Wallace Wylie

Death Rattle – The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Oasis and the travesty of British Alternative Rock in the 90s

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By Wallace Wylie

I’d like to talk about The Stone Roses.

In terms of the music this is no hatchet job because ultimately I regard their first album as something of a masterpiece. Maybe it was my age, maybe it was because I had just moved to a new town, or maybe it was because The Stone Roses is a faultless work of genius; who can say? The fact remains that upon being given a taped copy of their first album as a 13-year-old (remember kids, home taping is killing music) I fell head over heels in love and proceeded to play it to death. I bought my own copy with money from my paper round and in turn played that copy to death. In short that album meant, and continues to mean, a great deal to me. Let me also be clear, however, that this is not some exercise in nostalgia or a chance for me to wax poetic about just why The Stone Roses is so utterly fantastic. What the hell am I doing then? Well, since you ask, I’ll tell you. What I intend to do is convince you that despite being a genuinely brilliant album, indeed perhaps because of being a genuinely brilliant album, The Stone Roses is possibly the worst thing that has ever happened to British music. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Let us begin.

What exactly was happening in British music around 1988? According to many, nothing much. The Smiths had recently split and post-punk’s momentum had fizzled out long ago. This attitude belies a certain bias in thinking. To a particular mindset nothing much was happening in 1976 either, only for the entire landscape of music to change over the next two years. What was bubbling up to the surface in 1988 was Britain’s very own dance culture, inspired in large part by developments from America, hip-hop, electro, house and techno to be precise. Taking cues from, among others, Marley Marl, Steinski, Juan Atkins, Phuture and Frankie Knuckles, artists and collectives such as 808 State, Bomb The Bass, The Wild Bunch and A Guy Called Gerald (an ex-member of 808 State) began denting the charts, drawing crowds and generally altering the British public’s conception of music.

1988 was also the year of Acid House and Ecstasy as thousands of people gathered in warehouses and outdoor locations all over Britain to dance and get high. It would be a lie to say that the British alternative music press did not lend some support to this emerging movement; indeed the NME famously put Bomb The Bass on its front cover in ’88 indicating that the popularity of dance music was too big to ignore. However, the dominance of guitar music was, for the most part, unquestioned. Despite many music writers demanding more coverage for both hip-hop and dance, large elements of the UK alternative press seemed to be waiting for the right guitar band to get behind, the right guitar band to believe in. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Stone Roses.

First, let’s back up a little bit. There certainly were options for the guitar lover in ’88, but they could not be described as guitar rock. Ever since Orange Juice ambled onto the scene around ’79, the influence of The Byrds and Love had grown beyond all comprehension. As Orange Juice moved on to more polished, soulful recordings, the abandoned step-children of their Postcard years had been steadily increasing and by the mid-80s had formed enough bands to create something of a movement. Should this movement be called C86, twee or cutie? For argument’s sake, let’s just call it ‘indie’. [Let’s not – pedantic Ed] Sometimes jangly, sometimes noisy, mostly unprofessional, generally cheaply recorded, often off-key and hopelessly romantic, the music was loved and loathed in equal measure.

To some it was a genuinely alternative scene that kept the spirit of melody and song alive without slavishly trying to recapture the sound of another era. To others it was hopelessly fey, studenty, apolitical and out-of-date. Compared to the masculine proselytizing of Public Enemy, the lovelorn yearnings of a band like The Pastels seemed ‘girly’ and lacking in testosterone. This made sense seeing as the indie scene in general had generated the highest amount of female participation since punk rock’s heyday. What a dilemma for the music fan not completely sold on dance and hip-hop but who nevertheless still wanted to ROCK!!! In this environment, the success of The Stone Roses becomes somewhat understandable, even if it doesn’t quite explain the legendary aura that surrounded them and, indeed, continues to surround them. With that in mind, let’s get to the heart of the matter.

(continued overleaf)

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65 Responses to Death Rattle – The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Oasis and the travesty of British Alternative Rock in the 90s

  1. Suzy N March 24, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Wow. Particularly enjoyed the ripping apart of Screamadelica. It took me half an hour to plough through this, but worth every second.

  2. Ken March 24, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Couldn’t agree more. Britpop was a parade of reactionary mediocrity fueled by Q Magazine and a sense of arrogance that was actually a punk hand-me-down. You don’t mention Elastica though. Is that because they were girls or because they were great?

  3. Everett True March 24, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Awesome piece, Wallace – although I would disagree with you as when the rot actually set in. I would say it began much earlier, during the early to mid 80s: neatly summarised by the breathtaking curtailment of imagination and musical vision that took place between the NME‘s ‘legendary’ two cassette tapes, C81 and C86. Read more here.

    Oh, and Neil Kulkarni (for one) thinks you are wrong to even believe in that first Stone Roses album.

  4. Muzz March 24, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Punk kicked big holes in a lot of things, unfortunately like the car body shop that uses polyfilla and shredded newspaper, they were holes that could only be covered up for so long. The mid 70s with its post-war austerity giving way to strikes and social decay, was rife for the reactionary youth, bored of the overtly glorified glamsters like Bowie and Ferry, waiting at the jetty for the likes of the Dolls and Iggy to dock, only to find them to smacked out to give a fuck. NYC boasted its pre-punk 1000mph Beach Boys and rehashed beat poets, McLaren soaked it up and stuck it in his suitcase and gave the truly ennui’d generation some kind of spark (along with Bernie Rhodes). It was never going to last…. but some people created great things out of the spirit (not least Mr. Stephen Morrisey)… then you got the Stone Roses. The sneering swagger of council estate Manchestoh singing pretty ditties just never rang true for me. by the time they turned into some kind of dance music act with Jimmy Page wanking over it, they actually sounded like they’d created some kind of sound but I could never really warm to them. Oasis did it much better and I think thats why the Roses will never reform. Why bother just to wear a paper crown? I liked the initial sense of rebellion Oasis threw up but then it was all Cool Britannia and drinkies at Number 10. The older and wiser even then knew that Blair was just Thatcher in a stuttering oik kind of way and a red tie. Ultimately you HAVE to evaluate music and quantify what you believe to be the best of an era. You cant just put a line through music when John McGeoch became too drunk to perform with the Banshees, when Mick Jones became unbearable in The Clash camp…. then again…. maybe we just should.

  5. polarbearisdying March 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    “[fans and press] rallied to the classic rock flag and in doing so helped destroy the forward momentum of alternative music”

    did it really? how do we know? does music move with momentum, or by opposition, or in an entirely more messy way? where does it move to?

  6. KennyG March 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    An article written by a music journalist for music journalists.

  7. Retch March 24, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    This is an excellent piece of writing and I agree with almost all of it (although I think The Stone Roses’ first album is a big bag of wank). However, I think you could argue that The Smiths provided a similar excuse for the music press to turn away from the fey synth-pop which was dominating the UK music scene in 1983. The difference was that for The Smiths, camp, homo-eroticism and outsider status were just as important and rock classicism. I’d have liked to see you touch more on the lantant sexism, homophobia and racism which still pervades the UK music press, Wallace, and the fact that innivations by gay people and people of different ethnicities are only allowed in the mainstream once they have been filtered though the acceptable white hetero male psyche.

    Having read this, I’ve come up with an idea: I’d like to propose a moratorium on white, heterosexual men making music with guitars for the next decade. They can make music with absolutely anything else, and they can still use drums as much as they want. They just can’t use guitars. That way, maybe they’ll come up with something that’s actually original. It’s for the good of everybody, I think.

  8. Martin James March 24, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    I also wish the press would propose an alternative history. A number of years ago I edited a a short-lived magazine called Flipside (UK). In out millennial issue we offered a top 100 list of the greatest albums no one else would be talking about. It included artists like Throbbing Gristle, Parliament, James White and the Blacks, The Meters, The Slits, Defunkt, Fugazi, The 13th Floor Elevators etc. In effect it was just another history.. one of numerous histories, each an unending conversation with no real first or last word.

    What worries me now is that the press and a number of music sites just repeat the canon, replay the same conversations with well-defined first and last words without stopping to think… Sgt Peppers was awful, Sceamadelica was quite average, Stone Roses were trite, Radiohead aren’t worth the bandwidth, Nirvana were at their best before the first album and after Courtney’s influence came through (everything in between wasn’t all that)… and that it is possible that a lot more of the greatest albums of all time were created by black artists, or, heaven forbid, women, than currently proposed!

