Friday, 23 April 2010

The time’s on the way, my love......

The press release was fairly standard...

"Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years. We still love each other but, cliché notwithstanding, musical differences have led to us moving on and of course we all wish each other well in the future."

The usual clinical and soulless record company contrived statement regarding a band splitting. A statement so understated that the news flew under the radar when it was announced last week.

Supergrass are to split.

After digesting the press release it got me thinking back to a time fifteen years ago when we were young, we were free and we kept our teeth nice and clean. A summer when it seemed to be constantly gloriously hot, i had my first real love hanging from my arm and Chelsea had just signed Ruud Gullit! How could life get any better? Well my life was certainly improved when a debut album by the name of 'I Should Coco' landed on my turntable. A debut album that, in my humble opinion, stands up against almost any other debut album you care to mention.

In The City? - Check
The Stone Roses? - Check
Definitely Maybe? - Check
Whatever People Say I Am....? - Check
The Smiths? - Check

An album of such preposterous youthful excuberence that it should be passed as law that all new bands are forced to listen to it before they get as far as the recording studio. A blueprint on how to put a little joy into an album and how to not take yourself too seriously. Bands like The Enemy and Kasabian should take note because after a while watching these po-faced, plastic hardmen take to the stage with sour faces looking like they've just sucked a pre-gig lemon becomes tedious. - Maybe 'moody' sells?

"But music is a serious business!"
i can almost hear some people shout. Well no it's not really is it? It's about enjoyment and escapism and listening to a band or artist who sound like they've actually enjoyed producing a record. For me Supergrass were that band and 'I Should Coco' was that album.

The three opening tracks of 'I'd Like To Know', 'Caught By The Fuzz' and 'Mansize Rooster' are a triumvirate of pop songs that any band worth their salt would kill for. The first time i played the album i sat there with a stupid grin on my face, blown away by what I'd just heard. I just knew i was onto a winner with this one!

Then you've got 'Alright'. A song that took on a life of it's own over the years and almost became an albatross around the neck of Supergrass as they were trying to grow up and move on as a band. But just take a minute to listen to it. It's pure 'Lazy Sunday' by The Small Faces crossed with 'My Brother Jake' by Free. To these ears it still sounds just as good fifteen years later.

Moving on it beautifully criss-crosses punk, psychedelia and pure pop with songs like 'Lenny', 'She's So Loose' and 'We're Not Supposed To'. Then three tracks from the end comes what i think is it's defining moment and a glimpse as to where Supergrass were heading for in years to come. An almost prog-like, bluesy psychedelia tinged anthem called 'Time'. For me it is the albums 'curve ball' as it appears almost out of nowhere in a puff of smoke. The Creation described their music as 'Red With Purple Flashes' well this particular track was turquoise leopard print with streaks of lime green with yellow spots and a weird fuzzy blur round the edges. There aren't many songs that blow me away to such an extent that i simply have to listen to it at least once a day but 'Time' is definitely one of them. In fact even to this day I'm so attached to it that when i watched Supergrass play it live through an alcohol induced haze on my stag do at Ascot Racecourse (i know, i know) last summer i swear i had a little speck of dust in my eye as the opening chords chimed out. It's one of maybe only a dozen or so songs that can transport me back in time instantly and stir up all those emotions from the summer of '95.

By the time 'I Should Coco' draws to a close with another big kaleidoscopic number 'Sofa Of My Lethargy' which could almost be the moody older brother of 'Time', which rumbles nicely into the melancholy comedown album closer of 'Time To Go' you know you've heard a truly brilliant album. The 'cognoscenti' may not agree but for me it's almost impossible to listen to it without a stupid toothy smile spreading across your face.

So as sad as it is that one of this country's truly great bands have gone their separate ways we can console ourselves with the fact that they left behind a truly magnificent slice of music and for that we should all be grateful. So tonight when i get home from the drudgery of my day job, I'm going to stick 'I Should Coco' on the stereo and raise a can to Supergrass and bellow along to this...

Gaz, Danny, Mick & Rob.....we salute you.


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