Decades in Music; Part 8 – The 90s: “A decade of wonderfully varied, innovative music.” Guest blog post by @weloveallthat

For me the 1990s were both personally and musically a decade of change.

Personally because I finished my university studies in the North of the country and returned to “the big black smoke” in 1990 and was subsequently to spend the next ten years in three different countries.

Musically because the decade was kick-started by landing my first full time job in a now-deceased London high street “music” chain (I called it a record shop, but by the time I handed in my notice the vinyl records had been sold off – a mixed blessing, I was sad to see the premature retirement of my favourite format from the racks but delighted to be able to purchase so much vinyl at discount prices) where I was introduced to a wider world of sounds by my colleagues, one somewhat wider than my favoured niche of Peel-favoured guitar bands (even HE got tired of the white indie lads playing guitars dominating the Festive Fifty, if you’ll recall) and eighties synthpop.

90sBRather than taking the preferred option of modern times and simply googling the hits and trends of the decade in question, I thought I’d keep the cheat-sheet action to a minimum and exercise the ol’ grey matter as to my musical memories of the 1990s. So here goes.

Just as any decade is usually influenced by the tail-end of the previous one, the most notable early musical movement of the 1990s was “baggy”, so-dubbed because of the loose-fitting clobber sported by Mancunians and other northern English urchins so as not to feel “restricted” by tighter vestments while under the influence of psychotropic substances. Baggy, as any fool knows, grew out of the Madchester musical mode where funky dance beats were appropriated into that indie guitar sound much loved by night-time Radio One listeners like yours truly.

Happy Mondays were the original flag-wavers for this musical microcosm (I imagine their “Madchester EP” with the Kirsty MacColl featuring anthem Hallelujah was the origin of this name) and like-minded substance (and sartorial taste) abusers such as The Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets. Not since the early days of Sarah Records had bowlcuts been so in vogue. My friends and I lapped it up, it has to be said. More electronic acts like 808 State and A Guy Called Gerald climbed aboard and soon the dance-meets-indie collision reached its logical conclusion and star remixers were also given their dream tickets to chartdom. Andrew Weatherall, whose DJ sets were as much influenced by Throbbing Gristle and Krautrock as your “bangin’ 12” white labels” gave a new lease of life to Primal Scream’s sound in the still-epic-now Screamadelica, Paul “Oakey” Oakenfold put a slicker production sound to the Mondays’ loping beats for their third album “Pills n’ Thrills n’ Bellyaches” and Terry Farley helped remix “Groovy Train” for Peel’s Scouse stalwarts The Farm. All three platter-spinners had been part of the late 80s Balearic Beats phenomenon, where anything from a Thrashing Doves b-side to a Chris Rea instrumental held court with Italo house or Belgian New Beat or Rondo Veneziano or whatever took the DJ’s fancy.

This struck the tone for a lot of the best UK music of the 90s, mixing previously discordant styles or sometimes looking back to sounds of the past once deemed “uncool” and now revived. Additionally, the “hardcore” edge of dance music was no longer seen as the nemesis of alternative rock music (as disco and punk were seen in the 70s) but as part of one big love-in, in part aided and abetted by easier access to drugs like the ubiquitous ecstasy or “E”. Without googling to check I forget if the “Second Summer of Love” was at the end of the 80s or the 90s but it became such a mainstream event that decidedly un-indie strummers Danny Wilson wrote a song about it. Mancunian record shops like 808 State affiliated Eastern Bloc imported a lot of techno from Detroit, house from Chicago and Italo house from Milan and this seeped into the collections of local musicians. The purists in the home towns of these singles may have scorned such inter-marrying but the kids in Manchester (and soon everywhere else) loved it.