    To me the first Stone Roses album sounded like an arse first rush backwards in time. It embraced all of those tired West Coast cliches and dressed them in new clothes… only Fools Gold hinted at something interesting, largely because it acknowledged the more immediate past.

    Ironically I hear the exact same cover band pastiche leanings in Stone Roses as I do in Oasis. I also hear the influence of acid house far more clearly in Oasis, who despite their obsession with Liverpool’s golden boys (whose Sgt Pepper is possibly the worst example of the accusations you level at ‘Screamadelica’), could only have produced those hands in the air, rushing anthemic chorus’ after experiencing ecstacy (which was still quite rare, or too expensive in 1988 despite media myth saying otherwise – acid was the drug of choice).

    Screamadelica was a reaction to the times and important in that it opened the rave doors to a lot of guitar kids… just as Tackhead Soudsystem brought in the dub heads and Meat Beat Manifesto’s late 80s output opened the doors for the EBM, industrial scenes..and just as Andrew Eldritch’s The Sisterhood introduced Goths to the dancefloor (all of these records could be heard at acid house parties). Sadly Screamadelica was given the media space because Bobby looked suitably rock’n’roll wasted and gave good quote and comfortably sat within hegemonic structures of rock and media mythology.

    So what really was going in in the press was the classic use of duality. Waste down, body moving, physically reactive in opposition to cerebral, contained, artistically proactive. Producer driven dancefloor disco fodder versus real, emotional, heartfelt rock, Disposable DJ tools against well-crafted, timeless songs. Black versus white?

    Of course the over simplicity of this duality was torn apart years ago. Much music is simultaneously black and white. That whole head versus body thing (black funk versus white rock) destroyed by some of what followed immediately after punk. I’d hoped.

    The problem here though is that electronic music brought with it a Year Zero mythology of implied re-invention. For electronic music the zeitgeist was always future facing… constantly moving forward in an embrace of the values and ideologies of Modernity – but with a Post-Modern sheen.

    Guitar music was suffering (or embracing) the post modern ideologies of the post punk era of (almost) anything goes when ransacking the past (or the past as proposed through the gate-kept rock canon), the collapse of distinction between low and high art, the end of art for arts sake, the collapse of the aura, the end of ideological depth etc.

    Here’s where it gets confusing. The music press required the classic modernist band (re-inventing, re-creating, pushing down and redefining boundaries) but couldn’t embrace the dance scene that was actually doing this… it was afterall gay black disco music from America… and it wasn’t esaily defined by commerce driven star system.

    But the press could embrace all of those bands that put on the clothes of rebellion and implied creative tension – Stone Roses etc, which in turn evoked a previous ‘golden era’ of (apparently) great, straight, white, British, creative guitar music (fucking Sgt bloody awful Pepper and that sodding Hearts Club Band).

    So the media embrace was of the ideologically empty whose art was based on mythologised notions of authenticity. Perfect for the music press which deals in stories, rumours and claims to absolute ‘4 Real’-ness. A position from which the press have never recovered. And neither has mainstream white guitar music.

    And what of electronic music? The problem came with the industry’s demands for the dreaded full length album. If your focus is on the future, your aim to is to continually re-define, then your art is in opposition to the album. The dance single (like the early punk 7″ singles) seeks to define the here and now, before being replaced by the next great moment defining tune. Longevity isn’t the issue, disposability isn’t a problem – this is planned obsolescence at its finest. But the album is intended to be ‘timeless’, it has to become an iconic emblem of its era, something for future generations to behold and borrow from. It should be a full-length listening experience. This just doesn’t fit into dance music’s original aims and created another Cartesian split… (neither did it work with punk but that might be another argument).

    Which brings us back to those dualities… music for dancing vs music for listening; early Beatles vs Sgt Pepper; disposable vs timeless; throwaway dancefloor fodder vs serious listening experience; body vs head; fake machine music vs real human music; fake vs real; inauthentic vs authentic; black vs white; gay vs straight.

    Operating within the confines of these dualities, and defined by rock hegemony the press had no alternative but to shape its late 80s/ most of the 90s output around the empty gestures of the Stone Roses, Oasis, Blur etc… hell, they even imposed a duality on Oasis and Blur (Northern working class dole queue rock Vs southern, middle class art school op). The media could also only support the dance acts whose output adhered to that same rock hegemony (the media friendly, personality driven, album focused acts like Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Aphex Twin, Orbital etc).

    And, by constantly promoting ideological emptiness… well, the question is whether popular music and its associated press have yet to move on from this period.

  9. Niall March 24, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    I have linked to this at Dangerous Minds. Really excellent article – I think I agree with almost every single word.

    One aspect that is not brought up here, another negative legacy of the Roses, is that they are the archetypal “one album” band. They set the precedent we see now of bands having to make their “statement” with their debut album and being considered “over” after that. I don’t think you need me to show examples of this kind of thing. And again, this is not something the Stone Roses set out to do on purpose, its just another unfortunate trickle down effect of their success (and subsequent disappearance fr 5 years).

  10. Niall March 24, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    @Retch – bang on, the reactionary rot of the Brit press set in earlier than the Roses. The Smiths, to me, were the first band who primarily looked to the past as opposed to the future, though you are right about them having homoerotica and outsider-status on their side. A few great tunes, granted, but their reactionary tendencies always put me off.

    It’s kind of extraordinary thinking back on it now how Oasis claimed to be influenced by the Smiths. Their geographical (and I guess their sex and skin colour) location is the only possible thing I can think of that links them.

  11. Niall March 25, 2011 at 12:10 am

    @ Martin – interesting point about the dichotomy of dance music and the full length album.

    Surely digital distribution technology will right this wrong? I think it might already be happening as consumers now are not forced to buy a glut of mediocre tracks to get to the one or two songs they want.

  12. Wallace Wylie March 25, 2011 at 3:13 am

    There’s lots of side issues connected to this essay that I would have liked to have fitted in but my internal editor was panicking and telling me to cut back. The main one, which was more than hinted at, was the fact that dance music was only accepted by large elements of the UK press after it had been hetrosexualised and made rock ‘n’ roll. The way Gillespie and co tried to make dance cool by basically saying “It’s still rock ‘n roll to me” was particularly depressing. Dance music was a different culture altogether, but suddenly in the indie-disco years it became appropriate for blokes to listen to bangin’ techno cos it was apparently all part of the rock ‘n’ roll tradition and there was nothing fruity about it. This despite the fact that, as pointed out, disco and the subsequent electronic music of 80s America was predominantly gay and black. Both Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles were openly gay, as was Arthur Russell. I’ve yet to read Bobby Gillespie talking about any of them. He’s much more interested in talking about some jam session with Can that probably didn’t even happen.

    In regards to The Smiths, I think even though they were more traditionally orientated, in the beginning Johnny Marr’s guitar patterns were really quite astounding, without playing into any obvious rock ‘n’ roll bullshit, and Morrissey’s whole persona was completely out of the ordinary and against classic rock type. I like “Strangeways Here We Come” but I get the distinct impression that Johnny Marr was out of ideas. I know there’s a big Johnny Marr faction but to me without Morrissey they would have been ordinary, even with the early guitar playing of Marr.

    I think the reason disco, dance and early hip-hop isn’t talked about more is because some of the best songs have to be sought out on compilations, and there isn’t some neat and tidy way of gathering up the info. Throw in also that dance producers were fond of multiple pseudonyms, and that many didn’t release a defining album to make a best-of list and suddenly a whole culture is ignored.

  13. Glyph March 25, 2011 at 3:41 am

    If the words of a Yank matter here, I’d like to chime in – first with agreement on some of your main points (Screamadelica/Oasis were/are terribly overrated; the first Stone Roses LP is likewise unimpeachable) but then to suggest that although you do allude to it several times, you mostly avoid the larger point – the complicity of the Brit music media machine (MNE, MM, Select) in foisting the substandard crap on us all, and breathlessly acting as if there is (or should be) anything like a ‘scene’.

