Indie Top 20 Volume 20 (Beechwood Music, 1994)

Review
The 20th instalment in the series continues the design of Indie Top 20 Volume 19 and its release coincided with me starting my final year in college. Melody Maker were now back on the pitch, a reminder of those halycon late ’80s days. “And they look at the grass.”

My take on Oasis:
Definitely Maybe – really really fun record with great energy
What’s The Story Morning Glory – pretty good even if over-familiar at this stage.
Be Here Now – some good songs, terribly produced and very hard to listen to.
Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants – psych! three good songs, rest mediocre.
Heathen Chemistry – one ok song, rest shite.
Don’t Believe The Truth – two ok songs, remainder turgid.
Dig Out Your Soul – three to four strong tunes and no stinkers.
Great B-sides in the first three years too.
This CD starts at the beginning with their debut single Supersonic; all killer riffs, swagger and arrogance. They played Dublin’s Tivoli on 3 September; Liam prowled around the stage – “You startin’?” The album soundtracked the late summer; I brought it to a party and passed out. The extra track was the sublime Sad Song, one of their finest ever.

You could apply that attitude to song #2, Echobelly’s dainty dirge I Can’t Imagine A World Without Me. Not their finest work and the one where Sonya elevates her own importance. Has nice psych elements but not enough to carry it. Far far better are Lush with the spiked, head-first rush of Hypocrite. They released two singles on that same day in June 1994; Hypocrite reached #52 with Desire Lines peaking at #63. Split was a fine album; as was the remix companion Cookie. I bought Split on the same day that the World Cup started. Listlessness and melancholy followed by euphoria as South Korea scored two late goals to equalise with Spain. Taking us even higher are Veruca Salt, daughter of Roy Kinnear and the sublime indie rocker Seether. A song that replaces lost energy and one that still makes me want to mosh even now. It went all the way to #3 in Peel’s Festive 50. There’s a really brilliant quiet / LOUD performance of it at Glastonbury ’95 here. Next are Tiny Monroe and the rather catchy Cream Bun which appeared in acoustic form on Volume Ten.

Gene’s second single Be My Light, Be My Guide is like a juggernaut. From its opening delivery – causing a mini slam dance in a well known Dublin pub when it came on the jukebox – the energy is seriously potent, like a late ’60s mod act teleported to the future, Black Carrion style. It’s followed by the absolutely fantastic I Want You; the Inspiral Carpets and special guest Mark E. Smith. Like a garage flower workout reminiscent of Dung 4, the interplay between the two vocalists is fantastic and the Top Of The Pops appearance was legendary. MES the prowler with his handwritten lyric sheets. A one-off.
“The Dutch East India Company and the U.S.A. of A
Think they can fool with their sincere use of your ear”

After a rather ordinary Charlatans 45, the somewhat anodyne Jesus Hairdo, we’re back to life with Lazarus, the Boo Radleys magnum opus, beloved of Dazed, The 13th Floor, 34 O’Connell Street. Every Wednesday, £1.50 in. The track was originally released in 1992, before Giant Steps and in ’94 was reissued with a bunch of remixes. Now Beechwood include album version here when it was the 7″ edit that was our shuffle of choice. Neatly sequenced afterwards are Transglobal Underground and their euphoric Protean.

Dos Dedos Mis Amigos, the Pop Will Eat Itself LP from 1994, gave up the metallic proto-industrial Everything’s Cool, complete with Akira samples. Equally crunchy are Ride with their faithful cover of The Creation’s How Does It Feel To Feel. I hold the minority view that Carnival Of Light is a greatly underrated LP with the band’s focus shifting to a psychedelic and jangly haze. John Leckie’s production is excellent and really brings out the trippy harmonies on tracks like From Time To Time, Crown Of Creation and Birdman. Next are Sugar with their (also) less heralded third album era; Your Favourite Thing is catchy and burrows into your brain after about 26 years. Nicely positioned are Velvet Crush and their wistful Hold Me Up, power-pop meets 1973 Byrds. The album Teenage Symphonies To God was recently liberated from my shelves and is well worth a listen.

The most consistent volume for ages continues with Sleeper’s exhilarating Delicious; a speedy rush and paean to youthful hook-ups. Video shot in a monochrome with clips of table football. And then Stereolab with one of their most accessible tracks to date – the swirling Ping Pong. At the time Mars Audiac Quintet was my least favourite but it has grown in stature since. Next are Drugstore with the dreamy pull of Starcrossed which builds up a nice warmer-upper for the Cranes’ driving Shining Road which is tinged by melancholia; travelling to escape. Meanwhile the Pale Saints survived the departure of Ian Masters and created an album called Slow Buildings which most people don’t seem to rate. Fine Friend is wonderfully affecting, a fond memory of late night chats with departed mates. I can see hear it in the background, the red carpet and brown curtains keeping out the dawn as we chat about everything. There’s just time for one more (very short) song – Frente with a short sharp cover of New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle. Back in the early days of Home & Away, the band used to get namechecked often & finally appeared in ’93. “And the sea, ah the smell of the sea, its all that ozone, its in the seaweed or something!”

Favourite tracks
Inspiral Carpets featuring Mark E. Smith – I Want You

Gene – Be My Light, Be My Guide

Veruca Salt – Seether

Lest we forget
Pale Saints – Fine Friend

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2 Responses to Indie Top 20 Volume 20 (Beechwood Music, 1994)

  1. Pingback: NME Singles Of The Week 1994 (NME / RCA, 1995) | A Pop Fan's Dream

  2. Pingback: Indie Top 20 Volume 23 (Beechwood Music, 1996) | A Pop Fan's Dream

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