James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 16: Pablo Honey

James Proclaims (4)

If only there were a way to get to the sixteenth letter of the alphabet without referencing the immortal Blockbusters joke, “I’ll have a ‘P’ please Bob”

But there isn’t, so I did.

Obviously the above reference may mean nothing to you, particularly if you didn’t watch the quiz show Blockbusters in the 80s and 90s, when it was presented by the late great Bob Holness.

But let us not dwell on that now, because it has no relevance to the rest of this post.

Except that it is now time for us all to have a ‘P’…

P2020

P is for Pablo Honey

Radiohead.pablohoney.albumart

It would be almost unthinkable to do any kind of 90s retrospective on music without including Radiohead. But I assumed I’d probably go with ‘OK Computer’, given that it is oft regarded as one of the greatest records of all time.

And ‘OK Computer’ was an album that saw me through some pretty dark times in my younger days and for a very long time it didn’t leave my CD player.

But actually the same could be said for Radiohead’s debut album, ‘Pablo Honey’. It is, admittedly, regarded by many critics as by far their weakest album and, from what I’ve read, it doesn’t appear to be beloved by the band themselves.

But whether it’s as good as the rest of Radiohead’s back catalogue is not really the point. When it came out there were no other Radiohead albums to compare it to, and frankly I was around fourteen years old at the time, so I liked it for what it was.

And what it was, was a pretty decent collection of rock songs.

It might lack the innovation of later Radiohead albums, but it was certainly more accessible. Lets be honest, even the most die-hard Radiohead fan would have to admit that some of their later stuff is hard work. ‘Kid A’ grew on me eventually, but it took a long time.

I loved Pablo Honey the first time I heard it, and I still love it now.

If anyone else had released it, it would be probably be considered a great album in its own right and it seems unfair that it suffers in the shadows of it’s more accomplished siblings.

And it does contain one of the stand-out tracks of the nineties in Creep.

 

 

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 15: On

James Proclaims (4)

And so to ‘O’ that most circular of letters.

And when you think about the great albums of the nineties, there really could only be one choice for the letter ‘O’.

So it’s almost beyond belief that I’ve gone with a different one.

But I stand by today’s choice.

It was an album that I loved as a teenager.

We’ll deal with the album I should have picked for today in a later post (tomorrow’s post in fact), but for today let’s just enjoy this one.

O2020

O is for On

Echobelly_on

Echobelly were another of those bands that will forever be linked with nineties Britpop, which is a double-edged sword, insofar as they enjoyed quite a bit of success during the height of Britpop but have probably been unfairly tarnished with that brush ever since. They’ve certainly never really had anything like the same levels of popularity in the ensuing years. The health problems of lead singer Sonya Madan immediately following on from the success of second album ‘On’ no doubt stunted their ability to capitalise on their early hits, but in truth, the fickle world of popular music was unlikely to accommodate Echobelly beyond the Britpop era.

The are still going though and still perfectly good at what they do.

If the lyrics of some the tracks on ‘On’ deal with the seedier side of life, it is nonetheless a pretty optimistic and uplifting album.

And no song exemplifies this optimism more than lead single ‘Great Things’.

I couldn’t find the video for it but here’s a performance from one of the great music TV shows of the nineties ‘The White Room’:

 

 

 

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 14: 1977

James Proclaims (4)

And so we are officially in the second half of what really is a self-indulgent set of posts about the music I liked when I was younger.

If you’re just joining me, then welcome. Although you are going to have to work hard to keep up with the others.

If you’ve been with me since the start then don’t quit now, you’re doing really well.

Anyway on to the letter du jour.

Which is ‘N’.

N2020

N is for 1977

Ash1977cover

In 2017 I went to the Reading Festival for the second time in my life. The first time was back in 2000. What prompted me to go to another festival after a 17 year hiatus? Well, mostly the fact that I live down the road from the festival site so I didn’t need to camp and had access to my own bed (and more importantly perhaps, my own toilet) for the duration of the festival.

The line-up of the Reading Festival is often hit and miss so even though I’ve lived quite close since 2013,  I don’t go every year.

But I did in 2017.

And it was pretty good for the most part.

Back in 2000 I knew most of the acts, even the more obscure ones. In 2017 I pretty much knew the headliners and that was it. Because I was older and that’s what happens when you get older.

Anyway, on the bill that year was one Liam Gallagher, ostensibly performing as a solo act, but mainly singing Oasis songs.

And, as previously discussed on this blog, I was a massive Oasis fan.