Earlier non-hits by James and others got a remix and went into the charts and into our hearts. The Funky Drummer and Ashley’s Roachclip beats were milked to saturation point (I’ll leave the googling to you lot) while another “seminal” breakbeat – The Amen Break – was being sped up for drum ‘n’ bass, jungle, breakbeat and whatever. Roni Size grabbed a snatch of Everything But The Girl for his “Brown Paper Bag”, 4 Hero told Mr Kirk that his son was dead, Silver Bullet sampled Robocop and brought forth the guillotine and PJ and Smiley told London to Shut Up and Dance. The Shamen bounced back from the death of one of their founder members and notched up a “cheeky” number one the told the country that Es were “good”, with visionary Savile conspiracist Jerry Sadowitz in the video. Did I mention the Prodigy recycling an old 70s Public Information Film for their debut hit Charly? Charly the cat and Charlie the snortable clubber’s friend. Pun’s not dead!!

Just as dance acts recycled samples from 70s acts and recontextualized them, a few artists were exhuming 60s and 70s styles for their own successful futures. A personal favourite single from 1990 was the “Crosstown Traffic” Hendrix-sampling “I’m Ready” by Caveman, possibly inspired by a Wrangler ad some months earlier… while (allegedly) a lorry load of cut-price Big Star albums arriving at a Glasgow record shop helped spark the wonderful Teenage Fanclub, who also helped turn adolescent ears on to The Byrds and Neil Young. I do hope that story is true. Acid Jazz took the 60s beatnik chic sound and look and sort-of married it to the vogue of the day. Galliano, Courdroy, Brand New Heavies, Young Disciples and the Talkin’ Loud label produced some half-decent tunes appealing to the perennial mod “head” music buyer and concert goer, and the Brixton Fridge provided some overlap between this “scene” and the Soul II Soul “Funky Dread” sound system. Did I mention Lenny Kravitz being a human mash-up of Marley, Hendrix and Lennon at least ten years before mash-ups were a thing? I suppose I have now.

One more act that seemed to sum up the 90s mix-it-up ethic that was actually formed in 1990 was Stereolab, who over the decade melded motorik Krautrock beats to seemingly disparate components as bossa nova and singing partially in French about leftwing politics.

It’s hard to talk about the 1990s in strictly chronological order as the whole decade flits back and forth in influence. 90s hip-hop mustn’t be overlooked, and a golden age of alternately conscious politically aware rappers alternated with a wave of affable MCs collectively known as the Native Tongues posse (De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah and Sarf London lass Monie Love) appeared at the close of the previous decade and bloomed in the early 1990s, a Basement Boys remix of “Can I Kick It?” which sampled Lou Reed and Ian Dury being a particular highlight. It’s hard to imagine rap without an overdose of swearing and graphic sexism but apart from the likes of Q-Tip leaving his “jimmy hats” in El Segundo and Posdunos’s “Buddy”, macho posturing was refreshingly absent from these guys’ outputs.

Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy produced a masterpiece in 1992’s “Hiphoprisy is the Greatest Luxury” LP and then failed to record a follow-up, probably realising they could never top it. The same year Philly combo The Goats released “Tricks of the Shade” that suggested their fellow Americans should “Burn The (Fuckin’) Flag” because they didn’t “mind the people but the government’s a drag”. Doubt that made the White House walkman. Even those on the other side of the English Channel were recording slick hip hop in their own native tongues (pun intended), such as MC Solaar (released here on Talkin’ Loud) and Soon E MC (not released here at all, I fear). Public Enemy released “Apocalypse ’91 The Empire Strikes Black” in… er… 1991 and Beastie Boys stupendous “Check Your Head” came out in 1990. South Londoners Stereo MCs released their personal commercial apogee in the “Connected” album in 1992… I once sold a record to “The Head” – the bald one -, don’tcha know. They’re probably all bald by now, actually.

