Supergrass

Akin to the early-’90s post-Nirvana feeding frenzy in the Pacific Northwest, the Britpop explosion of the mid-’90s spawned a similar slash-and-burn signing boom on the other side of the pond. And as with post-Nirvana culture, the milieu surrounding Blur and Oasis gave way to a litany of fates for bands just hungry for their slice of attention in what rapidly became an over-saturated and bloated scene. There were keepers — the Divine Comedy were seemingly impervious to a slightly raised profile, and have a nearly peerless discography, while Ash astoundingly continue to dazzle, playing from the same deck of cards as Brad Pitt in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, capturing the spirit of youth with even more alacrity as they ostensibly age in reverse. There’s also the feckless dreck — Ocean Colour Scene, 60 Ft. Dolls, and Dodgy were tailor-made to cynically exploit the successes of their contemporaries, and they failed miserably, releasing largely insipid albums. And then there were the bands that perhaps didn’t have what it take to swing for the fences, but nonetheless made the most of their fleeting moments in the spotlight. The prime example of this template is Drugstore, who released one of the more underrated albums of the ’90s with their Radiohead-championed self-titled debut. Rock and roll notoriously gets interesting at its fringes. We’ve chosen 20 of Britpop’s notable wannabes and also-rans to feature in this B-List, which is compiled alphabetically below. Not all these bands deserve to be celebrated, but they do deserve to be remembered. Dig in and you’ll certainly find a few keepers, those who rightfully deserve a place alongside Pulp, Suede, Verve, Blur, and Oasis for having released some of the most compelling music of the ’90s.

60 Ft. Dolls

Hometown: Newport, England
Their Big Hit: “Stay”
What They Sounded Like: Sneering and angry, with buzzsaw guitars evocative of the Jam and MC5, hooked to the gills with melodies to the point where it often seemed as though they were trying too hard.
What Happened: Bassist Mike Cole wrote a terrible song titled “Hair” for his then-girlfriend Donna Matthews of Elastica, and it was pretty much all downhill from there. But digging through their trove of singles, one wonders if they’d be a good band to place in a time capsule, under the heading of “prototypical, insipid indie pop” for generations down the line to discover. It wasn’t all bad – only most of it.


Ash

Hometown: Downpatrick, Ireland
Their Big Hit: “Girl From Mars”
What They Sounded Like: An Irish Green Day? Teenage Fanclub if that band were made up of actual teenagers and had fanclubs who were not solely made up of music critics.
What Happened: Ash released their first single, “Jack Names The Planets,” in 1994, when frontman Tim Wheeler was all of 17 years old — a huge talking point for the British media. The band’s first proper LP, 1977, was so named to reflect the year of its authors’ birth. It was packed with hits, including “Girl From Mars,” “Kung Fu,” and “Angel Interceptor.” Ash were so hot that they were handpicked by director Danny Boyle to write a song for A Life Less Ordinary, the 1997 follow-up to his smash film Trainspotting. But for some reason, Wheeler’s precocious songwriting chops didn’t ripen with age, and while Ash went on to record four albums after 1977, they never even came close to topping the band’s debut. Ash’s last album, Twilight Of The Innocents, came out in 2007, when Wheeler was 30. As Jarvis Cocker once sang, “Funny how it all falls away.” Indeed.


Bis

Hometown: Glasgow, Scotland
Their Big Hit: “Sweet Shop Avengerz”
What They Sounded Like: With the ebullience of the B-52s and the fuck-all attitude of contemporaries Yummy Fur, Bis were perhaps the unlikeliest entrants into the Britpop sweepstakes. They were probably the most parochial of the Britpop acts, as endemic to Glasgow as a late-night pub binge at the Nice ’N’ Sleazy. Manda Rin delivered her high-octane performances as if she were on nitrous oxide, and the results were captivating. Sadly, this energy was never captured fully on record, although The New Transistor Heroes and Return To Central are each essential documents of Glasgow’s idiosyncratic take on Britpop.
What Happened: Bis never amounted to much commercially, and unceremoniously disbanded in 2003. They’ve announced a new album for later this year, so perhaps they’ll capture the kinetic verve so pervasive during their live shows, yet so impoverished throughout their rather flat albums.


