’s eggs to hold your attention. Direction, consistency: these may come later – for now, the former court jester of Britpop seems happy enough to have remade himself into a hip priest. Amazing the IQ you can hide under a haircut that wide.

Gavin Haynes


Director: Various
Record label: O Genesis
Release date: 10 Mar, 2014