    Unfortunately this piece accepts THAT axiom as read (by implying that if Britpop had not sucked all the air out of the room, there would have been a different/better scene) and so perpetuates the underlying issue. “The Stone Roses” (and “The Smiths” and “Underwater Moonlight” and “Blue Lines” and “Selected Ambient Works”, etc. etc.) matter and endure because they are *good* – not because they belonged to any scene or movement or lineage, or are even always entirely original, or have a particular political viewpoint inherent or ascribed – but because they are well-written, rhythmically interesting, melodic, textured, well-played albums full of hooks that burrow into yr brain. Great songs and albums (the work) endure – artists and scenes cannot/do not (heck, arguably *should* not).

    I submit that an overtly partisan ‘political’ view of music (by which I do not mean that the music *itself* is political, but that the person championing it is partisan for one style or genre or scene over another) is itself to blame for the disillusionment we all sometimes feel.

    I’ll take a great song or album over its artist, and ESPECIALLY over a scene, any day. You think that artists both good and bad, original and derivative, powerful and limp, didn’t come out of the contemporaneous ‘grunge’ or ‘electronica/acid house’ whilst their putative ‘scenes’ were largely populated by media-manufactured garbage? Do the zillions of Stones imitators even matter (except the ones that have 1 good track on a ‘Nuggets’ comp soemwhere)? Do we hold the best artists responsible for their pale imitators?

    Or do we hold the unimaginative journalists that are pushing the dreck responsible? How many times was some crappy ‘next Smiths’ or ‘New Stone Roses’ band bandied about in the Brit music press?

    You do allude to the infamous ‘build ’em up/tear ’em down’ mentality that, with the advent of the internet, has gone from being mostly a British phenom (due to larger geography and population, the US was both far slower on the uptake of new and inventive music, yet often also far more loyal once accepted, through sheer mass and inertia) to a worldwide one (the internet has effectively shrunk the world and sped up the conversation to produce the same effect everywhere – a dizzying blur of mostly crap bands and scenes, championed one week, dismissed the next).

    Anyway, I realize this is probably coming across as more combative than I intended so I should stop now. It may not seem so, but I really did enjoy the piece, I love/hate some of the artists mentioned equally, and a good rant is always appreciated. Thanks for letting me post mine.

  14. Princess Stomper March 25, 2011 at 5:28 am

    I guess I just had a much wider view of music in the 90s, and thus had a much better time. (We’re about the same age, Wallace.)

    I loved Screamadelica. I didn’t really care if they were leaping on a bandwagon or if their “own” material was weak (as opposed to the remixes that comprised the album), they were great songs. Still are.

    Oasis, though, fucking sucked. Creation was a great label – I can listen to the bands they used to have on there, stuff like Silverfish and Swervedriver and the Boo Radleys, and enjoy them now. It was just Oasis that were unbelievably dire. I mean really, Alan McGee, what were you thinking? That band did not belong on that label.

    Music was better when we were kids. I found some old VHS tapes a couple of months back from when I used to tape the ITV Chart Show every week, and sat down and watched maybe a dozen episodes. There was barely a bad track on there. The indie chart, rock chart and dance chart, you could just sit down and watch it and enjoy every song – but the (pop) top 10 was pretty weak most of the time.

    The indie labels were pouring money into finding and developing new talent – there was the sort of investment that was needed to foster creativity and labels would pay for promotion. That barely happens any more. It barely happened after Oasis got big.

    The thing about Melody Maker was that it was really only in the mid-to-late 90s that it got myopic about music. Before that, they featured bands like Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails, even Cubanate. I didn’t distinguish much between indie and industrial and still don’t know what to do with Finitribe or Renegade Soundwave.

    My reaction to the (British) music press not covering interesting bands was to just stop buying the music press. The good music was out there, and if American magazines were the ones writing about them then I’d buy those instead. I barely noticed how, by 1996, almost every band I was listening to was American.

    Of course, even most of those bands stopped innovating after a while and it’s pretty hard these days to find really great bands, but they’re out there – not tied to one label or “scene”. That’s where blogs like this come in.

    The Strokes, though. How can the Strokes influence anyone? That’s like being post-Babyshambles! Yes, I’m officially old. Music these days sucks and it was better when we were young.

  15. Princess Stomper March 25, 2011 at 5:31 am

    (Sorry, that’s a bit of an assumption that I had a wider taste than yours. I just meant that I didn’t mourn indie so much because I was into other things. Maybe you were too.)

  16. Pistola March 25, 2011 at 8:36 am

    That was a fantastic read for a Friday morning. It’s all too easy in hindsight isn’t it? The fact is that there was pleasure to be gained from a lot of this music at the time, even if in the back of your mind you knew it had no chance of standing the test of time. Everyone knew at the time that Oasis released nothing good after Definitely Maybe (look up Q’s scathing review of Morning Glory), that Primal Scream were inconsistent at best, that Blur jumped the shark on Great Escape (but redeemed themselves afterwards), and that British guitar music generally was completely derivative and unimaginative. Still didn’t stop us buying the albums though, it was the best we had, rightly or wrongly. Of course, anyone with a brain also knew that the future of music was safely in the hands of anyone with talent and a 909 and a 303. Those of us lucky enough to have a few crates of dance 12″s from ~1985 to ~2005 know that British guitar music was only complementary at best to the truly great music of the last 25 years.

  17. polarbearisdying March 25, 2011 at 8:39 am

    nobody has attempted to tackle my question.

    i really don’t see much evidence for the idea that music works in eras or scenes like the article describes. i think these are devices used by mainstream music press to simplify an impossibly diverse musical universe. ultimately to sell magazines and to give the idea that they are on top of and above what’s going on, understanding everything, picking out the patterns and explaining them, and then we will be in no doubt that they are necessary.

    so i wonder, can it all be traced back to the stone roses? or is that just another neatly packaged story? is cause and effect so simple?

  18. Retch March 25, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Hey Wallace, from what I’ve read, Marr had plenty of ideas for Strangeways… but they involved things Morrissey hated, such as synths and drum machines. That’s why Marr started looking outside the Smiths for collaborators and what ultimately led to the band’s demise. And Morrissey goes and uses drum machines on Viva Hate, but he’s always been a contrary bugger.

  19. charleston March 25, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Well said. Britpop was “alternative” music’s Simply Red moment.

  20. John Calvert March 25, 2011 at 10:45 am

    fools gold invented indie dance? bollocks.

  21. Glyph March 25, 2011 at 10:46 am

    @ polarbearisdying – That is I think part of what I am trying to say. I don’t think it is inherently stupid to assert that much artistic impulse is contrarian – rebelling against or attempting to supersede the prior regime, and sometimes that means things move ‘forward’ (new tech/structures/themes – synthpop and hell even prog fit this model) and sometimes they move back (the so-called ‘punks’ strip it all back down to basics again). Nor do I deny that scenes of like-minded artists may coalesce, through affinity or circumstance or shared influences and vision. What I DO take issue with is blaming the stagnation of art solely on artists that are derivative of those that inspired them. I mean, sure, some scorn may be deserved; but mostly I am indifferent to these copycats, and quite often a great artist will start as a copycat on the way to realizing his own vision. But I think there is something to your idea that the ‘scene’ is largely the creation of the journalist – why, it takes him to connect the disparate strands strands into a ‘scene’, he comes us with a name for it (Britpop? Shoegaze?) , and when it inevitably collapses (due to lack of ideas, or boredom, or the fact that 95% of everything is crap so you got like max 10 good bands out of whatever it was) he blames the scene itself; his own role in hyping its lesser lights remains unaddressed.

  22. Pistola March 25, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I always though Noel Gallagher professed to be influenced far more by The La’s – a band who had no qualms about admitting they wanted to sound exactly like it was still 1965. Oasis were a derivative of a derivative.

  23. John Calvert March 25, 2011 at 10:52 am

    woops. always read on. I hate screamdelica. great article.

  24. Wallace Wylie March 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    “i think these are devices used by mainstream music press to simplify an impossibly diverse musical universe. ultimately to sell magazines and to give the idea that they are on top of and above what’s going on, understanding everything, picking out the patterns and explaining them, and then we will be in no doubt that they are necessary.”

    Is that the reason though? How do you know? Is this just a neatly packaged story? Isn’t it more complex than that?