The Bluetones

Hometown: London, England
Their Big Hit: “Slight Return”
What They Sounded Like: Sing-songy ’60s pop, deeply indebted to the Stone Roses. They didn’t imitate present trends, and were all the better for it, producing some of the finest Britpop of their era, something of a U.K. equivalent to Sloan — albeit 100 times more popular. Mark Morriss’ dulcimer vocals and Adam Devlin’s chiming guitars may have led you to check your dial to see if you were listening to some long-lost Byrds number.
What Happened: They were world-beaters in their home country, but never cracked the U.S. Nonetheless, they released six largely excellent albums throughout the ’90s and ’00s, before calling it a day following 2010′s A New Athens. The returns were diminishing, and the band knew it was time to exit the party. They did so at precisely the right time.


The Boo Radleys

Hometown: Liverpool, England
Their Big Hit: “Wake Up Boo!”
What They Sounded Like: The Boo Radleys toyed with My Bloody Valentine-esque atmospherics, but were truest to themselves when making teenage symphonies that would make God blush.
What Happened: They crafted some fine albums on Creation Records before hitting it big in the U.K. with “Wake Up Boo!” from 1995′s Wake Up! They went out with something of a whimper with 1998′s insipid Kingsize, although Interpol’s Paul Banks frequently champions them as an influence, leading to speculation that they may one day reunite to support NYC’s gloom mongers.


Catatonia

Hometown: Cardiff, Wales
Their Big Hit: “Mulder And Scully”
What They Sounded Like: Straightforward, don’t-bore-us-get-to-the-chorus pop candy. Catatonia were light years removed from their Welsh brethren Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Super Furry Animals — Catatonia was tailor-made for radio, like a hyper-polished Butch Vig production or mid-period Weezer fronted by a more populist Bjork in Cerys Matthews.
What Happened: As their sonic fidelity increased, so did their popularity — the band were superstars in the U.K. “Mulder And Scully” and “Road Rage” were nutmeg-sweet blasts of pop candy, and found the band at their apex on 1998′s International Velvet. The returns diminished thereafter, and Catatonia broke up after 2001′s underwhelming Paper Scissors Stone. But like Jack Nicholson’s character in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest trying to rip the sink out of the wall, they gave a try at superstardom, swinging for the fences with every over-the-top, ambitious endeavor.


The Divine Comedy

Hometown: Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
Their Big Hit: “Something For The Weekend”
What They Sounded Like: A dollop of Scott Walker, a dash of mid-period R.E.M., the chamber sensibilities of the Tindersticks, the pathos of Nick Drake, and the gallows humor of Momus made for a damn impressive band.
What Happened: They were, in comparison to most of the bands on this list, more or less a cult act. Composed of Neil Hannon and a cadre of collaborators, the band honed their erudite, chamber-pop ditties over the course of ten albums, the last being 2010′s Bang Goes The Knighthood. They charted reasonably well in the U.K., but that’s hardly the raison d’être for Hannon. Like few artists of the past twenty years, he’s managed to push himself artistically while maintaining a loyal, reasonably sizable audience — no easy feat.


Dodgy

Hometown: London, England
Their Big Hit: “Good Enough”
What They Sounded Like: The Monkees of the Britpop scene. Dodgy never deigned to attempt originality, and actually knew their way around a hook fairly well. Nigel Clarke’s lyrics were cringeworthy, like something Greg Brady might’ve written as his alter-ego Johnny Bravo. This was lifestyle music, worthy of pushing a cart around a grocery store.
What Happened: The band were festival favorites, their albums tore up the British charts, and they could, inexplicably, do no wrong in the public eye. That changed after the release of 2001′s Real Estate, which found the general public perhaps unable to ingest the Kool-Aid the band had been ramming down their throats for the better part of a decade. They broke up, and as every band is seemingly wont to do in the ’10s, reunited in 2012 with the release of Stand Upright In A Cool Place, a fair effort that reclaimed some of their old fans, and reminded us that there might’ve been something redeeming about this act.


Drugstore

Hometown: London, England
Their Big Hit: “El President” (Featuring Thom Yorke)
What They Sounded Like: The Mazzy Star comparisons were downright trite. The band owed to the likes of American bands as disparate as Sebadoh, the Velvet Underground, and Neil Young, and had the songwriting chops to live up to those formidable influences. They could overdo it with the effects pedals, but frontwoman Isobel Montiero’s eviscerating, bone-marrow-rattling vibrato could bring any Swans fans to his knees.
What Happened: Their best record, the eponymous Drugstore, garnered acclaim, but its follow-up, the largely underwhelming White Magic For Lovers, was a commercial flop in the U.S. — despite Thom Yorke’s high-profile appearance. They’ve sporadically released records since, and good ones at that, including a recent import-only greatest hits collection, but nothing’s suggested the terrifyingly gorgeous excoriation/exorcism of Montiero’s demons on their debut.


