After the heavily-praised NME Singles Of The Year 1992, the magazine followed the same pattern in January 1994 with a look at the previous year’s super 45s. The brief editorial makes reference to “a Great Pop Moment”; there are plenty of these on show here.
Arrested Development – Tennessee: “Easy going, right-on but brilliantly off beat post Daisy age hip hop.” (Johnny Cigarettes, 27 March)
Belly – Gepetto (Remix): “Wonderfully stunted pop tune a go-go, this a remix of the second single from Star, which means there is a slight echo on the guitar halfway through which is different to the original. All you indie trainspotters out there will have a ball trying to find it.” (Johnny Cigarettes, 27 March)
Senser – The Key: “Funk and spleen, acid squelch, plutonium riffola and crusty cool that takes a ratchet to the nuts of the Stereo MCs’ dopey drive and makes Rage Against The Machine sound like a one trick band.” (Stuart Bailie, 18 September)
Madder Rose – Madder Rose: “New York’s Madder Rose chose to avoid the grunge lunging norm and plump for a lazy, almost absent-mindedly endearing slice of life.” (Simon Williams, 23 January)
One Dove – White Love: “One Dove are fantastic. They are Saint Etienne with half an idea. They are Erasure without any Erasure-like attributes. They are a dark haired tiny version of Sharon Stone without her pants on. Only the dead of heart can fail to feel their pulse quicken to it.” (Ian McCann, 7 August)
Tindersticks – Marbles: “An obsessive long song for the ’90s which veers between church confessional and courtroom alibi. Michael Stipe would be proud of the attitude and incoherence on display here. A single of the year.” (Terry Staunton, 13 March)
Credit To The Nation – Call It What You Want: “MC Fusion offers a great variety of opinions about a lot of useless rappers and insists on respect for the women, which is fine by me. The whole thing rolls along like a bastard barrel of bastard beans.” (David Quantick, 31 July)
Utah Saints – Believe In Me: “This record will pass through pop’s mighty ocean like a sexy galleon. Sodding ace.” (David Quantick, 1 May)
Swervedriver – Duel: “Misty-eyed vocals and seething wall-to-wall guitars clench together before springing apart in huge surges of emotion, all the while undepinned by a bass purring away like a newly tuned V12 engine. You won’t hear a more self-evidently great rock ‘n’ roll record for some while.” (Keith Cameron, 24 July)
Bjork – Venus A Boy (Edit): “Bizarrely gorgeous. Head spinningly eclectic and exotic instrumentation accompanies Bjork’s incredible voice, which is more sparkling and spine-stroking than it’s been since Birthday sent everyone into wibbling raptures.” (Johnny Cigarettes, 21 August)
Elastica – Stutter: “Spiky, spunky and tighter than Brett Anderson’s kinky vests: a sheer rush of frivolity and a sense of cool abandonment that only a band supremely confident of their impending celebrity could pull off.” (Johnny Dee, 16 October)
Spiritualized – Good Times: “Phil Spector plays the hits of The Orb. In space. Backwards. A record to melt into and be carried away in a luxurious sulking delirium. Absolute genius at play.” (Johnny Dee, 16 October)
Smashing Pumpkins – Cherub Rock: “A gripping spurt of screwed-down melody, dipping and twisting astonishingly without losing any of the concussive pressure of the nuclear sludge attack guitars. This is anti-slacker American Rock at its best.” (Roger Morton, 26 June)
Apache Indian – Movin’ On Special: “What makes this great agit pop is its immediacy. The lyrics deal specifically with the Tower Hamlets debacle, there’s an urgent, rushed edge to Apache’s delivery, no sweeping statements or bursting bouts of rhetoric, just a stunned statement of disbelief.” (Steven Wells, 9 October)
PJ Harvey – 50 Ft Queenie: “Yet another startling, emphatic slab of potent punk rock, delivered in a flurry of intensity, which highlights Polly’s ability to manoeuvre her voice to sound spent, torn and bleeding with emotive intensity. Absolutely glorious.” (Gina Morris, 10 April)
Sugar – Tilted: “A straightforward blast-ahead rock band tilted off their centre of gravity, wild melodic tangents zinging around like an out of control gyroscope. How does a band channel such incendiary passion and remain so together?” (Keith Cameron, 24 July)