  25. Wally March 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Great article and an interesting perspective, although I think there are millions of different opinions out there and don’t agree with all the statements made, it was still a joy to read. I prefer The High to the Stone Roses (even though they may not have been that original – very few bands are). I enjoyed Primal Scream before they got huge and loved Creation in the early years a lot more (yes even the Weather Prophets and The Legend!). The Smiths had great songs but The Wild Swans guitars and singing were much better and at times One Thousand Violins were doing the Smiths meet Echo better then the originals. I loved The Soft Boys and glad they were mentioned and if you love real rock n roll, people should listen to The Sound or early Pere Ubu. In listening and enjoying a lot of music for many years, I find it’s very rarely the music that gets popular that I have enjoyed the most and it’s usually good to stay away from it. Sometimes it is the bands who do only one single that are timeless (The Looking Glass – Mirror Man and Apple Boutique – Love Resistance are singles I still love listening to). Think for your self and explore as there is so much music – old and new to discover.

  26. polarbearisdying March 25, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    “Is that the reason though? How do you know? Is this just a neatly packaged story? Isn’t it more complex than that?”

    too many questions?

  27. polarbearisdying March 25, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    @glyph – i liked those ideas. they helped answer the questions revolving in my head.

  28. Everett True March 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    (from Facebook)
    David Callahan, Charlie Inskip, Sean McNulty and 5 others like this.

    Joseph Kyle
    i can’t blame England for producing Oasis. however, it was a bit worrisome when Primal Scream decided to stop being British and start being Southern rockers…

    Bill Cummings
    The man has a point. However he disregards the pre-britpop (echobelly, lush, elastica, strangelove, marion, suede, the autuers et al) period, which was arguably more interesting. And the fact that its no revalation to anyone, that a music media invented term like ‘britpop’ is built on the sands of populism and bandwagon jumping….However I’m not sure you can blame the Stone Roses album entirely it was just reflective quite a few strands at the time. And whilst many of the more lauded bands of the period were very derivative, white, male, and guitar based(reflecting their chums in the media?) at least some of them had a bit of personality, and pretention which is sadly lacking in the current landfill lot….(Brother, Vaccines et al).

    Joseph Kyle
    other than sonically, what difference is there between Oasis and, say, Tim McGraw? both represent the manifestations of patriotism and masculinity. aside from the loutish nature of Liam Gallagher, and their unapologetic borrowing from music that influenced them, i didn’t dislike Oasis. Noel is a talented songwriter; Liam is an energetic, enigmatic front-man who provides some great quotes and hilarious press.

    David Roberto
    yeah but remember The Rolling Stones went southern too for awhile, its like the template that keeps getting referenced.

    Joseph Kyle
    well, i’d more likely say that Southern rockers were emulating what the Stones did, mixing the blues-rock thing.

    Robert B Parkinson
    thanks for the lame history lesson.
    if MBV hadn’t debt-riddled Creation , would they have signed Oasis?

    Mike Middleton
    Great article. Oasis, god bless em, only the band the Rutles could have been! The girls disappeared from clubs, to replaced by boorish “lads”, miserable times. Cock and roll. Agree with you that pre-britpop has been slightly overlooked. Blur vs Suede came befor blur vs oasis. And The Auteurs were, without doubt, the finest band of the 90’s, New Wave, an oft overlooked classic…

    John Bourke
    It’s an excellent piece (at least I think so anyway).

    Alexander Nutt
    ‎+1 on The Auteurs, Have you read Luke Haines book “Bad Vibes”?

    Mike Middleton
    Not yet, It’s a bugger to get in HK! Hoped for a kindle edition. He’s got a new one coming out in July too. I met him while drunk once, and blurted out that New Wave “was the difinitive indie album of the nineties” (this is till maintain) he looked thoughtful and said “you know, i totally agree with you” The man’s a genius…

    Alexander Nutt
    it’ll be worth the wait, trust me on that one

    Lucy Gulland
    Yes, the Auteurs were the black sheep of the Britpop family; Luke Haines is a genius songwriter. Wickedly funny bookwriter too.

    Wallace Wylie
    I just wanted to add that while I considered having a part of the essay that dealt with good music from the 90s, it was getting long enough (Everett would agree) so since I didn’t consider it essential to the overall point it got jettisoned. There was some stuff going on before Britpop became what it became but, again, it would have added too much to an already long article. That said, I remember Strangelove getting this absolutely scathing review at the hands of Taylor Parkes in Melody Maker. A classic.

    Mike Robbo
    Although it was an interesting, thought-provoking article, rather in the mould of the Sacred Cows column in Uncut years ago, I thought the object of the ire was a tad hackney’d. Britpop was shit? Oasis were derivative? Primals were Waetherall’s creation? Hardly new claims, and being reactionary for the sake of it. Better to take pot shots at The Smiths, Joy Division, MBV, punk or God forbid, ET’s bezza mates Nirvana. Oasis and Britpop bashing is soooooo mainstream….that said I enjoyed the article, well written and thought provoking. Wouldn’t have anything to do with the current Screamadelica hysteria, would it?

    Joseph Kyle
    is it because it wasn’t played out in the US the reason I don’t mind the Britpop phenomenon?

    Mike Robbo
    Nah, it’s just British music snobbery. If you championed these bands at their inception, you *have* to slag them off at a later date to prove your cool to other believers who arrived late to the party…

    Joseph Kyle
    oh, you mean like how Slowdive got Single of the Week and much love for Just For a Day, but the same critics called them “crap” when they released Souvlaki?

    Everett True
    Am I the ONLY person here who preferred the Stone Roses’ second album to their first?

    Joseph Kyle
    with the dozens of Stone Roses releases in the US, I’ll assume you mean the third. It has its moments. But then again, I think Happy Mondays’ Yes, Please was a great record.

    Everett True
    Same critics, Joseph … or *different* critics? Might seem like semantics to you, but the differentiation is crucial.

    Joseph Kyle
    true, that–but then again the “UK Press,” for Americans, is this amorphous thing; all we hear is the bitching about the UK press; we don’t necessarily see the “personalities” that you guys would. Is it because in the US we think in terms of “editors”?

    Mike Robbo
    Probably not, but there goes another great piece of received wisdom: their second album was shite. No it wasn’t, it was fkn mega. Ditto Be Here Now. Unfortunately, people are too concerned with basing their opinions on mainstream media critics who spoon feed them their thoughts. (That was about Everett’s post about Second Coming…)

    Joseph Kyle
    I guess that’s the record biz’s fault, especially here in the US, and especially in the 1990s–spend mega bucks on promoting that first album, reap rewards, and then tell bands “okay, you’ve got a big name now, you sell your second one on your merits.” most bands can’t. that’s what kills great bands–because people think “lack of publicity” = “lack of quality.” it’s a damn shame. Oasis got lucky in that the second record came out in the same year as the first one did–the momentum from the first sold the second (aside from it being a good record, that is). had there been a year’s lag, i don’t think they would have “broke” in the US, with Be Here Now being the sophomore slump record…

    Wallace Wylie
    I live in America now so I had no idea there was any “Screamadelica” hysteria. Good luck on my part, bad luck for the UK. I deliberately didn’t spend much time on talking about Oasis’ music for the reasons mentioned. I could be wrong, but in all my time reading the music press I’ve never read a single put down of Primal Scream. They coast along pretty easily. The Weatherall part was pretty minimal. I think there’s plenty going on in the article other than the obvious hits which I pretty much had to make and tried to keep short. “Be Here Now” is fucking awful though. I thought that when it came out and I think it now. I love about half of “Second Coming”, but the words are a joke. Completely beyond abysmal. Also, I’d gladly have a go at MBV, but you know someone will just accuse me of doing it just to get a reaction, etc, etc.

    Everett True
    I can’t quite recall which single it was for, but I remember doing an interview with Bobby G (post-Loaded) in a London cafe which started thus. “So Bobby. You’ve changed your sound three times in recent years. Does this make you the new Soup Dragons then?” Bobby stood up, and started walking out… We had to restart that interview THREE times

    Wallace Wylie
    Primal Scream are the old Soup Dragons.