Echobelly

Hometown: London, England
Their Big Hit: “Great Things”
What They Sounded Like: Early on, they sounded a lot like a tremolo-laden Smiths. In fact, guitarist Glen Johansson’s tremolo palette was so impressive that it purportedly inspired Peter Buck to rethink his guitar-playing style during R.E.M.’s Monster.
What Happened: Stipe and co. were huge fans of Sonya Maden and her crew, having them open numerous dates on R.E.M.’s Monster tour, and even footing the bill for some of the band’s travels. Echobelly released a terrific debut in 1994′s Everybody’s Got One, and a near-equal follow-up in 1995′s On. 1997′s Lustra found the band losing their mojo, but at their peak, they could still sound like prime-era Debbie Harry fronting the Smiths. They released an album in 2004, Gravity Pulls, to little acclaim, and went from there to sundry side projects. They never amounted to much commercially, but as far as unheralded Britpop bands go, Echobelly’s one that never really got their due.


Embrace

Hometown: West Yorkshire, England
Their Big Hit: “All You Good Good People”
What They Sounded Like: Anthemic, arena-ready rock, a Frankenstein mixture of the Verve, Oasis, U2, and Coldplay. They could write a damn good hook, and their frontman, Danny McNamara, exuded pure charisma.
What Happened: Embrace were initially a product of enormous NME hype; their 1997 debut album, The Good Will Out, debuted at No. 1 on the charts, and won them a nomination for a “Best New Band” Brit Award. Soon afterward, they were slaughtered by the UK media for doing the same things for which they were initially praised. They’re still around, and they haven’t reinvented the wheel; at this point they make Coldplay seem downright challenging. Their first album in eight years, the self-titled Embrace, is set to be released this month.


Gene

Hometown: London, England
Their Big Hit: “For The Dead”
What They Sounded Like: Not mentioning the Smiths while discussing Gene is tantamount to neglecting to mention Joy Division in an Interpol review. Gene were very much beholden to the Manchester greats, but despite Martin Rossiter’s Moz-esque affections, they had seemingly endless permutations on the Brit indie great’s sound, primarily due to Steve Mason’s delectable grab bag of guitar motifs — he was just as comfortable aping the Jam as he was emulating the sublime grandeur of New Order.
What Happened: They were hailed as the second coming of the Smiths, which was a lofty burden for even the most cocksure of Britpop’s alumni. Yet Gene delivered a bonafide classic with their 1995 debut album, Olympian, and followed it up with some fine records that did little to expand their sonic palette. One of their hit singles was titled “We Could Be Kings,” and with Moz-mania raging unabated at the present, perhaps they could. Sadly for Gene, the ’90s belonged to Blur and Oasis, all Kinks-bluster and Beatles-ballast, which was just too damn prosaic for the epicurean tastes of Rossiter and Mason. They broke up in 2004.


Northern Uproar

Hometown: Manchester, England
Their Big Hit: “Livin’ It Up”
What They Sounded Like: The imagination of youth, as filtered through the jaundiced eye of Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield, who produced their debut album. Ash and the Cribs were contemporaries, sonically, and Leon Meya evinced a strut and swagger sorely lacking in modern rock singers. He was having a gas onstage and on record, and you knew it.
What Happened: They never really attained the commercial accolades for which they seemed destined, although everything they released, save 1997′s swansong “Goodbye,” charted in the U.K. top 100. They reunited in 2013 via a fan-funded album, All That Was Has Gone, words which proved sadly prophetic, as the magic had seemingly departed from the band.


Ocean Color Scene

Hometown: Birmingham
Their Big Hit: “The Day We Caught The Train”
What They Sounded Like: Like something Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller would dig. The former invited them on tour, while the latter helped to produce their early demos. They hopscotched styles early on before setting on the aforementioned boogie-down, classic-rock-indebted, riff-heavy AOR schlock.
What Happened: They, predictably, became massive in the U.K., with a run of top 10 albums and singles in the ’90s and early ’00s, and barely registered a blip outside. Recent efforts, Saturday and Painting, sound like sordid simulacrums — don’t waste your time.


Salad

Hometown: London, England
Their Big Hit: “Motorbike To Heaven”
What They Sounded Like: An amalgamation of every bad Britpop band.
What Happened: Cynically assembled as something of a “supergroup,” including European MTV personality and model Marijne Van der Vlugt, this was Britpop’s woeful nadir. The band found little commercial or critical success, thankfully. Music this crass is downright execrable.


