The television advert for Shine calls it an “An album of sheer brilliance.” Back in 1995, the Indie Top 20 series was the industry’s most reliable compilation of alternative hits and had been on the go since 1987. Over the years, major labels had tried their hand at one-offs such as Rave, Product 2378, Precious and Loaded while Island’s Happy Daze ran for two volumes. And Polygram TV had previous – with Reading: The Indie Album in 1992. Love.
Unlike the above examples, the first instalment in the Shine franchise feels a bit random. Recent smashes rub shoulders with old stalwarts. I guess at that point, they could not had known how the future would pan out. Three of the opening four tracks can be heard on the superb Now That’s What I Call Music 29 – Blur’s Parklife, Oasis’ Cigarettes & Alcohol (neatly foretelling the summer battle) along with The Cranberries’ Zombie. Meanwhile Elastica’s Connection is a song that I’d like to have seen on that Now record, Elastica – Connection – squeeze beside Shampoo. Thankfully it makes an appearance here, a cold and almost monotone classic neatly wrapped up in less than 150 seconds. Not as Wire-like as Line Up or as splendidly tuneful as Waking Up, it still remains one of 1994’s most memorable moments. Equally anthemic were New Order as the epic guitar and bass of the Stephen Hague-produced Regret ushered students out on the floor in their hundreds. Dazed in O’Connell Street, 13th Floor on Wednesdays. Ghosts of shoegazing past. Love II.
While Blur and Oasis were in pole position, both Suede and Pulp had also gathered momentum. Animal Nitrate is included, dating back to the spring of 1993 while Do You Remember The First Time was an April 1994 memory. Less immediate were Dodgy and the musically fantastic So Let Me Go Far while Shed Seven’s Speakeasy still retains a glow of effortless cool, memories of Ranelagh street lighting and open windows. Melody and poses, a great combination. There’s an abrupt turn westward next as Green Day jump into view; Welcome To Paradise sounds ace turned up but back then it was a garish interloper. Things take a similar turn much later on with Dinosaur Jr’s blindingly top late-period banger Feel The Pain. Brilliant track but really doesn’t belong on Shine. Love III.
Eight of The Smiths’ singles had unique single edits (there was only one version of the other songs). These are:
Hand In Glove
This Charming Man
What Difference Does It Make?
How Soon Is Now?
That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side
Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me
The February 1995 Singles album only includes one of these – This Charming Man – which is also readily available elsewhere. It’s flawed from the very start – kicking off with the album version (“remixed by John Porter”) of Hand In Glove. However on Shine, we get a special treat as the (inferior) 7″ edit of How Soon Is Now? is included. This was a significant coup given the failure of the band’s compilation to get it right. While it’s a welcome inclusion, going right back to 1985 (rather than looking to more recent hits) emphasises the rather haphazard approach that Polygram TV took to Shine. Love IV.
Supporters in 1984, James, bring us back to baggy times with the perennial Sit Down. And then Electronic’s wonderful Getting Away With It featuring Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr plus Neil Tennant guesting. Elsewhere, I’m transported back to Féile ’91 and ’92 as The Wonder Stuff, Inspiral Carpets and The Farm all drop in. The Stuffies were hitting their stride on LP #3 Never Loved Elvis while the stomping Size Of A Cow went top 5. The Farm’s All Together Now, released at this time 30 years ago, still remains endearingly memorable, a bright Christmas memory from a dazzling few weeks. Keeping Mad(chester) is the Inspiral Carpets’ intensely swirling Dragging Me Down along with The Charlatans’ frenzied Weirdo. Less effective are Jesus Jones are the rather overwrought International Bright Young Thing. We finish with the thematically appropriate Shine On, the House Of Love’s re-recording of their debut 45 which charmed so many of us in early 1990. Fontana, the perpetually overlooked second album really deserves a re-appraisal. Love V.
The Farm – All Together Now
Elastica – Connection
The Smiths – How Soon Is Now?
Lest we forget
Shed Seven – Speakeasy