    Joseph Kyle
    The Soup Dragons are simply the new Shamen

    Graham Newbury
    you kids crack me up

    Wallace Wylie
    I have a fondness for the song “Boss Drum”. Just putting that out there.

    Alistair Fitchett
    But really, in all honesty, don’t you find it terribly difficult to care much, if at all, about what records appear in lists cooked up by dullards like Q or whoever the hell? *shrugs in an Alan Partridge manner*

    Mike Robbo
    Be Here Now was universally critically lauded on release. Not a single bad review. It was only a few months/years later that it started to get panned. I think it’s a fine record made by men with too much gak in their pockets. Except for oasis die hards, it’s the point when ALL sheeple turned on them. I’ll just have to take your word for it that you hated it on release. I certainly didn’t meet anyone who hated it in the summer of 97…

  29. Everett True March 25, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    (from Facebook)
    Richard Morris, Stephen Delaney, Neil Kulkarni and 5 others like this.

    Matt Etherton
    That aint a bad article

    Roddy Thomson
    I was just saying the other week, that Primal Scream are only as good as their producers (Andy Weatherall, The Orb, Kevin Shields), and left to their own devices it’s all business-as-usual Hand clapping, arse wiggling, stones-aping, boogie-woogie. Wankers.

    Wallace Wylie
    Everett True just said something I wrote reminds him of Neil Kulkarni. Oh look, Neil Kulkarni likes this. Pay no attention to me as I weep quietly in the corner. Move along, nothing to see here.

  30. Niall March 26, 2011 at 2:06 am

    There’s been some interesting feedback to this article on Dangerous Minds (not as interesting as here, natch), but I thought I would share one comment and reply with you. My reply may seem excessive, but the comment really got my goat and simply reeks of the kind of thing that was parroted at people who dared the question the Britpop hegemony at the time, particularly by the music press who used it as an excuse for all their empty hype of new bands and excessive coverage of Blur and Oasis). You know what I mean “Oasis are number one so IT MUST BE GOOD” and “it’s what real people want to hear!” and all that bullshit. Only now, at a safe remove of many years, am I finally able to articulate just why this kind of bullshit is so wrong. What’s more infuriating is that almost 20 years later people are STILL parroting this crap (which itself was a good 20 years out of date in the Nineties). Fucking rockists! Grrrr…

    So this is the comment:

    Bottlekid says:
    “I don’t know, I just don’t get the point of the article. Supposedly, I like Blur because NME did? And bands like 808 State and Aphex Twin are not less popular because the music press failed to promote them, it’s because that style of music is less popular. Get over it. Those bands make music but they don’t make “songs”. The average guy in the street is not going to start humming an 808 State song to himself after a few beers in the pub. He’s going belt out a few choruses of Don’t Look Back in Anger.”

    And this is my reply:

    Niall says:
    @ Bottlekid – the point of this article is pretty clear really. Think of it as being the equivalent of all the posts on here berating Glenn Beck and Fox News, only that it’s not about the news media this time but the music media. The media in general tries to dictate to the people what “normal” is and what is socially acceptable, which quite often does not reflect reality.

    Although you are not guilty of this directly, your comment veers very close to that hackneyed old arguement that was constantly wheeled out by the MSM back in the day that “it’s popular therefore it must be good”. There’s so much wrong with this arguement that it seems pointless to explain. But I will try anyway.

    Firstly, there’s a double standard – isn’t it GREAT that Oasis are so popular!? But TERRIBLE that the infinitely more popular Spice Girls are just so damn popular?!

    Secondly, the music media, much like the real media, like to pretend that they themselves don’t exist, and have no power or sway over what it is that people think. If you can’t see the flaw in that logic, seriously, you’re on the wrong website.

    And thirdly, this whole bullshit notion of “the common man”. It’s really just a euphemism for two things – either it means people who don’t actually buy or collect music (apart from 2 or 3 albums a year at the supermarket – and using these people as a barometer of taste rather than just popularity is completely bogus) or it refers to the working class. As if a huge stratosphere of the population has got one single, uniform taste, and is not actually a diverse mish mash of cultures and likes/dislikes. Generally the people who rabbit on about the common man/real people/real music etc are themselves from more priviledged classes who have fetishized a perceived notion of what “working class” means.

    And again this feeds back into the first and second points. What I find particularly annoying about this outdated-by-40-years rockist outlook is the lie that “real people” like “real music”. THEY DON’T. By definition the general population likes POPULAR MUSIC. Sometimes this means rock bands like Oasis, or say the Foo Fighters. Sometimes this means dance acts like the Prodigy or Cascada. In the past 10 years it is more likely to have been hip-hop acts like Eminem and 50 Cent. But more than anything else it’s Lady Gaga/Rhianna/Black Eyed Peas/Katy Perry/Kanye West/Cheryl Cole. You know, popular music. And in 2011 I think you’ll find that a drunk person stumbling home from the pub (man OR woman) is more likely to be belting out “P-P-P-Poker Face!!” or “I’ve haaad the time of my life… DURTEE BIT!” than “Don’t Look Back In Anger”. So I guess that must mean that Lady Gaga is better than Oasis, right?

    But you know, I’m glad you listen to Blur because you like it. Liking it is the only reason you should listen to anything. But these kinds of clichéd comments also suggest that people who listen to un-popular or obscure music do so not because they like it, but rather to appear cool and different. Which is total bullshit, and another example of media forces trying to create or define what is acceptable or not.

    Oh yeah, and 808 State’s “In Yer Face” takes a MASSIVE DUMP on anything that Oasis have ever done. That’s not an opinion btw, that is simply an empirical fact.


    Well, it’s only taken me about 15 years to get all that off my chest, but it feels good!

  31. Neil Kulkarni March 26, 2011 at 3:23 am

    I once wrecked a cover-interview (for another journalist) by calling Green Day ‘necrophiles’ in an album review. I think folk are being a tad selective if they think that all that went on in the press was cheerleading for Britpop. Myself, Everett, Simon Price, Taylor Parkes at MM, and plenty of other writers spent much of the mid-90s slagging that stuff off, loving the gold that did emerge (pulp, sfa) and also positing alternatives from elsewhere and other genres. Would agree though that the rise of Oasis put the shits up cowardly editors who from then on operated dimly and frantically to follow what they perceived ‘the kids’ were into. Still, best not to get me started down that route . . .

  32. Wallace Wylie March 26, 2011 at 6:06 am

    I know. I read MM voraciously and the first thing I did was look for articles/interviews/reviews by yourself and the exact people you mentioned. Of all the bands strongly associated with Britpop Pulp are far and away the best. Christ, I remember my jaw dropping after seeing them play “Lipgloss” on The Word. I had to streamline the essay though, and I can imagine it being a little off-putting if there had been a very small paragraph in the middle that said:

    On the other hand, Neil Kulkarni, Everett True, Simon Price and Taylor Parkes were regularly giving Britpop a good kick in the arse over at Melody Maker. Thank you. It’s the only thing that kept me going. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Primal Scream are shite.

    On second thoughts, maybe I should have.

  33. Martin James March 26, 2011 at 6:21 am

    @Neil Kulkarni I once got a death threat from a fan of no less than Supergrass for slagging off one of their awful singles for MM’s singles page. Naturally I went onto do the same about their live shows, albums and anything else they polluted the air with… never met that fan – although their manager recently told me it might have been him! 🙂
    Yup, a lot of us in Maker Towers regularly slated the Brit Popsters (we didn’t all think Suede were that good). And many of us fought time and again for electronic music to get some proper coverage (it wasn’t just Simon Reynolds as has been suggested elsewhere – not by him I might add)…. which is why the paper was so damn good.
    And where we trod, the NME was sure to follow a few weeks later with their ‘exclusive’.
    Shame about Romo though 🙂

  34. james March 26, 2011 at 6:27 am

    God , Stone Roses and Oasis are lad rock! , Screamadelica isn’t very good!! KLF , innovative!!

    Do me a favour please fella , re-read everything you wrote and have a look at what the music press were actually writing about at the time, and then check to see what the alternative charts show us punters were actually buying.

    Think about how soft your targets are , then have a good sit -down , admit to yourself that your view is hardly revolutionary or correct or new or profound, and write about something you have invested more than ten minutes in sat in front of your keyboard.

    Rubbish , absolute rubbish.