So you’d imagine I’d have watched the entirety of his set. But, while I did watch some of it, I left before he had finished.

Because, on one of the smaller stages, buried so deep in the festival listings that you could be forgiven for missing them completely, were another band I loved in the nineties.

And that band were Ash.

And they were totally worth missing some of Liam’s set for.

They were awesome.

They were so good, that I bought tickets to see Weezer later that year, partly because Ash were supporting them. (Although I do also really like Weezer, as we’ve also discussed previously.)

Ash never set the world on fire (which is ironic if you think about it), but they’ve always been an easy band to like.

You could argue that once you’ve heard one Ash album, you’ve kind of heard them all.

And you might be right.

But what an album it is.

I quite like all of their albums though, but I do get them mixed up.

Still, my favourite is still their debut, 1977, which is so named because that is the year they were born. It’s also the year that the first Star Wars film came out.

Coincidence?

Well yes.

And largely irrelevant.

Except that they do sample some sound effects from that movie on this album.

Which only makes me love them more.

And although it is a fantastic album, the only song I could pick to play us out was the utterly brilliant ‘Girl from Mars’.

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 13: The Man Who

James Proclaims (4)

The halfway point of the alphabet lies somewhere between ‘M’ and ‘N’.

Which is where we’ll be at the end of this post.

For we are on ‘M’ today.

I’m not sure if the fact that we’re almost halfway there is a source of comfort or distress really.

M2020

M is for The Man Who

Travis_-_The_Man_Who_album_cover

Yesterday’s entry was an album by James, a band who inexplicably have a person’s name (and my name). And Travis are a band who have a person’s name too. Namely Travis. Whoever he is.

Maybe he’s The Man Who. Although in fact he isn’t.

Anyway, weird band name and weird album title aside, ‘The Man Who’ is an album that inspires mixed feelings to say the least. Travis’ first album, ‘Good Feeling’ was an altogether more raucous affair and it was exactly the kind of thing I liked.

This is more melancholic and, well ‘ballady’. And I didn’t love it when it first came out.

But then it grew on me and I did love it.

But I can’t help but feel it was the record that paved the way for the likes of Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol to dominate the guitar-based music scene in the early noughties. Britpop was already on its way out by the time Travis released this record. The Spice Girls and a resurgent post-Take That Robbie Williams seemed to be dominating the charts by the very late nineties and early noughties, and popular music was…well much poppier.

But there was still a place for indie bands and Travis were the band that was supposed to keep flying the flag.

So ‘The Man Who’ was maybe not the record we indie kids needed them to produce.

Still, it was immensely popular and they headlined the 2000 Glastonbury festival off the back of it.

Seriously, they headlined Glastonbury.

I was there.

It’s hard to imagine Travis being that big now, but they really were back then.

Indeed it’s something of a Travis-ty that Coldplay went on to be a much bigger band than Travis.

A year before they headlined Glastonbury, they made the news at the 1999 version of the same festival, after the weather, during what had been a previously dry weekend, turned somewhat wetter during their rendition of their biggest hit ‘Why does it always rain on me?’

I’m not sure if it happened again the following year.

I was there, but I was also drunk.

Anyway, it seems as good a song as any to play us out today.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 12: Laid

James Proclaims (4)

And so we’re at the time of our A-Z journey through nineties music nostalgia when we ask, what the ‘L’?

And ‘L’ is coming, make no mistake about that.

But what fresh ‘L’ is this?

L2020

L is for Laid

James_Laid

I could hardly do a series nineties nostalgia posts predominantly about indie music without including a band that is called James could I?

The fact that they happen to be a fantastic band is really just a bonus.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t as big a fan of James in the nineties as I should have been. I love their music now, but I didn’t know too much about them back when they were arguably at the peak of their powers (although they’ve churned out some pretty good albums in recent times too).

I knew a few of their bigger hits even back then though and I remember them being pretty well-regarded by the NME and Melody Maker, the two publications that largely informed my views of music back then.

Anyway, regardless of whether I was a fan or not at the time, ‘Laid’ is great album and if I’d purchased it when it came out, I would definitely have liked it.

It’s one of my favourite albums now and my tastes haven’t changes that much since then. Or at all in fact.

I could go with any of the singles to sign off this post, but it would be hard to ignore the titular track, ‘Laid’.

So here it is:

 

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 11: K

James Proclaims (4)

We’re up to ‘K’ in the A-Z of albums that I listened to a lot in the nineties.

I’m not sure if there’s anything more to say.