Shed 7

Hometown: York, England
Their Big Hit: “Speakeasy”
What They Sounded Like: The flavor of the month. Rick Witter and Paul Banks exhibited all the charm of watching a plant grow. They wrote a few minor-key ballads akin to Gene or the Sundays that were likable enough, but they were largely forgettable, a band you’d listen to once and chuck the CD to the back of your car to be rediscovered years and years later, wondering why your impulse purchase on the basis of “Speakeasy” had come to fruition at all.
What Happened: They called it quits in 2003 after relentlessly touring Truth Be Told. Truth be told, they should’ve quit nine years prior. There was the perfunctory cash-grab reunion in 2007 which found them flogging around their greatest hits, which took place to little fanfare and even less critical adulation.


Sleeper

Hometown: Manchester, England
Their Big Hit: “Inbetweener”
What They Sounded Like: The quintessential Britpop act, Sleeper had it all: an attractive, charismatic frontwoman in Louise Wener, and infectious melodies that would stay in your head like the rattle in a spray-paint can for weeks. Their Pixies-esque guitar motifs fit like a glove over Wener’s roistering vocals.
What Happened: They did exceedingly well in the U.K., but were unable to break through America’s Korn- and Limp Bizkit-dominated radio charts. But they crafted a series of fine albums, none of which outstripped their divine debut, Smart. The slope downward was fairly level, however, and they never made an album that flat-out stunk. Perhaps that was their problem — they were taken for granted. Had they made a terrible record, a la Be Here Now, perhaps their fans would’ve returned in droves. But they cared too damn much and were just, well, too smart to allow that to happen. The band broke up in 1998, with Wener going on to become an accomplished novelist, indeed a fine calling for such a strong lyricist.


S*M*A*S*H

Hometown: Hertfordshire, England
Their Big Hit: “(I Want To) Kill Somebody”
What They Sounded Like: They were downright caustic in comparison to their Britpop brethren, sounding queasily anarchic at times, summoning the spirit of the likes of Wire and the Buzzcocks.
What Happened: Some bands burn out, some fade away. S*M*A*S*H clearly burned out, as their scorching anthems would portend. But there was a certain alchemy when Ed Borrie (vocals, guitar), Salvador Alessi (bass), and Rob Haigh (drums) hit the stage or studio, and their long-out-of-print three albums are in desperate need of a resurrection.


Space

Hometown: Liverpool, England
Their Big Hit: “Female Of The Species”
What They Sounded Like: ’70s glam cross-pollinated with early-’90s Madchester — think the gender-fuck games of David Bowie, played on a Ouija board pointing directly at the Stone Roses’ debut album.
What Happened: Circuitous lineup changes and tragic deaths (ex-drummer Andy Parle passed away in 2009) haven’t stopped this band from chugging along with locomotive intensity. They recently announced a 20th anniversary tour after a 10-year hiatus, releasing the milquetoast Attack Of The Mutant 50 Ft. Kebab. Despite this record’s uneven nature, one can imagine the lighters aloft during the sublime likes of “Me And You Versus the World” and “The Ballad Of Tom Jones,” from the band’s twin masterpieces, Spiders and Tin Planet.


Supergrass

Hometown: Oxford, England
Their Big Hit: “Alright/Time”
What They Sounded Like: The Buzzcocks on Adderall. Seriously. But they could also temper their breakneck anthems for elegiac ballads such as the sun-bleached reverie “Late In The Day.”
What Happened: They were massive in their home country from the outset, 1995′s release of the classic I Should Coco. And truth be told, they never made a bad album, splitting without damaging their legacy in the slightest, two years after the release of Diamond Hoo Ha. If there were any justice in the world, “Pumping On Your Stereo” would’ve been blasting from every damn dorm room in America. Yet, their appeal was selective in the U.S., as was the case with many of these acts. A potential breakthrough series of gigs opening for Radiohead at Madison Square Garden in 2003 was cancelled due to a family emergency, sabotaging what could’ve turned a generation of American alt-rock fans onto their music. But for those who have “Seen The Light,” it’s blinding and brilliant.

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Comments (88)
  1. I would argue that Ash’s Free All Angels released in 2000 was actually as big as 1977. It was well received critically even over here (Pitchfork gave it a 7.3 and I recall it landing on a few of the bigger publications at the time’s year-end lists.) “Burn Baby Burn” was an alternative radio hit / got rotation on MTV that I remember hearing even all the way out here in the ‘burbs. They also toured with Saves the Day at their peak, which I saw, and the crowd was fired up for them.

