For eight years the Britons owned my rock and roll soul. Between the years of 1988-1995 I graduated from anarchistic punk rocker to blissed out Madchester/ Brit-Pop disciple. The music I enjoyed most from that era owed a massive debt to the psychedelic sounds of the 60’s and the burgeoning rave movement in England. It was a glorious mutation that changed the way I listened to music forever and from there I would go backwards, devouring the influences of these sonic genre bandits like salted pistachios. Unfortunately when one is obsessed with a particular style of music (well me, anyway) there’s the eventual casualty of buying a few horrible duds along the way that seemed groundbreaking at the time; The Soup Dragons, The Farm, EMF, Jesus Jones and many more.
But there were some absolutely fantastic songs and albums during that time that have stood the test of time and are still in regular rotation on my iPod. Here are my picks for the best songs for that 7 year period when ecstasy, rave culture and bangers and mash ruled my psyche and my stereo.
'88-Left To My Own Devices, by The Pet Shop Boys: I’ve got no less than 11 different mixes of this song currently on my iPod, and it’s one of the rare tracks I never, ever skip. It being produced by the great Trevor Horn is a plus, but it’s just a great orchestral slow builder that builds to a masterful climax of shimmering synths and orchestration. If you listen closely you can hear the blueprint for my pick of 1995...
'89-Fools Gold, by The Stone Roses: This song changed EVERYTHING! It was Frankenstein’s monster, Sympathy For The Devil of the rave generation. It had attitude and it had groove. A veritable architectural rendering for the next 5 years. Monumental.
'90-Hallelujah, Happy Mondays (Paul Oakenfold): The beginning of the DJ as an integral part of a groups sound. It changed the Mondays from thuggish 2nd raters to leaders of a new movement.
'91-Loaded, Primal Scream: Like the Mondays before them, Primal Scream were nothing more than wannabe’s, aping the MC5 on previous releases, before this. There were better songs on Screamadelica, but none with the impact of Loaded.
92-Connected, Stereo MC’s: Sure it’s funny to hear someone with a British accent rap, but for a brief moment it sounded very cool. They never equaled this, their moment in the sun.
'93-Lazarus, Boo Radleys: In my opinion, Giant Steps (the album on which this song originates) is the perfect album, definitely one of my desert island discs. Utilizing horns, searing guitars and dub as a base, this song sums up everything good and unique about British music around that time. Groundbreaking stuff, this.
'94-Supersonic, Oasis: Mixing The Sex Pistols and The Beatles with the attitude and free associative lyrical style of The Happy Mondays, Oasis exploded onto the scene in 1984 and this was the number that broke them. For me, anyway, as I never really cottoned to the big smash from Definitely Maybe “Live Forever”. They would die a horrible death with their third album, the bloated Be Here Now and would never regain their former glory. Blur turned out to be better, but at least they gave us one perfect slab…
'95-Common People, Pulp: Their grandly theatrical, synth-spiked pop with new wave and disco flourishes is mastered here on Common People. Exciting and socially acerbic, Common People tells the tale of a rich girl who wants to “go slumming” with the “common people”, and Jarvis Cocker and Co. are simply masterful on this, the best track from 1995.
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