I’ll throw in this sentence as a bit of ‘filler’ before we get to the ‘big reveal’.

Although  I always reveal the album in the title of the post, so I’m not sure why I do these preambles really.

But it’s done now.

So lets move on and see what we have today.

K2020

K is for K

KulaShaker_K

If Kula Shaker released the album ‘K’ today, they would no doubt be accused of cultural appropriation.

But back in the nineties, the idea of over-privileged British guys singing a song entirely in Sanskrit based on a Hindu prayer was…

…no we were all a bit uneasy about it then too.

But for all ‘K’ might be a bit misguided at times, it is not a bad album at all.

I played it a lot at the time and theirs was one of the many gigs I went to.

And they were awesome live.

I don’t know if that makes cultural appropriation acceptable, and I can’t even draw on my superpower of being half-Indian (which I am ethnically if not especially culturally) here to say that it’s OK. But surely it would be worse if they were rubbish?

The most obvious choice of song to see us out today would probably be the aforementioned Sanskrit song, ‘Govinda’.

But I preferred the stupidly-titled ‘Hey Dude’.

 

 

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 10: Jollification

James Proclaims (4)

And so to ‘J’ in this self-indulgent amble down the memory lane of my music-loving youth.

‘J’ was a pretty hard one to select, because, frankly there wasn’t much to choose from.

And I didn’t expect that to be the case, because while I anticipated ‘Q’ and ‘X’ to be problematic, I expect more of ‘J’. It’s the first letter in my name for goodness sake.

But there was so little to choose from that I was always going to have to compromise.

For a while it looked as though Alanis Morrisette was going to take the spot with ‘Jagged Little Pill’ but, while I do think that is a superb album, I’m not certain it’s one I feel much in the way of nostalgia for.

Whereas, I do feel a bit of nineties nostalgia for my choice, even if I don’t especially think it’s a brilliant album.

J2020

J is for Jollification

Lightningseedsjollificags0

It’s hard to imagine that people who like The Lightening Seeds really love The Lightening Seeds. Equally it’s hard to imagine that anyone that doesn’t like them can really be bothered to hate them.

They are just that kind of band. Largely inoffensive, eminently radio friendly but maybe just a bit bland at times.

I can’t imagine making any kind of effort to buy tickets to any of their gigs, but if they happened to be playing at a festival I was already planning on going to, I’d probably catch their set.

I’m definitely in the camp of ‘like them, don’t love them’.

By far their biggest hit was in 1996, when they teamed up with comedians Frank Skinner and David Baddiel to record ‘Three Lions’ – the official song of the England Football team for the Euro 96 Championship. Although England bowed out in the semi-finals of that tournament, the song took on a life of its own. It still seems to be the go-to song for England football fans.

Being Welsh, I’d hardly describe myself as a huge England fan, although Wales’ failure to qualify for many tournaments has meant that I’ve tended to cheer on the England team over the years. Until they inevitably get knocked out. Which they always do.

But Euro 96 was one of England’s better goes at a major tournament and for a time, even the half-hearted ‘fans’ like me got quite excited. I did really like ‘Three Lions’ anyway, but it became so intrinsically linked with the buzz of Euro 96 that even hearing it now invokes a mawkish nostalgia.

So big was ‘Three Lions’, it’s sometimes easy to forget that The Lightening Seeds ever recorded anything else.

But they did.

And you might not love their other stuff, but you probably won’t hate it.

If you’re making a commercial, or putting together a montage showcasing the best bits of a sporting event, then there’s every chance they’ve got a song that would work quite well.

And 1994’s ‘Jollification’ is as good an example of their work as any other.

It’s probably why I feel nostalgic about this album. It does genuinely appear to be made up of tracks that were on TV ads in the nineties. They may not even have been especially memorable ads but I watched a lot of TV in the nineties so The Lightening Seeds must have found a way into my subconscious via the ad-breaks.

The songs in question are pretty good though.

However, the biggest hit of the album wasn’t on an advert that I recall.

But it was on the soundtrack of the 1995 film ‘Clueless’. Which is a soundtrack that also features Supergrass’s ‘Alright’ from yesterday. And some other good songs too. Indeed, being on that soundtrack seems to put this song in pretty good company. And the movie itself was quite good if I recall correctly. But I may be wrong about that, it’s been a while since I saw it last. If indeed I’ve ever seen it.

Anyway the song that is both on that soundtrack and also on the album ‘Jollification’ is called ‘Change’.