Grant Lee Buffalo – America Snoring: “A rocket-powered stunt bike across the Grand Canyon with no parachute and a steaming river of shit below. Bleeding heart stadium rock should always sound like this.” (Stephen Dalton, 14 August)
Leftfield / Lydon – Open Up (Vocal Edit): “Punk is definitely not dead. Barriers have been broken down over the past year and Leftfield have played their part with a series of immaculately crafted singles, but Open Up is their finest moment yet. The true mark of its greatness is that, for all Lydon’s past history, this sounds as fresh as if he’d been dragged off the street and shown a microphone for the very first time.” (Iestyn George, 23 October)
“Marry me and leave Kentucky, come to Tennessee”
The CD leads with the arresting Tennessee which tells the story of losing two close family members in a short space of time. The song uses a sample from Prince’s Alphabet Street which was not cleared in advance. Prince’s lawyers waited until after the song sold well and then charged Arrested Development $100,000 for the use of same. Next are Belly with Gepetto; a track initially released in November 1992 and one that gives me flashbacks of Philosophy tutorials at 4.30pm on dark Wednesday afternoons. Classic jangle and one never tires of Tanya. By the time this remix came out, the sun was shining and we were cramming for first year exams. Thanks to Howard Grey for the subtle improvements. And then Senser, with all the rage in the world on The Key (Radio Edit). Litter bruscar in flats.
Madder Rose’s gorgeous eponymous 45 was later retitled Swim. Here it is in original birth form. “Your arms in a wild mutation” is what I remember most. Skipping lectures and heading straight for The Trap. Zipping over to the club zone; One Dove’s euphoric White Love reminds me of the bar on Friday nights, Francois Pitton (not Kevorkian) on the decks as we hustled for more pool under different rules. Shots carry or not? Fast forward to the wee small hours as Marbles comes on. Richard Russell has the lowdown: “A song for those moments when you find yourself at 3.00AM with a whisky in your hand wondering where it all went wrong.” Album of the year in Melody Maker; a real turn up for the books and a completely fascinating noctural listen. Fruitless was included as a bonus track on the vinyl version – as the album’s second song between Nectar and Tyed. The title is shown as struck out on the CD sleeve. It later turned up on the No More Affairs CD single.
In what must be the biggest *gotcha* intro ever, Credit To The Nation’s Call It What You Want routinely fooled indie fans dancing at the disco bumper to bumper. Its ace Nirvana sample led to the initial pressing of 1,000 copies on Rugger Bugger selling out before being picked up by One Little Indian for a reissue. It also sampled Public Enemy’s Welcome To The Terrordrome. Meanwhile Utah Saints’ Believe In Me sample the Human League’s Love Action (I Believe In Love), Sylvester’s Do You Wanna Funk? and Crown Heights Affair’s You Gave Me Love. The next three numbers – Swervedriver’s Duel, Bjork’s Venus As A Boy & Elastica’s Stutter all featured on Indie Top 20 Volume 18 which I recently reviewed. As did Sugar’s deeply emotional and angry Tilted. Check out my opinions. Mixed by Jason Pierce & Mike Long, Good Times was taken from Spiritualized’s standalone Electric Mainline EP, full of deeply melodic (saccharine) hits.
Siamese Dream turned 27 in recent weeks; unlike some people they didn’t “lose me” at that point and in fact, went from strength to strength. As I said before, I wasn’t a fan of them to begin with and the hipster kids in Theatre L gushing about Gish didn’t convince me either. Cherub Rock saw them finally loosen up and get into the groove. Next are Apache Indian with the admirable anti-BNP manifesto Movin’ On Special. To PJ Harvey; 1993 was her year. Rid Of Me was totally immense, a cathartic Steve Albini production. And then there was the raw accompaniment of 4 Track Demos. 50Ft Queenie saw Rob Ellis on drums. 2:26 of intensity. Equally deep, and resonating now are Grant Lee Buffalo with the caustic American Snoring. That just leaves time for some anarchy in the UK as John Lydon meets Leftfield on the molten groove of Open Up. It really was the era of despair to where.
Tindersticks – Marbles
Madder Rose – Madder Rose
Lest we forget
Credit It To The Nation – Call It What You Want