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Sunday, 17 July 2011
NME: PRICELESS CREATION (1999)
1. Acquiesce - Oasis
The band that saved Creation, Oasis were one of those rare bands that became so huge that their B sides often gained as much attention as their A Sides. This was perhaps their most famous example and the Acquiesce's status is now arguably greater than it's A Side, Some Might Say, which became the band's first #1 n 1995. Acquiesce was released as a promo single in anticipation of Oasis' B-Side compilation, The Masterplan, in 1998, and, confirming its classic status, was put out again as the lead single of the Stop The Clocks EP in 2006, a precursor to the collection of the same name. It seems Acquiesce was never destined to be a hit in its own right though; the length of the EP meant it was ineligible for the UK singles chart denying it a place in the Top 5.
2. Star - Primal Scream
Or not, as we'll see in a moment...
Primal Scream released two singles in a month in May 1997 to promote their masterpiece Vanishing Point. Perversely the first release, the massively uncompromising electro-dub racket Kowalski fared better in the charts, hitting #8, than the more commercial, by the Scream's standards, Star, which stalled at #16 despite extra airplay and performances on TV. Hailed as a return to form after the Stones-aping Give Out But Don't Give Up, Vanishing Point charted, like its predecessor at #2. To this day, Primal Scream are defined by the pioneering Screamadelica, yet it's this album that remains their best and most satisfying release to date.
Some months after Vanishing Point's release came Echo Dek, a dub overhaul of the entire album remixed by Adrian Sherwood. One of the tracks, Revolutionary, was a reworking of Star and it's this version that appears on this Free EP despite the credits suggesting it should be the original version.
3. Soft As Snow (But Warm Inside) - My Bloody Valentine
Although the early 90s shoegazing movement took inspiration from early to mid 80s bands such as Cocteau Twins, Jesus & Mary Chain and This Mortal Coil, it's My Bloody Valentine, led by Kevin Shields, and their first album Isn't Anything, who are credited with kickstarting the movement. The album, kicking off with this track, with its droning, psychedelic trance-like take on indie rock, spent 17 weeks on top of the indie chart and spawned a myriad of copycat bands. Ironically, it was the band's second album, Loveless, that helped kill shoegaze. It was so good that it made the work of every other shoegaze band seem very old hat very quickly and the music press soon moved on to pastures new. Always destined to be a critical rather than a commercial success, the crazy amount of money spent on producing Loveless typifies the madness surrounding Creation at the time and, never mind shoegazing, the album nearly killed off the label.
4. Mellow Doubt - Teenage Fanclub
Despite nearly going to the wall, 1991 was a good year for Creation Records Product. As well as Screamadelica and Loveless, there was Bandwagonesque, Teenage Fanclub's third album, a massive crirtical and modest commercial success. After the relative of failure of the follow up Thirteen came Grand Prix in 1995 which became the band's biggest success to date hitting the Top 10. Although little to do with "Britpop", their chiming Big Star and Byrds-esque guitars and melodies sat well in the climate and the album spawned two Top 40 hits, Sparky's Dream and this, which hit #34. Despite achieving their greatest successes in this era, and referenced by many as influences, Teenage Fanclub were one of the era's great underachievers and despite further minor hits, never properly broke through unlike those they had influenced - see Travis.
In a late twist, in 2004 an episode of The Bill aired on ITV and featured four characters - Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley, Paul Quinn and Gerard Love. Teenage Fanclub may not have sold a million in the UK, but several million probably watched this. Sadly, only about 7 people realised the scriptwriter's little in-joke...
