Shine 5 (Polygram TV, 1996)

Review
After four single disc compilations, Polygram TV went all out for Shine 5 and gave us two CDs containing 42 tracks. It was compiled in association with Infectious, Polydor, A&M, Mother, Island, Sony, Go! Discs, MCA, One Little Indian, EMI, Setanta, Gut Reaction, Creation, London, Indolent, Mercury, China, BMG, Nude, Jive, 4AD and Mushroom.

Getting things off with a blast are Ash with their thrilling key change overload Goldfinger. Upon release, the 1977 LP and cassette versions were sold for £4.49 in the UK or £4.99 in Ireland. The CD had an annoying hidden track within a track – Sick Party – that popped up after a lengthy silence on Darkside Lightside. One of the most infuriating things about the CD era. The melody lingers on song 2, Shed Seven’s so wistful Going For Gold (nicely done Polygram!) which has lovely horns popping up around 1:30 or so. Next are Dodgy and their #12 smash In A Room, a tightly played bop with just the right seasoning of retro ’60s dust. Continuing the theme are the Longpigs and the underrated She Said, a catchy gem that you don’t hear often enough nowadays. Breaking the mood are The Cranberries and their abrasive Salvation, impossible to ignore back then. To The Faithful Departed saw the band fall out of favour with the critics and indeed, an unjustified backlash followed – like the one Simple Minds and UB40 got when they released sub-standard later material.

Another punchbag for the critics were Kula Shaker whose debut album K remains a firm favourite in this house. Grateful When You’re Dead is a fun romp, not to be taken too seriously. It (along with Tattva) was described as the worst singles of 1996 by a rather uptight Neil Kulkarni of Melody Maker. On K, Grateful is melded with Jerry Was There on the album and CD singles but the promo standalone edit of 2:52 is included here. Next: Paul Weller’s super Sunday soundclash Out Of The Sinking. It was around this time that the NME turned on him with their pathetic Dadrock jibes. And right on cue, here come Ocean Colour Scene and their enjoyable chug The Day We Caught The Train. The ongoing criticism that persisted against them was possibly the worst form of musical snobbery I have ever read. Go bitter: Skunk Anansie’s caustic Charity while the inclusion of Cast’s album track History (admittedly great) was a strange move at the time – even though a remix was commissioned and released as a promo-only 12″ in 1997. There she goes baggy.

Stereotypes was the opening track on Blur’s The Great Escape and if I remember correctly, the first LP played on my new Ariston turntable purchased in Richer Sounds, September 1995. Paul Lester: “Blur understand the geometry of the song, and the basic principles of pop, better than anyone today.” I still find it an uneven listen but it does retain a certain charm, particular on He Thought Of Cars and that song about winning. Meanwhile the Divine Comedy and Super Furry Animals song of the same name – Something For The Weekend – is separated by Space’s Female Of The Species, which those of a certain age will always associate with as the theme tune for ITV’s Cold Feet. The Divine Comedy’s Weekend kicks off the lavish Casanova with a impressive ooomph while the SFA’s tune is a slowed down (and less effective) version of the killer Fuzzy Logic album highlight. Moving on…Supergrass’ Going Out was the first fruit from In It For The Money and maintains the psych undertones of the debut era while providing a fresh lick of paint for the mid-90s.

Marion make it three appearances in a row with the deceptively bouncy Sleep while the sequencing Gods smile on as Sleeper follow with the irrepressible Inbetweener. Next Tim Booth & Angelo Badalamenti – what a combination – on the grandiose I Believe. Say hello to Bernard Butler on guitar. And the Blameless who introduce a slight rock edge on the plaintive Breathe (A Little Deeper). This fits in well on the next number, the Gin Blossoms’ endearing power-pop blast Follow You Down which takes me back to midweek nights in The Mean Fiddler’s downstairs bar. Taxi in from Rathmines, no expense spared. Disc 1 concludes with a brace from the intertwined Cardigans and Wannadies. The so-gentle buoyancy of Rise & Shine contrasting with the exuberant wedding song You & Me Song.

CD2 starts off on very familiar (to millions) territory with Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger and Pulp’s Sorted For E’s And Wizz. The latter is the single version with the bloke in Camden Town now being “messed up”. On a separate note, I was playing Bar Italia last weekend and it’s the perfect post-club tune, an apt soundtrack to searching for a taxi in the rain. Changing moods, Ash’s sappy Oh Yeah remains a glorious summer anthem while Menswear’s Being Brave seems to be finally getting some belated praise. It’s cautiously optimistic, mentions the changing of the seasons and the fact that the mornings are not as cold. Last year’s 4CD box is well worth a purchase, that lost second album is splendid. Next are Radiohead and Fake Plastic Trees which was the third single from The Bends and a record that’s associated with cramming for my finals. The sound of panic and Jolt Cola coupled with heaped instant espresso a feature of that torrid month of May 1995.