    Does Travis not qualify on this list?

    • I was going to say the same thing. Free All Angels was a real second act for them both in the UK and here. Shining Light even won an Ivor Novello awward.

      I personally don’t count Travis as Britpop.

      • Agree about Ash,

        In regards to Travis, Jonathan is right, Travis is already the 00′s generation, i put them beside Elbow and Coldplay, well early Coldplay.

        This article is fun, really liked, i used to listen to a lot of these bands, got me nostalgic, but not so much.

    • I know Free All Angels was when I first heard of Ash.

      • Count me in as hearing of Ash due to Free All Angels.

        Not Ash related but still on-topic: Does anyone remember or has even heard of the band Manbreak? I freakin’ loved their album Come And See back in 1997. I think they may have released one more album and then after that, it was RIP for them as a band. I’ll still revisit Come And See from time to time… and it still remains one of my favorites of the 90s Brit-Pop universe.

  2. carson  |   Posted on Apr 23rd +15

    Honestly, if Supergrass are B-list, then they’re the very top of the B-list. I Should Coco holds up quite nicely next to Parklife and Definitely Maybe.

    • I love Supergrass, but I think it’s fair for John to include them here. We’re basically looking at everyone who’s not Blur/Pulp/Oasis/Verve…

      Missing from this list: Menswear, Gay Dad, who else…?

    • That band has a seriously solid discography, more consistently good than the vast majority of what I listen to. Them and Oasis are my favorites of the Britpop era, although I’d probably go Supergrass over Oasis. Life on Other Planets is perfect.

      • Agreed, Life on Other Planets is the best Britpop record and Supergrass were the best Britpop band.

      • You are my people. I thought I was the only one. Life on Other Planets defined Brit Pop. It was released, essentially, at the end of that era and squeezed the last drops of relevance out of that scene. By far my favorite album from that period.

        • In It for the Money is not just one of the best Britpop albums but one of the best albums of the ’90s, period. Totally uplifting– a perfect Friday night record with not a single sliver of filler.

  3. Auto  |   Posted on Apr 23rd +1

    I’ll vouch for the first two Bluetones albums, which are actually pretty great. Everything after? Mediocre unforutnately.

  4. Ash haven’t released a studio album since 2007, but they did do 26 singles thereafter in their A-Z series. I would say Free All Angels is a fantastic album and is almost as good as 1977. And Charlotte Hatherley’s solo albums all deserve a lot more attention.

    • Yeah, the above Ash write-up seems to be missing that whole bit where they turned their back on conventional albums to release songs/singles only … one of the first ‘name’ bands to do so (as far as I know)

  5. If there’s anything I’ve learned from this it’s that Ocean Colour Scene have a song that isn’t The Riverboat Song.

  6. Auto  |   Posted on Apr 23rd +2

    Oh and the first Ocean Colour Scene record is fantastic too.

  7. Where does Elastica fit into all this Britpop coverage?

  8. Does that mean that Mansun and Longpigs are on the C-List? Because they were far better than any of the bands listed above.

  9. Supergrass are only on the B-list because they’re 2 syllables too long to qualify for the A-list

  10. My favourite example of acclaimed-Britpop clashing with unheralded-Britpop – Graham Coxon’s saxophone bit on Sleeper’s ‘Vegas’:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A4Mf5sWtLE

  11. Extremely unfair dismissal of Salad – they don’t sound much like Supergrass or Ash but they left behind two great moody atmospheric records.

    • Agreed (though the second one isn’t up to much, bar the odd great song here and there – particularly ‘Cardboy King’). They also weren’t “assembled” in any way as stated here, nor were they regarded as any kind of “supergroup” – Marijne was the only member of the band known in any other capacity.

    • This list is as rote and cookie cutter as assessments go; one need only look up “Britpop” compilations on Amazon to cobble it together, which leads me to believe the author might not have even been sperm when Britpop was happening.
      Salad had a reasonable performance on the UK indie charts and were met with several favorable reviews, so the attempt to retroactively alter history here is questionable (is research not needed at Stereogum or was the vitriolic hyperbole too hard to resist?).
      Also don’t get how bands that sold well in their own country such as Ash and Ocean Colour Scene qualify as second tier. Had this article been penned with any modicum of imagination or research had been done more carefully, we might be seeing other names here, such as Puressence, Elcka, Delicatessen, Thurman, Rialto or Powder.

  12. I would have made a C-list instead of lumping the horrible shit bands into the actually pretty good but didn’t quite “make it” in the US bands.