Björk’s “Debut” album came out in 1992, like so many other marvellous LPs. I’d always been fond of The Sugarcubes since buying “Birthday” in 86 or whenever it was. When I heard “Debut” (which wasn’t ACTUALLY her solo debut as she’d recorded another album when she was a child in Iceland) I fell in love with it and actually bought it THREE TIMES, I then proceeded to religiously snap up all the remixes she released (she had a bit of a thing for remixes, but a good thing). Maybe her eclectic taste mirrors my own or maybe I was just sucked in by that puffin-eating story.

1991 will probably be best remembered for a fantastic landmark album that despite nodding to the past was a taste of the immediate future. I am of course referring to Saint Etienne’s Foxbase Alpha, a sampladelic (word made up by Deee-Lite, whose Groove Is In The Heart / What Is Love 12” is one of my personal favourite double-header 12”s ever) sashay across the capital, later updated decades later in Richard X’s “Foxbase Beta” remix album. How suitable that in the era of looking back in chime with the present that its lead single be a Balearic revision of a Neil Young ballad, or that its follow-up be a danceable cover of The Field Mice.

Did I mention Chimes? Like Orbital’s Chime? Or that Sheffield sound of bleeps birthed by Warp Records such as LFO’s eponymous hit, Tricky Disco, Sweet Exorcist et al? Nightmares on Wax and Aphex Twin also released some classics on the label and off it in the early 90s.

The aforementioned Saint Etienne also namechecked The World of Twist (after supporting them) on their first album and WoT’s one and only album “Quality Street” is well worth checking out. One of the tracks is a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “She’s a Rainbow”, following in the footsteps of The Soupdragons’ 90s indie-disco staple (yeah I know it’s from 89) “I’m Free” and Primal Scream’s (or more than likely Andrew Weatherall’s) appropriation of the “Sympathy For The Devil” in Loaded. One Gallagher brother was so impressed with World of Twist that Oasis were nearly named Sons of the Stage, the band’s second single. Saint Etienne album number two So Tough also namechecked Prince B from PM Dawn and The KLF (more on the latter later). And Bruce Forsyth. Tiger Bay completed a trilogy of faultless albums from Saint Etienne, featuring “troubled” guest vocalist Shara Nelson, voice of Massive Attack’s first two hits, along side Sarah “Crackers” Cracknell.

Massive Attack! Portishead! Tricky! The three pronged trip-hop triumvirate of the Bristol scene. Whether it was Isaac Hayes or Lalo Schifrin samples, filmic female vocals, Horace Andy’s dulcet tones or stoned rap phrasing with a Brizzle lilt, these three blazed a trail for a slew of coffee table compilations they no doubt all despised. Yet there is no doubting the sheer quality of these three debut albums (with a degree of overlap between them) that appeared between 1991 and 1995.

Can you believe I’ve got so far and still haven’t mentioned grunge or Britpop? Okay, I suppose the time is now. Although we did of course have our own home-grown noise movement in the Scene That Celebrates Itself, the late 80s effects pedal drenched shoegazing scene that spilled over into the 90s with Ride’s Going Blank Again, Slowdive’s entire back catalogue, and of course My Bloody Valentine’s “Glider” EP complete with dancefloor-friendly Weatherall remix, as well as ensuing full-lengther “Loveless”. All we need now is a Chapterhouse reunion and all these bands will have reformed. Were Lush shoegazers? Of sorts. The Pale Saints? Probably. All good, all very good.

Another early 90s album worthy of mention was A House’s “I Am The Greatest”. A slightly warped and cynical take on modern life that perfectly balanced vitriol and humour. Fantastically under-appreciated and more than likely out of print.

The KLF’s seemingly seamless transition from underground samplers to bona-fide international textbook popstars (and yes, they wrote the book) was another purely 90s phenomenon. Within four years they had gone from virtual bankruptcy to recording with Tammy Wynette and appearing on the Brits with Extreme Noise Terror, deleting their back catalogue and burning a million pounds on a remote island. They also got me to buy an MC5 album after hearing the intro to “What Time Is Love?”, yet another example of recontextualising the past in the 1990s.