And because I wrote about it quite a lot, even though it has nothing to do with ‘Jollification’, here’s ‘Three Lions’.

 

 

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 9: I Should Coco

James Proclaims (4)

Day 9 of this A-Z malarkey and it is time for ‘I’.

The letter ‘I’ obviously.

Not me.

If it was me I’d have said ‘it is time for me’.

Because ‘me’ would be the correct pronoun to use in that sentence.

That’s just basic grammar.

But it’s not time for me, it’s time for ‘I’.

I2020

I is for I Should Coco

I_Should_Coco

When Supergrass released their debut album in 1995, they seemed like they might just be about to become huge.

And outside of the Britpop ‘big 4’ of Oasis, Blur, Pulp and Suede, they may well have been the best of the rest.

But like so many bands of that era, they shone brightly for only the briefest of times really. Their subsequent albums are all fine and they occasionally popped up in the top 40 singles charts in ensuing years.

But Supergrass were really all about the summer of 1995 and that happened to be the summer I turned 16 and completed my GCSE exams.

It was one of the most glorious summers of my youth (when viewed through my rose-tinted nostalgia spectacles) and ‘I Should Coco’ featured heavily on the soundtrack.

No song more so than their very summer-friendly single ‘Alright’.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 8: How To Make Friends And Influence People

James Proclaims (4)

It’s always been my personal belief that the eighth letter of the alphabet should be ‘H’.

Which it is.

I’m not saying I’m responsible for that fact. That’s not for me to say.

If others wish to credit me then that’s up to them.

But, which album has the honour of representing ‘H’ today?

H2020

H is for How To Make Friends And Influence People

Terrorvision-HowToMakeFriends
Terrorvision were a British band that enjoyed most of their success during the ‘Britpop’ period of the nineties.

But Terrorvision were not ‘Britpop’ so much as ‘Britrock’.

They were also not a band that ever took themselves too seriously. Nor really did the British Charts, as Terrovision rarely troubled the top ten.

By far their biggest hit, ‘Tequila’, came in 1999, but aside from encouraging lots of impressionable young people to drink tequila when they might otherwise have not, (ahem), it really came at the end of their modest period of success.

And although their 1996 album ‘Regular Urban Survivors’ did enjoy more sales than this 1994 effort, ‘How To Make Friends And Influence People’ was really the album that brought them to the attention of my friends and I.

I’m not sure, revisiting it now, that it really deserves to go down as one of the great British albums.

But it was a lot of fun back then and it was equally fun revisiting it for this post.

‘Discotheque Wreck’ and ‘Pretend Best Friend’ were both favourites back in the mid-nineties but the track that first brought them to my attention and remains a regular on my playlist is ‘Oblivion’.

James’ Shamelessly Nostalgic A-Z Of Albums That He Liked To Listen To When He Was Young – Part 7: The Great Escape

James Proclaims (4)

And so to the seventh letter of the alphabet. Which was ‘G’ the last time I checked.

And it’s probably safe to assume it still is.

G2020

G is for The Great Escape

Blur_thegreatescape

No-one enjoys a bit of pedantry more than me, but I think it’s reasonable to ignore the definite article in the album’s title and claim with conviction that this is a more than worthy candidate to represent the letter ‘G’.

1994’s ‘Parklife’ was the album that really catapulted Blur into the public consciousness, and arguably the album that confirmed the arrival of Britpop as a ‘thing’, but ‘The Great Escape’ was a solid follow-up and in itself a fairly era-defining album thanks, at least partially, to the faux-rivalry with Oasis that accompanied its release, as it came shortly after Blur’s ‘Country House’ went up against Oasis’ ‘Roll With It’ in the singles charts.

The obvious result of the ‘Battle of Britpop’ was that both Blur and Oasis sold a lot of records, which was great for the Britpop movement as a whole. We were all encouraged to pick a side though, and in that sense I would definitely have been on ‘Team Oasis’.

But I would hardly let a silly thing like that get in the way of me enjoying a great album.

And ‘The Great Escape’ was one of my favourite albums of that time.

Incidentally, although it could be argued that Oasis enjoyed the greater commercial success overall, Blur definitely won the ‘Battle of Britpop’, because it was their single that made it to number 1 in the charts.

And if neither song was particularly representative of the best work of either band, Blur’s ‘County House’ deserves to play us out today because of its undoubted place in British pop music history. Even if it is for a pretty stupid reason when all is said and done.

And actually, even if I was ‘Team Oasis’ I did prefer ‘Country House’ to ‘Roll with It’ if I’m honest…