Starting this list was easy. Stopping at 25 was the hardest thing I’ve done all week. And lets be frank here: I’ve done some hard things this week. (THATS WHAT SHE SAID). With that said it’s hard to really rank albums because of it’s subjectivity, and not to mention band’s fans ego’s getting hurt if a band doesn’t appear.
The complex part of it is if you want to go true Britpop you would stick to the mid 90’s but the Arctic Monkeys are britpop in a sense and so were New Order and The Smiths. All perfect britpop example. Then there is the ultra complex issue (it’s not that complex) of what to do about Robbie Williams or the Spice Girls? Same time period, British AND pop. They don’t appear here but they could. And you wouldn’t be remiss in thinking most of those bands I mentioned should.
So this is my list of what I quantify as Britpop; a list of guitar heavy british rock bands with a sound that defined the 90’s but firmly rooted in 60’s jangle pop. For the most part it sticks to the mid 90’s sound but also the albums that started the pop sound in that direction. So many albums are left off the list it kind of bums me out. Maybe we’ll get a top 100 list soon. So here goes..
25. The Second Coming – The Stone Roses
A friend of mine described what it was like when this album came out. “We all stood in line till midnight then ran home and listened to it. When the stores opened up the very next morning we were all back at the stores selling it back”. That’s a harsh story but nary was there a hyped sophomore effort from any band. Stand out tracks are the entire band penned Daybreak, the charming how do you sleep, and ten story love song. The rock anthems Breaking into heaven and love spreads are some of the finest guitar chops since someone chopped a guitar. Tears, your star will shine and tightrope are all majestic if not amazing. Trouble is the album was all over the place with guitar rock to sweet pop to outright dance, and then a huge amount of overdub’s. Good tunes by on different albums maybe. If The Stone Roses weren’t burdened by the past would we still judge this album as harshly though?
24. Elastica – Elastica
Here purely on the strength of Connection. If Damon was the King of Britpop, or either of the Gallagher brothers, then Justine was the Queen. Pulling only slightly from the shoegaze sound Elastica was just different enough to be awesome in their own way. The album opens strong with the song “line up” and it’s graham coxon guitar sound on through to “Car Song” (How could you not love this song?) to the ending “Waking Up”. This band packed in more pop in 40 minutes than most bands can ever hope to achieve. My beef is could you hear this album released today probably not, but it was great for that moment.
23. Free Peace Sweet – Dodgy
Released at the start of the spring in 1996 this album captured the hope, happiness, and carefree change that coincided with the coming change of the weather and political scene. In other words this is your “summer album”. The first song “in a room” starts off the album with a bang and despite some lull points there are lots of highlights.. Matthew Priests drumming guides the album all the way through and next to Alan White, or Jon Brooks was arguably the most vibrant drummer in the entire scene. The musicanship in this band is it’s strength. Your stand out track is Good enough whose only rival is Supergrass’s Alright for one of the strongest pop song piano’s you’ll ever hear and well worth the price of purchase.
22. His n’ Hers – Pulp
Surprisingly this was Pulp’s 4th album. Not many bands make it to even their 2nd album let alone just start making it at 4. Good news is this album was a sign of things to come with Jarvis Cocker’s knack for narrative and storytelling being developed on this album to excellent detail. You were hit with Lipgloss and Babies. To put it in perspective they were your teenage stories to the later on (young) adult stories of Common People and Disco 2000. Razzmatazz and Do you remember the first time were mind blowing and if you don’t like them I don’t know what to say. This album is full of fan favorites and although that doesn’t translate into critical success it does mean success all the same.
21. Modern Life is Rubbish – Blur
Not the “first” Brit-pop album but you can make a case for it. Also-ran’s from the Madchester scene Blur came out of nowhere (not really) with Modern Life. What this album suffers from is having too many songs – 14 not to mention the two breaks. BUt what it doesn’t suffer from is lack of good songs. For Tomorrow, Popscene, Turn it up, Coping, Sunday Sunday, Star Shaped, Villa Rosie, and Chemical world. However songs like Oily Water and pressure on julian, and resign belong more on Leisure than they do this album. Blur was at odd’s with itself and it shows here, but the new direction was looking stellar.
20. Tellin’ Stories – Charaltans (UK)
Rob Collins death appears all over this album. It burdens it but also free it. I struggle with it because it’s an emotional roller coaster going from sad to outright jubilation on the #1 worldwide single “One to Another“. You have to wonder if Rob had not died that fateful night would this album have taken the more somber moments into some classic pop zones he was so known for musically. There are super high points here however; watershed songs such as North Country Boy and How High rank in the Charlatans live setlists. However you then get the come down of Rob’s Theme, Get on it, and how can you leave us. All beautiful songs in their own way but out of place for me. It’s especially surprising when the charlatans left off 3 class b-sides: title fight, two of us and clean up kid.
Part 2 coming up soon…