    I mean the ones that made 3-4 albums can’t really be too much of a failures compared to the one-hitters that never had a second album make it to a US release at all. Like putting Salad and Supergrass or Catatonia into the same bin is pretty wide and really puts a pretty high ceiling on B-list and a very very low floor on it too.

  13. Got to say, I’m quite surprised by your analysis of Salad here – they were one of the more leftfield Britpop bands, certainly given what seemed to be a fairly prevalent Pixies/Pavement/Sebadoh influence and lo-fi sound in places. Their debut album ‘Drink Me’ is an interesting, oddball record which covers quite a bit of ground and has some cracking individual songs on there (check out ‘Your Ma’, ‘Drink the Elixir’ and ‘Man With a Box’ in particular).

    Over here in the UK, the bands who are regarded as Britpop’s nadir are the artless Oasis clones (Northern Uproar), unsophisticated “shed-rockers” (Shed Seven and the like) and the irrelevant, catch-all cack that tagged on to the party (Menswe@r, Space, Me Me Me and so forth). In fact, S*M*A*S*H* and the ill-fated ‘New Wave of New Wave’ scene (admittedly largely a product of the music press’s imagination) are widely regarded as something of a go-to punchline every time a prospective new musical “movement” raises its head…

    Echobelly do hold up surprisingly well these days, though a recent listen the same can’t really be said for Sleeper. Supergrass also pushed themselves fairly consistently throughout their career, though perhaps remained above all a great singles band. Regardless of where you sit on their general milieu, however, both Dodgy’s ‘Free Peace Sweet’ and Ocean Colour Scene’s ‘Moseley Shoals’ are tremendous albums worthy of more than being regarded simply as a throwaway footnote.

    Two others who merit a mention are Elastica (one great debut, then cock-all), and the Longpigs (same), though I appreciate that the latter probably didn’t make their way across the pond! It’s been quite interesting though to see what the US made of Britpop on its 20th Anniversary while we’re doing the same in the UK – and even more instructive to see which albums and songs hold up after all this time.

    • Saw the Longpigs open for Echo and the Bunnymen in San Diego around 1997, and they were pretty good. Really like that first album.

      Echobelly has been a long time favorite of mine. I always loved Sonya’s vocal style, and I actually think People Are Expensive may have been their best album. Bums me out that I never got a chance to see them live.

  14. I would also add Cast to this list. I remember that CD making the rounds of my britpop enthusiasts. I think “Walkaway” was the biggie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3ZskbLa_Io&feature=kp

  15. CAN YOU HEAR US HUMPING ON YOUR STEREO

  16. Bis played one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, but until I read this article I’d completely forgetten about them. I didn’t know anything about the band going in, and strangely didn’t feel the need to get their records afterward – somehow you could just tell that whatever it was that was special about them only happened on stage.

  17. Lots of awful bands, but I loved The Boo Radleys. I don’t think they ever released a bad album (I love “Kingsize” too). “Giant Steps” was a great psych/shoegaze record, “Wake Up” wasn’t just the (great) pop songs, and “C’Mon Kids” was one of those “retreat-back-to” records that still sound awesome.

  18. In terms of cynical attempts to cash-in, you’re forgetting Lush. “Single Girl” and “Shake Baby Shake” were prime examples.

  19. I disagree that The Boo Radley’s “Kingsize” was insipid, it’s a great album! Any record that has a song called “Jimmy Webb is God” can’t be bad. http://youtu.be/5z9R_vdyEuk
    I wouldn’t even class them as a “britpop” band, they were a bit too strange. If it wasn’t for a “Wake up Boo!” they probably wouldn’t be lumped in with “brit pop”. All the albums from “Giant Steps” onwards are great.

  20. Wheres Kula Shaker?

  21. I think there was a band called Feeder that would fit on this list. Don’t know much about them but I remember them being on some Brit pop collection album that looked a lot like this list. I hated the whole thing.

  22. Where the flying fuck is Super Furry Animals?

    A chronically overlooked band that has brought me much joy over the years. And their far more dependable than most of the Britpop A-listers – none of their albums are perfect, but they all have moments of pop brilliance. Many, many moments in fact.

    For shame!

    • Are they really Brit-Pop? I kind of figured they were of a different era. Though I’d disagree that none of their albums are perfect. I think Rings Around the World is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. Guerrilla is phenomenal as well, and they did some really great stuff when they started working with Sean O’Hagan (Frequency has probably my favorite string section ever). Really awesome live band as well.

      They’re in a completely different class than any of the bands on this list (except maybe Supergrass).

