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Inspiral Carpets - Cool as...

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 17 / 4 / 2003

Inspiral Carpets - Cool as...


The reformed Inspiral Carpets recently toured Britain, and also have an excellent new box set 'Cool as...' out soon . Anthony Strutt reflects back on their history, and profiles this new retrospective

The Inspiral Carpets new box set ‘Cool as...’ will be released on May 18th. It has two CDs. The first features all 20 of the bands singles, while the second, which is called ‘Rare as..’ and which runs to 17 tracks, features several B sides and also some other rarities. A DVD is also included, which compiles together the band’s 17 videos and some live footage. Disc 1 : Singles Collection Of the twenty tracks collected here only three are not well known. The first two tracks, ‘Keep the Circle Around’, which comes from the band’s debut ‘Plane Crash’ EP and ‘Butterfly’ from their second ‘Train Surfing’ EP, were recorded with the band’s original vocalist, Steve Holt, shortly before he left the group and the better known Tom Hingley joined the band. Both sold out very early on in the band's career, and still have the classic Inspiral Carpets sound. The other little known song is the closing number 'Come Back Tomorrow' ,which is the band's new single and which was recorded originally in 1995. All the remaining seventeen tracks- from the third track‘Joe’ to the nineteenth track ‘Uniform’-were sung by Tom, and at the time of their release held the nation’s youth in their hands. When these were hits and they were all hits, I was married. My ex wife used to treat each new release as a major event. Where she was from in Walsall, home to UB40 and half of the Charlatans. the Inspiral Carpets even had their cow logo and 'Cool As' slogans printed on milk bottles which then become collectors items. When Mute signed the band in 1990 and released 'This Is How It Feels', it didn't just grate a nerve. It changed indie music forever and started what became indie dance where indie fans actually danced rather than just stood there and looked cool. Lyrically the Inspirals music could be understood no matter what your background. They chose their name because a carpet leads to a door. They were also fans of the Doors and organist Clint Boon wanted to make the keyboard trendy again , so good taste bread in there. Within a short time they were part of the Manchester scene that became the 'Madchester' movement . The band always had good ideas. They financed the band in the early days with Clint's 'Cool As ****' cow T-shirt which were then manufactured by Tom’s clothes designer wife. They became best sellers, like their records would do. The Inspiral Carpets became regular visitors with their hits singles to ‘Top of the Pops’, more so than any other bands from that area. They even played TOTP more times then Manchester's other favourite sons, the Smiths. So what made the Inspirals different to the pack? Tom's catchy vocal line appealed to everyone. The chunky bass patterns of Clint's catchy keyboards also gave the band a retro feel. I personally feel that as the band progressed they just got better. These were not just songs. They were anthems, but they were never over played to the point where, unlike their roadie Noel Gallagher’s band, who even had a Clint Boon haircut at the time, you got bored with them. While much of this first disc was featured on the last Inspiral Carpets release which was called the ‘Singles’, it is still very much worth checking out.The new single 'Come Back Tomorrow' stands up to the rest of this disc's great work. Disc 2 'Rare As' 'Rare As' lasts almost 67 minutes and features all that and more. It kicks off with ‘Theme from Cow’, ‘Seeds Of Doubt' (which also later turned up on the B-side of 'This Is How It Feels' 12") ,’Garage Full of Flowers’ and a cover of the Mysterian's ‘96 Tears’ , all of which produced by the then ex-Chameleons guitarist Dave Fielding, appeared on the first ‘Plane Crash’ 12’ EP and are now making their debut on CD for the first time. This is then followed by ‘You Can’t Take the Truth’, ‘Greek Wedding’ and “Causeway’, three out of the four tracks from the second ‘Train Surfing’ EP. Again these are making their debut on CD. Stephen Holt then left and moved on to form a new band with an ex Bodines member and produced 2 singles under the name of the Rainkings. Tom became the vocalist and then their rise to fame started. Track 10 on this disc was remixed to death and, called ‘Commerical Rain/Reign’ depending on what mix you hear, is my own favoruite Inspiral Carpets song. It is simple lyrically with great organ and great drums. Add a dance best and bingo, it’s the greatest dance record ever made. Amongst the rarities are two more covers, their version of Soft Cell’s 'Tainted Love' and a remix of their cover of Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid' which even Ozzy wouldn't even recognize. The disc is finished off with two unreleased gems, 'Iron' and 'You've Got What It Takes'. 'Iron' doesn't sound like the band at all, until Tom's vocal kicks in. Musically it's a tribute to heavy rock. You've Got What It Takes' has a more experimental sound. It works well, but has a dubbed tone If you have never seen an Inspiral carpets video, they are fun and the DVD video is also worth watching. This whole box set is a great trip down memory lane. Check out www.inspiralcarpets.com for more information.

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Interview with Tom Hingley (2003)
Inspiral Carpets - Interview with Tom Hingley
One of the most famous of all the Madchester groups , the Inspiral Carpets have recently reformed and have a new box set out and have just toured. Frontman Tom Hingley talks to Anthony Strutt about the group's history

live reviews

Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, 24/3/2013
With their original front man Stephen Holt back with them after an absence of twenty four years, Dave Goodwin watches the Inspiral Carpets play a frenzied show at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham
Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, 10/3/2007
Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, 5/12/2003
Brixton Academy, London, 4/4/2003

digital downloads



Inspiral Carpets (2014)
Exuberant comeback album from the Inspiral Carpets, which finds the group reunited with their original vocalist Stephen Holt
You're So Good For Me/Head For the Sun (2012)

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