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Peter Adams and Matt Pooler - Britpop

  by Fiona Hutchings

published: 21 / 6 / 2022

Peter Adams and Matt Pooler - Britpop


Despite there already being a mass of books on Britpop, Fiona Hutchings finds the latest book in Sonicbond Publishing's 'Decades' series to be compulsory reading.

We have a grasp of the Sonicbond way of doing things at this point, I think. The publishing house takes you track by track through the whole career of a band (Queen, for example) or a cultural icon (James Bond). Sometimes a year gets the in-depth treatment (1970) and sometimes an entire decade. It’s this last offering Messers Adam and Pooler have taken to explore the subject of Britpop and the 90’s. Now if you’re already protesting that Britpop didn’t exist in 1990 (depends on your perspective) and was totally dead by 1999/the new Millennium - fear not! They’ve got you covered. If you think the market for books about and by Britpop and Britpoppers is already over saturated, I think I know what you mean. If you fear another couple hundred pages of discography data you can check your collection against but not really enjoy as such. I hear you. For context, I am the same age as the authors. It’s a weird point of pride (or at least trying to somehow insert myself into history) that I turned sixteen in the same week Oasis and Blur made 'The Six O’Clock News' in the UK battling for the number one slot. I know, battles for number one seem so very retro in 2022. My point is Britpop was a big part of my teenage kicks. It is a subject I have been having opinions about since 1993, and so I was either going to love or hate this book. Reader, I loved it. I made audible but indistinct happy noises (so I am told) scanning the contents alone. Adam and Pooler have split the book up into years and then within each year we have track by track breakdowns of the big albums of the year, overviews of several other important releases along with history and personal recollections generously sprinkled throughout. Here we have so much more than just Oasis and Blur. Pulp are there, of course, but so too are bands like The Boo Radleys, The Longpigs, The Lightning Seeds (finally I feel vindicated. Only taken about 25 years) and Shed Seven. The contradictions of Britpop are highlighted. For example in 1992, Morrissey by wearing a Union Jack was bottled off stage at Madstock. Five years later Liam Gallagher lays on it and under it while then wife Patsy Kensit is left in just her bra and trousers, and an iconic image is burned onto the rents of friends and foes alike. There are insights into where Britpop came from as grunge seemed to die as fast as it had lived and played. We enjoy the ride as the latest hot new things appear, confuse and delight us. Endless headlines and pictures pop into my head as a I read. From the aforementioned race for the top being covered by the BBC as proper news to the lanky bloke from my home town wiggling his arse at the King of Pop mid Brits performance and getting arrested. The writers unashamedly talk up the bands they love, acknowledge the ones they missed at the time and their own recollections add that personal, engaging touch. The strength of the Sonicbond books stands or falls on the quality of the writing. Discographies are factual and even a track by track break down can be unintentionally dry. There is none of that here. although fact and opinion sit happily together. There is still something new to be said about the much examined, lauded and derided decade that was the 90’s and the music it produced. For example, I am the resident Madness nut(ty girl) - self appointed granted - and I didn’t know Morrissey's 'You’re The One For Me Fatty' was an in-joke between the controversial muso and Chas Smash of Madness. I am interested too in what the Boo Radleys did before and after they woke themselves, me and the rest of the country up multiple times a day in 1995, and more needs to be written about The Lightning Seeds just in general. These books are written by music nerds for music nerds. The amount of fact checking and referencing needed to provide all the biographical information for all these artists and albums is testament to that. But so too is the unabashed fandom that comes with it, writing about music and a time that you loved and that still matters to you. This 'Britpop' explored far beyond the top three bands that always get talked about under that umbrella. Instead the net is cast far and wide to produce a comprehensively factual and engagingly personal inventory of the decade that was the 90’s and the thing that was Britpop.

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