By time of this compilation’s release, Gene’s Sleep Well Tonight was approximately 18 months old. It’s inclusion is still welcome despite the series already featuring later singles from the band. The opening verse is particularly descriptive and again, brings to mind the exodus of people from nightclubs. There’s an air of menace throughout its four minutes with the chorus suitably soaring. Olympian is one of the great Britpop albums and really should be heralded more. Next is Suede’s The Wild Ones. Taken from the glorious Dog Man Star, this is a show-stopper. Beautifully sung and impossibly romantic, it manages to freeze that 1994-1995 period in time, forever young. And then Northern Uproar’s euphoric Town, a heartfelt jam that’s even more poignant since Jeff Fletcher’s tragic death in 2014. The appearance of The Stone Roses’ One Love makes no sense at all – it was already used on Shine 3 – had Polygram TV forgotten? That’s an example of really sloppy compiling.

Mansun’s Take It Easy Chicken – possibly the worst-named song of its era – comes with a powerful riff that carries the whole tune. Nice one. Meanwhile Lush’s third album – the bright and brash Lovelife – seemed to fit in with the mood of the time and the bouncy Single Girl is a welcome inclusion. It’s followed by Terrorvision’s very workmanlike Perseverance and The Levellers’ dreary Hope Street before the 60 Ft Dolls rock out on the catchy Talk To Me. On Mother Records is the long-forgotten (justifiably so) Into My World courtesy of Audioweb while Sice’s Eggman drops the underwhelming Not Bad Enough. More blandness: Salt’s all-knowing Bluster. Breaking this spell of mediocrity are Folk Implosion, a Lou Barlow and John Davis side project that provided a number of key tunes for the soundtrack to Larry Clark’s Kids. The film was aired at the 1996 Dublin Film Festival, late night at the IFC 1. It’s a superbly crafted piece that makes for uncomfortable viewing. Natural One is a stoner anthem and came with a number of very cool remixes. Sebadoh’s Spoiled plays over the closing credits but Slint’s Good Morning Captain is the final track on the LP. Shine 5 then concludes with Garbage’s edgy Magazine-like Queer.

I first read about Whipping Boy in Hot Press; a gig review from The Underground, Dublin. This was 1989 and I was still in secondary school. It all sounded fabulously intense and my appetite was whetted even further when I saw the review of their Sweet Mangled Thing cassette release; pretty sure Gerry McGovern wrote the piece. The band signed to Cheree Records and released their Whipping Boy EP during the summer of 1990. It kept selling out its allocation in the shops; one particular excursion that September saw one of my friends nabbing the last copy in Comet because he got into the shop first. I finally picked one up a couple of months later and the equally great I Think I Miss You 12″ in the spring of 1991. I caught a number of the bands gigs in the 1990-1992 period; the most memorable being a crazy night at The Underground (complete with Fearghal swinging the mic stand above his head), an intense blast at Kilkenny’s Newpark Inn (not hotel) via a Mazda 323 and the Submarine album launch in Dublin’s Rock Garden. The latter had a free 7″ single on the way in – a promo on Liquid Records with Safari and Favourite Sister on it.

Submarine was a fine debut album and managed to capture the energy of those early gigs. Only one “old” track made the LP – Valentine ’69 – but other early ones like Switchblade Smile, Sugar I Swear & Highwayman continued to feature on many mixtapes made by me during that time. The LP was purchased in Comet on release day; the CD would come later – again, like many Irish releases of its era a tough one to track down. Whipping Boy are primarily remembered for their brilliant second album Heartworm (1995) and its three excellent singles – Twinkle, We Don’t Need Nobody Else and When We Were Young. Each one is represented on Tom Dunne’s three compilations of Irish rock. Twinkle features on Shine 5, buried at track 17 on CD2. It’s a majestic beast, blinding guitars and pleasant strings, and never lets up for its five minutes. Heartworm was on Columbia, a blue vinyl pressing that hung around for quite a while but is extremely sought after now. A classic.

Whipping Boy at The Newpark Inn, Kilkenny in 1991. Photograph from Malcolm Noonan.

Favourite tracks
Folk Implosion – Natural One

Gene – Sleep Well Tonight

Shed Seven – Going For Gold

Menswear – Being Brave

Northern Uproar – Town

Lest we forget
Whipping Boy – Twinkle

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1 Response to Shine 5 (Polygram TV, 1996)

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

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