  35. Wallace Wylie March 26, 2011 at 6:50 am

    James, I’m writing about UK guitar music in the 90s. I have to mention certain things, like the fact that Oasis were rubbish and that laddishness was everywhere. It hardly constituted the majority of the essay. If somebody chooses to write about WWII I don’t think they should be criticised for finding Hitler’s actions immoral. “Eh fella, the punters already know gas chambers were bad news”. Like I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t see many articles putting down Primal Scream. What revolutionary viewpoints do you have? Can anyone tell me a mind-blowing opinion right now that nobody has ever said before?

    If you disagree with things I’m saying, then tell me what they are. Link me to some writing that fits your criteria. I’d love to read it.

  36. Neil Kulkarni March 26, 2011 at 7:11 am

    @wallace – oh yeah man it’d disrupt the flow of yr excellent piece. nitpicking addendums are what comments sections are for . . . .

  37. Everett True March 26, 2011 at 7:15 am

    I once wrecked a cover-interview (for another journalist) by calling Green Day ‘necrophiles’ in an album review.

    Might’ve been a fraction before your time, Neil – but after my infamous ‘review’ of Smashing Pumpkins live in Chicago, not only did I lose MM the cover story (the journalist was due to fly out to America the day the review was published: the flight was cancelled immediately) but also all advertising from their record company for the next year.

    And then, of course, there was the incident where I lost Q Magazine their cover interview with Pearl Jam because Eddie picked up a copy of MM with my review of his band’s show in…

  38. james March 26, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Oasis are rubbish , everyone knew that ? Yet you went to Knebworth ? Screamadelica is (excluding the anniversary promo re-issue drivel) universally derided.

    Your point seems to be that “lad rock” sic (cliche)stopped the likes of KLF (SIGH)and Aphex twin as being “exhilarating and revolutionary” and deserving of more than a footnote in the grand scheme of things.

    Go back to the early seventies ,Kraftwerk , Neu , Faust, all a lot more revolutionary than Massive Attack or (for chrissakes) A guy called Gerald , get a grip man , in fact get a record collection.

    The problem with music writing is that it is written by music writers. The NME chap , for the record ,championed many , many obscure acts. Selective memory and forcing a theory to fit the picture in your mind is just plain wrong. You sir liked the Roses, because it was what you wanted at that age and that time , Oasis ,no different. You are erasing and re-writing your own history to suit your own taste ,now. If you are wrong in why you liked that music then , why , do you think you are right now?

  39. Wallace Wylie March 26, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Screamadelica is universally derided? What bullshit. You’re just making stuff up now. And don’t write “lad rock” in quotes and write sic afterwards as if I said it. I never used the term “lad rock” sic once.

    Oh wow, you like Kraftwerk, Faust and Neu!. Holeeeee shit. You just blew my fucking mind. I mean, nobody likes those bands. It’s not like I own EVERY SINGLE FUCKING ALBUM BY THEM.

    I’m not erasing or rewriting anything, otherwise I wouldn’t have mentioned that I was even at Knebworth. Try figuring out what words mean before you use them.

  40. Sean March 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    The insularity and narrow confines of much British music journalism is no better illustrated than the ignorance of Depeche Mode, who deserve far better treatment. I am delighted to see you give them credit here: Violator is a remarkable album and as Neil McCormick wrote in his review of their latest release, their work exposes the paucity of ambition of much guitar-based music. If Depeche Mode had arrived fully-formed with, say, Black Celebration as their debut, rather than a foetal Dave Gahan poncing around the Top of the Pops stage in a dickie-bow in 1981, I am certain they’d get the critical appreciation they deserve.

  41. Retch March 26, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Agreed! Depeche Mode are one of the most influential acts of the last 30 and deserve to be recognised as such. They’ve also got hands down more cracking tunes than any guitar band mentioned here. And they could rock like muthafukas when the mood took them.

  42. Niall March 26, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Ahh, just as we were all settling in to some good ole wistful nostalgia about the glory days of the Maker being the plucky underdog in the Britpap wars, someone has to go and drop the “R” bomb. JESUS CHRIST – ROMO?? WTF WAS THAT ALL ABOUT?!

    Actually no, I’m glad someone has mentioned it, it helps to bring a bit of perspective back and stop all the back-slapping going on here. Britpop may have been bad musically, derivative, backwards looking, safe masquerading as edgy, culturally irrelevant, hype driven and vacuous, but all that can be applied to Romo (and x1000). Yes the music and styling may have been different but you were doing the exact same thing you accuse the NME of – foisting a bullshit scene on people, and trying to pass off hype as talent.

    I bought the Melody Maker every week for about 7 years, I would eagerly gobble up the writing by the above mentioned, most of the pics I had blu-tacked to my bedroom wall were from MM (including most of my shrine to MSP) but essentially Romo killed the Melody Maker for me. I couldn’t trust or take seriously the paper after that. That and the really terrible new logo that came in around 1995.

  43. Niall March 26, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    “Go back to the early seventies ,Kraftwerk , Neu , Faust, all a lot more revolutionary than Massive Attack or (for chrissakes) A guy called Gerald , get a grip man , in fact get a record collection.”

    LOL! 😀

    Someone left a comment about Primal Scream over on the DM post basically saying “How can you say that Primal Scream are just a classic rock homage band?! That would mean that Neu!, Joy Division and Suicide are now considered claasic rock!!”

    Um yes. Yes they are. Point proven with the above comment.

  44. timbotombo March 26, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Don’t blame a handful of bands for the dross and poor imitations that came after them.
    Punk was the same, remember Plastic Bertand and Sham 69?
    The great thing about the early 90’s was the mix of dance and guitar music. They were different but sat side by side. People went raving on Saturday and listened to Screamadelica on Sunday. Just what is wrong with that?
    Those guitar bands yuu have a go at were, at the time, A BREATH OF FRESH AIR after all those 80’s bands who played drippy jingle-jangle and stood looking bored.
    You fail to mention that Primal Scream, for example were an absolutely thrilling live act … and still are.
    You miss the point slagging off dumb lyrics too. There has always been a place for dumb lyrics and loud guitars …. and so there should be.
    Its rock n roll … deal with it.

  45. Retch March 27, 2011 at 3:02 am

    Snap, Niall! I had a shrine to MSP too. Well, if I’m honest, it was mainly to James Dean Bradfield…

  46. Lips March 27, 2011 at 5:13 am

    I think a much more interesting article could be written on the overt deterioration of guitar music/rock over the past decade and just how much the scales of critical justice have tipped in favor of these britpop bands, labelled here as shit. Oasis look like the Rolling Stones if we’re talking about guitar-based, populist music post 2000. Elastica, Suede, the Stone Roses, The Smiths – they all come off positively avant-garde now. I see little point in trashing a musical legacy, however dire, that at least provided Men and Women – not boys and girls, like we get now – with some semblance of swaggering ambition and style. Or at least they didn’t get their musical inspiration merely from skinny jeans and cute haircuts.

    Indeed, I’d focus on what’s going on now and try and develop answers that go beyond histrionics. You can’t even say that what the music press peddles these days is influenced by what went down 20+ years ago when what’s going down now is so totally trite by comparison. It’s all Internet, fashion, pre-established ‘cool’ sounds and archetypes.

    And by the by, if you’re speaking objectively of a certain time and place give props where it’s deserved – Elastica never got a mention and neither did The Verve who, for all their council swagger, very much had their own unique guitar-based sensibility.

  47. james March 27, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Apologies for the misuse of the sic.

    “Ever since Orange Juice ambled onto the scene around ’79, the influence of The Byrds and Love had grown beyond all comprehension”


    Edwin would have spoken about the Velvet Underground and Chic. Byrds and Love ? Sorry, try naming another band that fits this ridiculous ” You’re just making stuff up now (SIC)throwaway inaccurate piece of fantasy presented (wrongly) as fact.

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (SIC)

    You wrote, (concerning the Roses) “It ushered in an era of classicism, of blokes making ‘proper’ music, of bands giving their fans something to ‘believe’ in. It reeked of religiosity and bloated rock‘n’roll conservatism.”

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (SIC)

    “It should be obvious to almost everyone by now that Oasis really weren’t very good, and this is coming from somebody who bought into the hype early and even attended their monster concert at Knebworth.”

