UP AT REGENTS PARK, THE CREATION FC striker crisis continues. With centre-forwards Oasis now out for at least a year through injuries sustained while releasing an average LP and young signings, Arnold and 3 Colours Red not warranting a first-team place, craggy Scots manager Alan McGee delves into the transfer market. Does he sign a promising foreigner or snipe a wily winger from another label? No. He puts his trust in a cuddly old hoofer who used to be in Haircut 100.
And ultimately, Brian, the boy done good. While ‘The Apple Bed’ hardly pushes back the boundaries of pop, it’s an admirable retread of its past glories. Kicking off with ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ – a seamless pastiche of The Beatles’ ‘She’s Leaving Home’ – Heyward connives a sequence of Teenage Fanclub impersonating XTC masquerading as Beach Boys mini-epics with lush string orchestration. While the world has tired of the endless ‘if ’60s were ’90s’ features in the Sunday supplements, ‘The Apple Bed’ still catches the dying rays of the second summer of swinging London. The mellifluous ‘Chelsea Sky’ chortles mirthlessly about “the London punks” and “Eton drunks” and though he’s more of a draftsman than a craftsman, at least Heyward is shamelessly so, as he merrily burbles on ‘Dear Miss Finland’: “Here I am, making the most of it, doing the best that I can”.
Ultimately, though, this is a record which oozes niceness and won’t be too upset when you flick past it in the new release racks. Back at the Regents Park dug-out, McGee hunches up inside his sheepskin jacket. It looks like 1998 will be a long year.