      • Rings Around the World is one of the best albums of the 2000s.

        • Run Christian Run is exquisite.

          I really want to see an SFA Worst to Best ranking on this site. That would make me happy and (hopefully) would turn the ig’nant on to their awesomeness.

          • Back of the envelope….

            9. Dark Days/Light Years
            8. Mwng
            7. Love Kraft (though it has arguably my favorite SFA song).
            6. Hey Venus!
            5. Fuzzy Logic
            4. Radiator
            3. Phantom Power
            2. Rings Around the World
            1. Guerrilla

      • Maybe you’re right – they are a slightly different thing. Though, I think like Radiohead, they may not have been given the chance they got had it not been for Britpop. The scene spawned a whole lot of bands that weren’t connected to the scene, sort of like how the Flaming Lips were signed to Warner Bros. during that frenzy to capitalize on alternative nation in the U.S. spawned by Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

        Hmmmm.

    • I don’t think a band that maintained a level of awesome consistency throughout 7 albums can be considered B-listers.

      • Seven? I count nine. Fuzzy Logic, Radiator, Guerrilla, Mwng, Rings, Phantom Power, Love Kraft, Hey Venus!, and Dark Days/Light Years. Unless you don’t consider Mwng a real album and didn’t care for the last one, which is defensible.

    • super furries are great

  23. Also it seems to me like the British love their mediocrity. Like, every country has their leeches but the UK venerates every single one of them. You just have to be a band in Britain and you’re the Next Big Thing. Remember the deluge of post-punkers in the 00′s? Yeeeuguguh I still shudder when I think about the Pigeon Detectives or Maximo Park.

  24. Dodgy’s debut album is a fine record, and I’ll stand on Liam Gallagher’s coffee table wearing my plimsolls and say it.

    • I’ve seen the way Liam guards his lines of blow, and if you think your plimsolls are getting anywhere near his coffee table you’re sadly mistaken.

  25. What about CAST?! Their first record (All Change) was so great, it should have been here. They had two uk top 10 albums I think and their songs were amazing.

  26. What about Hurricane #1? Noel Rock at its finest.

  27. Bis’ biggest hit song was ‘Eurodisco’, and the ‘Social Dancing’ album was much better than ‘Return to Central’ – the latter was completely overlooked by everyone. Also lot of stupid things in this article about Salad, Ash, but the other posters corrected them before me.

  28. Is Pulp more popular in the US than Supergrass? Blur and The Verve each had a hit, but I don’t get why Pulp is an elite band and Supergrass is a wannabe (by the way all four of these bands are/were consistently awesome).

    Also, that Ocean Colour Scene song is a complete rip off of “I Am the Walrus” right? The melody of the verse seems identical

  29. Fun list. Newport is in Wales, btw, and I can’t think of a UK town of more than 80,000 more virulently anti-english.

  30. No Kula Shaker?

  31. what about Mansun? They were players for a couple of years

    • As someone that lived every epic/crap moment of that era, I’d like to ask if anyone remembers that it was a messy scene before Britpop won the war. Lots of mentions here about Nirvana and Grunge, but even before Kurt died and that scene became rubbish, New Wave Of New Wave got pretty big, especially in London. It turned it’s back on Grunge and looked instead to the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Buzzcocks for inspiration. When I saw Smash on the list it reminded me that they weren’t actually Britpop, which explains why they sound particularly punky and angry. For a period of no more than fifteen months, before it crashed into Britpop, NWONW or Nu-Punk was were it was at. 60ft Dolls were part of that movement, along with Daisy Chainsaw, These Animal Men, Dizzy Q Viper and Space Maiden. There were others I just can’t remember at the moment. I think a lot of the Britpop bands were in that scene and then changed overnight to (badly) imitate the Big Four.

  32. FYI – Richard Parfitt was the 60 Ft. Dolls frontman, not Mike Cole. That’s pretty common knowledge for anyone who ever listened to the band or paid attention to Britpop.