Grunge music seemed to emerge from nowhere, although Kurt Cobain admitted that he had only been ripping off Pixies and others lumped into the scene like “slackers” Dinosaur Jr and Mudhoney and even Soundgarden had been in existence since 1984 in some incarnation or other. Sonic Youth had formed in 1981. The other big grunge band – Pearl Jam – did release their first album in 1990, confusingly named “Ten”.

Now as James called their fourth (1992) album “Seven”, and a Beatles album released YEARS after the band had split up (even after half the band had DIED ffs) was called “One” so I can only assume this was the start of a trend.

Nirvana’s “Nevermind” was the only album in our record shop that EVERYBODY liked. The hair-metal worshipping manager with a penchant for Michael Bolton, the teenage pop fan with braces, the avant garde John Martyn aficionado, the cheery Rastafarian, the spaced-out Ozric Tentacles fanboy, the clued-up apprentice Balearic DJ, the black-clad post-punk relic, the Lenny Kravitz apologist and my good self could all be found reaching for the CD with the submerged baby and the dollar bill. Was it too heavy for in-store Saturday play? As we were a mainstream high street chain it probably would have been. But it was TOP FIVE IN THE CHARTS. It was noisy, rough and rowdy, but also somehow melodic. Years of overplaying would mean that Smells Like Teen Spirit would start to grate, but one hell of a landmark album to witness the launch of. “In Utero” was a worthy follow-up as well, and I was quick to snare a clear vinyl copy at HMV.

Would Dinosaur Jr. have got onto Warner Brothers roster without Nevermind? Maybe not. They featured on the video “1991: The Year Punk Broke”, a title with rather un-American wry humour. The Lemonheads also benefitted from association with the grunge scene, as almost anyone with a checked shirt (over there they called them “plaid”) and a guitar was offered a major label record contract. Later (possibly under the influence of illegal substances) sensitive Evan Dando would allegedly share a mattress with Mrs K. Cobain (Courtney Love to lawyers) but I really can’t recall weather it was Kurt or Evan who first took to the stage in a dress. “It’s A Shame About Ray” was (and is) a fantastic album although rather on the short side even with the Mrs. Robinson cover tacked on the end.

Additionally Boston’s own “Kim Gordon with issues” – the wonderful Juliana Hatfield – released a few choice albums during this decade on the back of this grunge thing, quite possibly aided her association with Mr. Dando, including “Become Who You Are” as The Juliana Hatfield Three. They’ve just released a second album called Whatever, My Love AND YOU SHOULD ALL GO AND BUY IT. She didn’t really have a sister by the way, the song’s about her brother’s girlfriend.

Oh, and in the 90s the Smashing Pumpkins were still good too. And do Rage Against The Machine count as grunge? That first album with the photo of Buddhist monk on fire on the cover was ace as well. Especially when Bruno Brookes played the sweary bits on the Top 40. Soul Asylum and Nickelback were still rubbish though, although I did buy a discounted CD single of Runaway Train out of a bargain bin.

But this mainstream success of previously “alternative” music posed a question shortly to be blasted into smithereens of irrelevance. Could a band really be considered alternative while recording on a major record label making millions of dollars for “the man”? Could “alternative” musicians really be credibly alternative or “independent” if they were promoting branded clothing or footwear made by some huge corporation, given for free but with strings (sometimes laces) attached? Could “alternative” musicians be seen rubbing shoulders with politicians?

I could at this juncture add a paragraph extolling the merchandising finesse of Inspiral Carpets, Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine and another band of that ilk (the Senseless Things, perhaps? Their Jamie-Hewlett-later-of-Gorillaz designed sleeve art was always impressive) or praise for the cultural references of Thundersley Invacar celebrators Collapsed Lung (possibly not as rich a tapestry of cultural references as Carter USM and almost microscopic when compared to that of Half Man Half Biscuit who actually released FIVE albums during the 90s despite still being largely thought of as an 80s indie band). However, virtual column inches do not permit such luxury.