5. Free Huey - The Boo Radleys
Never has a band, with the possible exception of Cornershop, been so misunderstood by the mainstream media and general public than the Boo Radleys, forever associated with one piece of music. You know the one. Sadly, that track, despite hitting the Top 10, earning songwriter Martin Carr enough money to retire on and spawning a #1 album was a pyrrhic victory. By the time the band released the noisy, experimental and frankly brilliant follow up, C'Mon Kids a year later, the older fans who had been captivated by 1993's magnum opus Giant Steps and earlier feedback drenched noise rock classics had ungraciously moved on after their commercial success and the new fans just didn't get it expecting Wake Up Boo Mk2. The result was the biggest shame in 90s music as, despite three Top 40 hits, the album stalled at #20 and disappeared after only a couple of weeks in the chart. Knocked for six, the band recorded their sixth album Kingsize featuring less experimentation and more structure and melody. Told by Creation to record two commercial singles before the album could be released, Carr came up with the stellar title track and this, Free Huey, which was released as the album's lead single. A risky single incorporating big beats and a shouty chorus, which accounted for two thirds of the song, it bombed and charted at a lowly #54. After the album disastrously peaked at #62 a couple of weeks later, the band called it a day leaving the second single, the title track unreleased. A soaring, anthemic track, if this had been the lead single, it could have saved them. A lost classic indeed. A rare 5 track promo of what would have been the tracks spread across 2 CD singles does exist and this counts as the final Boo Radleys release in the band's lifetime.
6. This Is My Hollywood - 3 Colours Red
3CR were much derided, mostly thanks to Alan McGee's over the top hyperbole when he announced that they were the most exciting band since the Sex Pistols. What he failed to mention was that 3CR were a pretty perfunctory punk rock band. Still, McGee's hype helped them achieve 4 Top 40 hits from their debut album Pure. This Is My Hollywood was the band's first release on the Fierce Panda label in 1996 and was re-released as the fifth single from the debut album in 1997 where it stalled at #48.
7. Love Is Blue - Edward Ball
Former Television Personalities frontman Ed Ball must have been a good friend of Alan McGee who let him release a bunch of albums as Love Corporation on the imprint throughout the 90s. When it was finally decided that Ball should trade on his own name, all the stops were pulled to make sure he finally achieved the success McGee felt he deserved. Despite much promotion including saturation on the ITV Chart Show with videos featuring the likes of Anna Friel and Noel Gallagher, the campaign failed. Four singles were released from the album Catholic Guilt, only two of which reached the Top 100 including Love Is Blue which hit #59. The album failed to scrape the Top 200 and Ed stopped trying to be famous.
8. JC Auto - Sugar
Following the break up of the hugely influential Husker Du, frontman Bob Mould formed Sugar and had immediate success with their classic debut Copper Blue which hit the UK Top 10. Not all the tracks recorded for the Copper Blue sessions were included on the album, the heavier material held back for an EP release the following year. The EP, Beaster, did even better reaching #3 in 1993. The album being loosely based on religious imagery, JC Auto is short for Jesus Christ Autobiography. Sugar recorded one more album, File Under Easy Listening before Mould went solo.
9. Cracking Up - The Jesus & Mary Chain
JAMC were among the first signings to Creation and in 1984 released their infamous debut single Upside Down. The sound of this, and their debut album Psychocandy, set a new template for a new generation of indie bands where feedback and noise were of equal importance to the tune - this manifested itself in the shoegaze movement kickstarted by My Bloody Valentine. Despite not charting, Upside Down sold consistently and was a major success story for Creation. On the back of this, the band were signed to blanco y negro where the band stayed for the next decade. Always on the brink of implosion, the band had one more album left in them before they would self destruct and who better to pick it up than Creation where it all started. The writing was on the wall though. Cracking Up was the comeback and the album's lead single and hit #35. The poppier I Love Rock N Roll similarly only scraped the Top 40 and the album Munki only scraped the chart at #47. A decade later, they'd be back....
10. Gathering Moss - Super Furry Animals
The last great band to sign to Creation, SFA released their debut album Fuzzy Logic in 1996 featuring this track. Never a band to be categorised, SFA started life as a techno band - roots which have never gone away - before picking up their guitars and releasing two effervescent EPs on the Ankst label before releasing their debut single Hometown Unicorn on Creation. Although this just missed the Top 40, they'd have no trouble with their next 19 proper single releases which all charted in the 40. Trouble is, they also set themselves an unwanted record; SFA became the band to have the most Top 40 singles - twenty - without ever reaching the Top 10. The closest they got was their 1999 single Northern Lites which reached #11 and they've also hit #s 12, 13, 14, 16 and 18.