    Everyone except you.

    I wrote “Oasis ,no different. You are erasing and re-writing your own history to suit your own taste ,now. If you are wrong in why you liked that music then , why , do you think you are right now?”

    “Try figuring out what words mean before you use them.” (SIC)

    One more thing “The knock-on effect of all these blokes with guitars was the resurrection of the cocky British male”

    “Britain fully embraced its cheeky chappy, get-‘em-out-for-the-lads, knuckle-dragging persona (just take a look at Blur’s ‘Country House’ video for evidence). ”

    “even The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys are simply more of the same with all of their songs dealing with laddish misbehavior, street wisdom of the “eh mate, you’re a right phony so you are”

    “blokes making ‘proper’ music”

    Nah you are right , you didn’t say lad rock , hell , you didn’t even imply it!!

    You were 13 at the time of the Roses first album? Yet you know all about the Postcard scene and C86 and 76 and all that.

    ” “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (SIC)

    Produce the evidence , please.

  48. Glyn March 27, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Niall, having a conversation across two boards is a bit confusing- I am the somebody you refer to- Since you were nearly quoting me, I can’t really say I agree with the evidence you present that suicide and neu and joy division are part of the same classic rock canon as highlighted in the article.
    Whereas the Beatles and Stones and Led Zeppelin were huge bands, with record sales in the tens of millions and were household names. It’s only in a particulars small slice of the population that neu or suicide would be particularly recognisable even today. (joy division is another matter)

    Back in the late 90’s they were far, far more obscure references, So i’d say my point (on DM) still stands. I’m open to persuasion though, with “facts” or bribes.

    Bribes are preferred- Subjective reality is Malleable.

  49. Wallace Wylie March 27, 2011 at 8:12 am

    I should never have continued this argument. I’m new to this game (not a music journalist) and I’m diving in when I should be sitting back. One last try.

    James, I’m going to type out a quote from Edwyn Collins (yes, his name is spelled with a y) so I hope you appreciate the effort I’m making. It’s from the August 2003 issue of Uncut which had a special on The Byrds:

    “When Orange Juice got started [Postcard label boss] Alan Horne had a huge vinyl collection, and that was the first time I’d heard The Byrds. The first thing I bought of theirs was “Mr. Tambourine Man”.
    The funny thing is, though that line went, “I wore my fringe like Roger McGuinn’s” [from 1982’s “Consolation Prize”], my own role model was Michael Clarke, who looked like a prettier Brian Jones. At that time, I thought he had the best haircut. I think the next influence on us was “Everybody’s Been Burned” from “Younger Than Yesterday”, which had this searing, stringent guitar solo. That’s the way we wanted solos to sound on songs like “Blue Boy”…I borrowed a Rickenbacker 12-String for “Simply Thrilled Honey”, then bought my own for the first Orange Juice album [1982’s “You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever”]. So we wnated a Telecaster for the Steve Cropper sound and a Rickenbacker for the Roger McGuinn sound.


    That thing about Scottish bands being obsessed with bands like Love and The Byrds is a cliche now, but we were probably the ones who kicked the whole thing off”.

    So no, I’m not making stuff up, unless you want to argue with Edwyn Collins.

    Now, when you put something in quotation marks it means you’re quoting someone. You put quotation marks around the term lad rock, then put a sic afterwards. I was pointing out that I did not use the term “lad rock”. It was in fact you who decided to use that cliched term. I did not claim that I didn’t say there was lots of laddishness going on in the 90s. I did, because there was. If you want to use cliched terms like “lad rock” you can, just don’t claim that I used it. So yes, I am right. I did not say lad rock.

    “You were 13 at the time of the Roses first album? Yet you know all about the Postcard scene and C86 and 76 and all that.”

    What is your point? I read books, magazines and websites. You should try it. That way you’ll know who Edwyn Collins was influenced by.

  50. Wallace Wylie March 27, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I also had a MSP shrine. It’s all coming out now. “The Holy Bible”, best British rock album of the 90s.

    Romo….yeah, I didn’t get it. I bought the “Magic” ep by Orlando and everything. Didn’t like it at all. I suppose I didn’t come down too hard on Romo as I saw it as a desperate but doomed attempt to get something else going. Everything that happened in the 90s seemed too connected to a past movement. The New Wave of the New Wave? Christ almighty. Elastica managed to be a part of that and a part of Britpop.

    By 99 I was listening almost exclusively to American music. In fact, I was wishing I lived in Portland, being obsessed with Elliott Smith, Sleater-Kinney and Quasi.

  51. david March 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    A superb article. I listened to Screamadelica recently for the first time in years after reading an interview with Gillespie in The Age (they were in Melbourne to play the whole album live). I couldn’t believe how bad Damaged and I’m Comin’ Down were. Gillespie’s claims about the brilliance of the album were hilarious.

    Disappointed by the (admittedly faint) praise for Suede though. They were an atrocity.

  52. james March 28, 2011 at 3:54 am

    “Now, when you put something in quotation marks it means you’re quoting someone. You put quotation marks around the term lad rock, then put a sic afterwards. I was pointing out that I did not use the term “lad rock”. It was in fact you who decided to use that cliched term. I did not claim that I didn’t say there was lots of laddishness going on in the 90s. I did, because there was. If you want to use cliched terms like “lad rock” you can, just don’t claim that I used it. So yes, I am right. I did not say lad rock.”

    james says:
    March 27, 2011 at 5:19 am Apologies for the misuse of the sic.

    I apologised for misquoting you.

    One more thing “The knock-on effect of all these blokes with guitars was the resurrection of the cocky British male”

    “Britain fully embraced its cheeky chappy, get-‘em-out-for-the-lads, knuckle-dragging persona (just take a look at Blur’s ‘Country House’ video for evidence). ”

    “even The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys are simply more of the same with all of their songs dealing with laddish misbehavior, street wisdom of the “eh mate, you’re a right phony so you are”

    “blokes making ‘proper’ music”

    Nah you are right , you didn’t say lad rock , hell , you didn’t even imply it!!

    The thing about receiving an apology is it is of no use if you did not realise it. Apologies.

    That thing about Scottish bands being obsessed with bands like Love and The Byrds is a CLICHE now, but we were probably the ones who kicked the whole thing off”.

    “a facet on punk’s diamond”. is a direct quote from Edwyn concerning O.juice (very selective quote from yourself )yes by having a Rickenbacker 12-String on the record.”So we wnated a Telecaster for the Steve Cropper sound”(sic) was he in the Byrds?

    “Blueboy,” “Simply Thrilled Honey,” and “Poor Old Soul” hardly riddled with Byrdesque touches are they.

    Falling And Laughing was a hopeless cacophony of shrill guitars and an inexplicably loud bass drum pedal. But as a song, it was a sublime celebration of unfulfilled ardour to a tune that aimed to bridge the chasm between The Velvet Underground and Chic. In the age of New Romantics,

    In the late 1970s as the Nu-Sonics evolved into Orange Juice, and that band spoke of mixing the sounds of the Velvet Underground and Chic,

    “The funk of the JB’s with the menace of the Velvet Underground,”

    ” The band’s string of crisp pop songs – Blue Boy, Simply Thrilled Honey – shone through iffy production on Alan Horne’s legendary Postcard label in 1979, leading to a deal with Polydor. This was Velvet Underground meets Chic, refracted through a Glaswegian experience. ”

    A direct quote :I’d discovered the Velvet Underground and the New York Dolls, and I waiting for punk to happen. Living in Glasgow there were only one or two punks around, so they stood out. I didn’t wear bin bags, spike my hair or anything like that, I was more about wearing charity shop clothes that looked right, like straight trousers. Wearing straight trousers was quite confrontational when most blokes wore flares.

    Easy to rent a quote sir.

    Look , the problem i have is that your article is little more than a case of “i have a theory and i am fucked if the facts are going to stop me” Oasis , Primal Scream and the Roses are easy targets. The likes of Aphex Twin and KLF or as others have mentioned ,Depeche Mode ,somehow being denied their rightful place is absurd.

  53. Niall March 28, 2011 at 10:24 am

    James, why should anyone bother to read your comment if you don’t even bother to re-read it yourself and tidy it up?