Anyway, on to Britpop.

According to legend, Britpop was invented as a counterpoint to the American grunge domination of post-Nevermind alterno-dom. I do have the very copy of Select magazine where St. Etienne, Denim, The Auteurs, Pulp and Suede were promoted as the patriotic antidote to your Vedders and Cobains and were there to wrestle your ears from the transatlantic feedback. Initially what linked these bands together was a vague harking back to a nostalgic England of yore, a sort of 1970s romantic view of the working class misery and much loved discontinued lines of sweets etc.

Later Auteurs frontman Luke Haines would pen a book called “Britpop – My Part In Its Downfall” (which I’m ashamed to say I’ve not yet read), Denim (fronted by Laurence from Felt) would subsequently see their viable shot at fame scuppered by the death of Princess Diana (the song in question was called “Summer Smash”), Suede would be a visible part of Britpop despite hating it all and Pulp would become huge stadium filling superstars. Sleeper, Elastica (paramour of both Brett from Suede and Damon from Blur), Catatonia, Kenickie, Echobelly, Shampoo and others would also be lumped in with the crowd.

But by the time Britpop “broke”, I had left the country. I had abandoned my native land for the land of the rising sun and the ubiquitous vending machine. I had landed a teaching job in Japan, and so my vision of musical events played out rather differently.

Shortly after arriving in Japan in early April 1994, I spotted an abandoned television in the street. Having been reliably informed that the locals preferred to junk their old objects for new rather than repair stuff (I thought this was rather odd, unaware that this would be the norm in the West in another ten years), I grabbed this rather hefty TV and hauled it up to my tatami-matted flat, where I discovered why the TV had been thrown out.

Only a three inch horizontal sliver was visible when the set was turned on, although the sound worked perfectly. But as it hadn’t cost me anything, I kept it. That evening I noticed the news programme seemed to be playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and I could see Cobain’s knees poking out of his ripped jeans on the horizontal bit. “Great!” I thought “Nirvana on the news! They must be coming here on tour!” The next day I bought copies of CROSSBEAT (all capitals) and rockin’on (all lowercase) and tried to decipher the katakana to see when Nirvana were coming to Osaka. When I met a Canadian teacher later that day he told me the news. I guess the Steve Martin film got it wrong. Dead men DO wear plaid.

Grunge was now dead and that cheeky Britpop thing was there to steal its crown.

In Japan we only got the upside of Britpop, and I think Blur’s “Girls and Boys” kicked it off. I remember watching the video playing in a CD rental shop feeling slightly surprised. Not the type of video I’d imagine from the band behind “For Tomorrow”, who I’d already seen live a couple of times… but fair play to them nonetheless. Was this their Mondays and Roses on TOTP moment? “Live Forever” was the Oasis radio hit out there. I bought both albums, both had extra tracks to boot. Also it was fun to be recognised for being British as opposed to everyone thinking you were American. American culture had quite a hold over Japan, although oddly not so much in the pop charts which are a mix of parochial and quirky. But more on that later.

Britpop nights started to appear at night clubs. Familiar faces from home started to appear on the magazines. Supergrass, Radiohead, Primal Scream and even The Beatles were added to the Japanese Britpop roll-call… not really surprising as some of those Beatles songs sounded not unlike Oasis. Even lesser known Britpop fodder like Whiteout, Orange Deluxe and Thurman had features in the Japanese music press, who were eagerly scouting for the next big thing. In Japan’s case the next big thing was Shampoo, and Trouble was a ubiquitous, unavoidable big-in-Japan hit. I think someone thought they’d found the 90s Strawberry Switchblade (whose style can still be seen in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park) or something. I didn’t really discover much of the insidious co-opting of Britpop by Tony Blair et al until returning to Europe mid-95, an episode best described by Pulp’s b-side “Cocaine Socialism”, a track that almost outshines their best work – lyrically at least.

