Thursday, March 26, 2009

Life Without Britpop

Blur - Never Clever

Imagine a world without Britpop... No 'Parklife'. No Jarvis waggling his arse at Jacko. No Noely G at No. 10. No Blur v Oasis. No Chris Evans. No Menswear. No ladettes. No Loaded. Hang on, that doesn't sound so bad...

But look, it could actually have happened. If Blur's 'Popscene' had been the Top 10 hit it deserved to be when it was released in 1992, the musical landscape would have been radically altered. In the grand plan of the band and their label, Food, after 'Popscene' had re-established Blur at the top of the indie tree, they would release 'Never Clever' - a bratty slice of pop punk where Graham's frenetic, phased thrash guitar loops back a rather lacklustre vocal performance from Damon. It's an exhilarating ride, but ultimately leaves you feeling let down and a bit empty. What's it actually saying? Not very much. Would it have been a hit? We'll never know. But if things had gone according to plan Blur would have had two Top 10 singles in the bag and the outlook for both band and label would have been a hell of a lot rosier...

ANDY ROSS (FOOD): They had this track 'Popscene' which we thought was great - this fucking song is a huge hit. Then it went in at 32 and we thought, Ah, this isn't going right at all. They had a song called 'Never Clever' that we thought was equally brilliant and the cunning plan was to have a big hit with 'Popscene', capitalise with 'Never Clever' and then we'd all be rich.

So 'Popscene' flopped, 'Never Clever' was shelved and the band hit the booze in spectatular style, almost self-destructing in the process. They regrouped, licked their wounds and came back with 'Modern Life is Rubbish' (arguably their finest) which, as we all know, invented Britpop and changed the face of music in 1990s Great Britain. For ever.

A live version of 'Never Clever' recorded at Glastonbury 1992 appeared on the b-side of 'Chemical World'. The studio version available to download here surfaced on a promo CD to commemorate Food's 100th release.

Anyone going to Hyde Park? I'll be there!

Buy Blur records from Amazon
Official Blur website
Buy John Harris's excellent account of the Britpop era 'The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the Demise of English Rock' from Amazon
Official Blur fanclub
Veikko's excellent Blur fansite