    But anyway…

    So because Orange Juice were influenced by The JBs and The MGs, they couldn’t possibly have been influenced by The Byrds and Love? So Steve Cropper was not in The Byrds or Love – was Nile Rodgers in the Velvet Underground?

    Using a bunch of quotes from the press (only two of them coming from the band themselves) just shows that you place more importance in the words of the music press than in the words of the musicians. Putting too much stock in what the music press says is exactly what this article is about.

    And what “facts” exactly are you talking about that contradict what Wallace has written? The fact that you disagree with him? This is music writing, not science, it is subjective. (And PLEASE don’t wheel out the old “they sold millions they must be great”, I have already addressed how that is bullshit).

  54. Niall March 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Hi Glyn, thanks for replying – let’s keep it here ‘cos it’s getting a bit name-calley on DM.

    Granted Neu! and Suicide may not be household names, but that doesn’t mean they have not entered the canon of “classic rock” – they may not be as high a rung on the ladder as The Beatles and The Stones, but there are plenty of articles on them in heritage rock magazines like Mojo, Uncut and Word. The BBC Krautrock documentary also played its part, and you have to admit that Neu! t-shirts have become incredibly popular. Suicide happen to crossover into the (perhaps non-existent) category of “classic electronica” and it must be obvious by now that Joy Division (you DID bring them up!) are the new Velvet Underground – THE revered template that any new act has to match up to in the mainstream rock press.

    Granted this all may have been after Primal Scream copped them as influences though.

  55. Everett True March 28, 2011 at 11:08 am

    The biggest influence on Primal Scream at the time of ‘Loaded’ was The Soup Dragons. And don’t let anyone tell you any different.

  56. Wallace Wylie March 28, 2011 at 11:26 am

    You know, when a person claims that Orange Juice (a band known for their jangly guitars, who name-check a member of The Byrds in one of their songs, who talk about the influence of The Byrds on their music) are not influenced by The Byrds, and then accuses you of ignoring facts to fit a theory, you start to feel like maybe you’re losing your mind a little bit. Hello Byrds, hello trees.

  57. Glyn March 28, 2011 at 8:24 pm


    “Granted this all may have been after Primal Scream copped them as influences though.”

    That’s pretty much my point.
    They were doing something outside of the accusations the article makes. With all respect to the author, I think he’s marginalised a good chunk of their output to make his point seem stronger.

    Everett True -“The biggest influence on Primal Scream at the time of ‘Loaded’ was The Soup Dragons. And don’t let anyone tell you any different.”

    heh. Why is THAT not the pull quote on the Screamadelica box set.? I really like the album and yet, i do remember thinking that at the time.

  58. Brett April 9, 2011 at 4:00 am

    Although I kinda agree with the sentiment, your article is so partial that it doesn’t really grab any traction. Massive Attack, A Guy Called Gerald, KLF et al not receiving any press? Are you sure?

    As soon as someone mentions music made by ‘white men with guitars’ I switch off (a phrase common throughout the 90’s music weeklies). That quote seems to be invariably written by a white man who has not long decided that they dont like music by white men with guitars as much these days (even if it does constitute a sizeable chunk of their music still).

    To be fair, the article reads somewhat like a musical hairshirt, where you are punishing yourself for bands, who in retrospect, seem clunky and dull these days.

    I cant wait for the day when I look back on my cynicism for nostalgia wiith a warm fondness (perhaps ably assisted by Jarvis Cocker).

  59. Wallace Wylie April 9, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I never said those bands didn’t receive any press.

    I also never said anything about white men with guitars but to be fair you may be referring to the comments.

    I still like The Stone Roses. I never liked Primal Scream. Oasis…I don’t regret anything as far as my own actions are concerned. I regret that others still insist that they were worthwhile.

  60. ManikMonkee July 22, 2011 at 1:41 am

    I have to disagree on this.The Stones roses where overrated and Brit pop was in the most part crap but there was certainly a lot of coverage of electronica at the time namely from Mixmag and straight no chaser. If you were reading rock magazines you would expect to just hear about rock music. I remember reading Hip Hop Connection at the time and it had absolutely no coverage of Oasis, but thats cus it was a magazine devoted to hip hop. See the logic?

    It just seems to me that at the time you didn’t have good music taste and your pissed off because you could have been listening to decent music.

    Criticizing an acid house record just because it was written by rock musicians is pretty lame. Its a bit like saying the stranglers couldn’t be punks cus they used to be hippies before. What about FSOL’s recent rock albums is the contrary true?

    Screamadelica is an electronica classic, in terms of production it rates up there with any of the great records that year be it the low end theory, blue lines, accelerator, The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld or De la Soul is Dead. For the British bands mentioned there all of the albums were debuts so it seems undeniable that primal scream were at the cutting edge.

  61. Chris Rice October 7, 2011 at 8:37 am

    I have to admit, I’m with Princess Stomper on this. Does it really matter if a lot of Britpop bands and records didn’t held up so well? There were plenty of decent bands and albums that do stand up (I’ve not seen much mention of Pulp or The Verve yet), as well as bands that are somewhat forgotten now, like Hopper or Flowered Up or Placebo even. I mean, I’m biased, I did a Wednesday-night indie club at the Borderline for 5 years, so the scene earned me money, but it certainly didn’t ruin British indie music. Although if I never hear the words “Got any Stone Roses, mate?” ever again, I’ll be very happy. Good article though…

  62. Shan Welham October 7, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I was 14 in 1990. I had SR on a taped tape. Being in Australia, and on the Sunshine Coast, I segued from the likes of Radio Birdman and The Birthday Party into other variants of ‘surf rock / punk’ of the era and then into what is still reflected on as quite an important time in Australian music in the mid to late nineties. The Homebake festival line ups give an indication of what I’m referring to. Brit pop was around, but really wasn’t a soundtrack to that time of my life and thus this article and the comments have been a welcome distraction this morning. What KennyG commented made me smile. I think that anyone who appreciates music would enjoy the disection started here. Started being the operative word, for it appears Wallace had and has a lot more to say.

    Put it in a book. I’ll buy it.

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  64. styg January 23, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Rather late to the party, but here’s some thoughts anyway. I was there at the time, and still own the records by Northern Uproar, Blameless and Menswear to prove it, but I don’t ascribe my liking those bands to MM, Q or NME since I don’t think I ever bought a single music mag during the entire decade of the 90s. Oh, and as well as britpop, I was into stuff like Bomb The Bass and The Orb too, even if I also liked Scooter and Coliseum. Hey, don’t judge me, I was young.

    The importance of Oasis to the existence of the britpop idea seems overstated, not just here but in general. To the commercial dominance of britpop and to the musical history books overall, sure, they were the biggest thing in the world for a while, but pre-Supersonic Blur, Suede, Pulp, Lush, James and the Manics were all pretty well entrenched into the national musical consciousness. Not to mention bands retroactively counted as britpop which were already on the commercial fade by that point like Carter USM, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, EMF, the Poppies, the whole Bellshill collective.

    Second, how much of a ‘thing’ even was britpop? Sleeper and Ash sound no more alike than Pixies and Nirvana, but the press – drunk on reclamation of guitar music from the States, or something else? Iunno – lumped them together and nowadays they’re remembered as part of this dark cloud of homogenous soundalike clones. Just think about all the bands who got the ‘britpop’ label and often sounded barely anything like each other – Mansun, Kula Shaker, Terrorvision, Chumbawamba, The Levellers, Skunk Anansie, Black Grape, Super Furry Animals, Muse, Radiohead, Placebo, Space, Garbage even though they were only one quarter British. Fuck, even Ben Folds Five somehow ended up on half the britpop compilations despite entirely lacking either British members or guitars. Can someone remind me why exactly all those bands are so rigidly locked into this one scene? It’s like locking together Skinny Puppy and New Order because they were both making electronic rock at the same time.

    Mind you, one of the biggest mysteries in musical history, I don’t know how the fuck My Bloody Valentine managed avoid to the britpop label, when even Portishead got stuck with it (Okay, so they’re not British, admittedly, but that didn’t stop people claiming Kerbdog and the Cranberries, or Bjork for that matter).

  65. C. May 15, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Styg: My Bloody Valentine were shoegazers.

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