    • You’re right, I will fix that. Thanks

      • Some hard fact that you seemed to have got wrong: Newport is not in England, but a very tough working class town in Wales, and is in fact, The Washington Post recently did an article about Newport entitled: ‘The Fiscal Cliff’ highlighting what could happen to working class towns in the USA if the ‘market crashed’. In Wales NOT England. Mike Cole (bassist for the Dolls) did write Hair and shared lead vocal duties with Parfitt. The 60 ft Dolls were not tailor made for the movement at all – as someone has already mentioned, the Dolls were going yrs. before Britpop and released singles on the Pooh Sticks ‘Townhill’ label, as well as Rough Trade and Fierce Panda, before signing to RCA, and then eventually Geffen in the states. The 60ft Dolls album Big 3, was listed in Mojo magazine as one of the 12 best albums of the 90s and picked up a raft of excellent reviews when it came out, and charted in the top 40 also. This is a mean spirited an factually incorrect piece -

  33. Animals That Swim are Britpop, right? I’m disappointed not a lot of people know them here in the states. Songs like Faded Glamour and Pink Carnations are fantastic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yR32O2vXLHQ

    • I remember hearing the name Animals That Swim at the time but never got around to checking them out. that youtube song you posted is great! thanks for posting.

  34. Elastica should definitely be here…

    Anyone remember Republica and their hit ‘Ready To Go’ yup that didn’t age well

  35. Have to agree some of these bands like Supergrass, Embrace, The Bluetones and Ash dont deserve to be on same list as Bis and Salad.. Personally though I loved most bands on list, other honorable mentions wither b, c or d list would be Marion, Menswear, Shampoo, The Longpigs, Elastica, Geneva, Rialto, Honeycrack and Puressence

  36. Interesting list, although there are some omissions that people already mentioned. I would split these bands into a few categories though.

    First:: The Boo Radleys: Best band of the 90:s, and ‘Giant Steps’ is the best album of the 90:s. In addition, they also chunked out ‘Everythings Alright Forever’ and Wake Up, Boo!’: both masterpieces. If their was any justice in this world you would have a Boo Radley week next. Also, their ambitions were way too large to fit into the brit pop brand, just as it had pushed them out of the shoegazing brand where they started out.

    Then, I agree that Echobellys first was seriously underrated, and I don’t think Divine Comedy has anything to do on this list, he did really not feel like a part of that scene. Also his best time was ahead of him, ‘Absent Friends’ is really the album he was born to make. Ash and Supergrass are also too good to be hidden in a list like this.

    For most of the other band, very few had more than a handful of good singles in them, but some of those were on the other hand amazing, and some of my favorites can be heard here (‘Inbetweener’, ‘Good Enough’). And actually that is one of the things I liked about the scene. Write an amazing pop song and you had your 15 minutes.

  37. “Sadly, this energy was never captured fully on record….”
    I’m not sure I could handle them being any more energetic than they are on their records, and I’m a fan. Also, Return to Central was the perfect way to go out. So much for distinguishing yourself as a music critic.

  38. An article so shoddily researched and factually incorrect that it does nothing but bring damage the good reputation of Stereogum and its writers -

    • Sorry you feel this way, Terry. I worked quite hard on the piece and did a ton of research. I even lived through the era, and this was a lot of fun to write for me.

      • If you had researched it properly you would have found out that Newport is in Wales, and that the 60ft dolls were anything but a tailor made band – they were in fact included by John Peel into his top BBC sessions of all time and included in the New York Times record of the year, produced by the Mekons Jon Langford, etc. You also would have discovered that Ash’s third album went straight to number 1 in the UK, and that their still together and have had over 18 hits in the top 40 – still doing great – Smash were great, but the idea that they were Britpop, is absurd -

      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veEg-LKyfkA

        the lack of any mention of bis’s best known song and one of my favourites
        really shows your lack of thoroughness, but overall the article is pretty good and I hadn’t heard of 2 or 3 of these guys.

  39. Anybody else listening to the Damon Albarn interview about the birth of britpop on NPR right now?

  40. Putting Supergrass on B list seems very odd – surely they defined Britpop and are fully deserving A list status? Ditto Super Furry Animals…fun article though…I would add Rialto and My Life Story to list – both totally underrated!

  41. And this pre dates Brit pop – surely came out 2 years too early https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsmxX_oHnMI&feature=kp

  42. Supergrass were second wave Britpop but not b-list. They were too classy to be lumped in with these other chumps.

  43. Did anyone comment yet on the fact that 60 ft. dolls WERE the Weddoes lite? Down to the dude’s haircut…even his face? Was that Dave Gedge’s little brother?

  44. ALL YOU GOOD GOOD PEOPLE

  45. Embrace and Cast were horrific. Northern Uproar were a joke. Ocean Colour Scene were repugnant. I preferred this lot, who were all working hard but being drowned out by the Britpop copycat pap:
    The Wedding Present
    Trashcan Sinatras
    Teenage Fanclub
    Stereolab
    Geneva
    Kingmaker
    Swervedriver
    The Blue Aeroplanes
    The Frank & Walters.

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