Britpop’s effortless co-existence with media, advertising and party politics probably spelled the death knell of the alternative indie spirit lampooned by Rik Mayall in The Young Ones, the Meat-Is-Murder / Save-The-Whale / Free-Nelson-Mandela / Wimmin-Are-Angry brigade so visible in further education in the 1980s and so invisible now. The one that means that massive festivals are sponsored by banks or phone companies rather than promoting Greenpeace and CND. Ethics? What ethics? It was one big ad campaign for Cool Britannia and for a while it worked. But when the alternative becomes mainstream it does become a little tiresome.

Japanese radio played a variety of songs I loved in the’94-’95 period I was there… An acoustic version of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” (predating “Nouvelle Vague” and that car ad by some time) by an Aussie band called Frente!, The first Cardigans album “Emmerdale” (which wasn’t originally released in the UK), I bought it the day after I heard it, and a LOT of Japanese music, mainly from the Shibuya-kei club genre which was influenced as much by bossa nova and American soul as it was by The Sound of Young Scotland and the él records back catalogue. I was VERY surprised to see three different él records compilations sittling in a rather small selection of western CDs at one CD rental shop of which I was sadly not a card-carrying member.

The Japanese charts also differed greatly from ours as they were dominated by local acts, often idol singers or boy bands like SMAP who, oddly for a boy band 20 years on, are still recording today. Not sure whether this was before the Take That resurrection or after. Additionally old songs would sometimes re-enter the charts if they were used in TV shows or adverts, like Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita”. Also, a three-inch CD in a sort of mini version of the old skool US CD longbox was the leading “single” format back in the mid 90s. Today it’s probably some kind of chip or something.

Japanese records shops often sold three versions of the same CD album, the expensive Japanese version, usually with lyrics translated and extra tracks, and cheaper US and UK or Euro imports. All genres could be found, and Tower, Virgin and HMV were all to be found as well as various Japanese record stores like Wave that seemed to specialise more in vinyl. As my shop had just ditched the vinyl I was fascinated that there was a specialist vinyl market, special releases on vinyl that differed to the CD and that in Japan it had been the pre-recorded cassette that had been sacrificed, although the blank tape was very much alive. It really was like visiting the future.

A like-minded Japanese student of mine had introduced me to the Shibuya-kei scene (he, like me was fond of Saint Etienne and most of the artists I’ve mentioned so far. He also oddly possessed a Gazza 12” single, but that’s another story), whose artists of note featured Pizzicato Five (who had minor western hits with Twiggy Twiggy and Happy Sad), Kahimi Karie (who got Momus to pen various albums’ worth of songs for her), Cornelius (who you really should have heard of by now) and his former Flipper’s Guitar partner Kenji Ozawa. Both artists had debut solo albums out when I was there, the latter album featured a catchy duet called “Boogie Back” which featured Scharr Dara Parr, the Japanese rappers featured on De La Soul Is Dead. Occasionally Scharr Dara Parr abbreviate their name to SDP, but to avoid any confusion with Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, the late Jeremy Thorpe and the other bloke I’ve chosen not to abbreviate.

These days Cornelius produces much more experimental music, as does DJ Takemura (or Nobukazu Takemura as he’s known now) who had an outfit called Spiritual Vibes fronted by a charming young lady called Kiku who I was lucky enough to see live. I also saw a wild all girl quartet called Super Junky Monkey who I could only describe as a female Japanese Red Hot Chilli Peppers but far better and madder. The album I heard was called “Screw Up” if you’re interested. DJ Krush was one of the more internationally celebrated Japanese artists I also got into out there, and managed to miss his show (thankfully I didn’t have tickets) by being completely unable to locate the venue once somewhere in the vicinity (no Google Maps or mobiles back then).

Another great source of music on demand (this was pre-YouTube and pre-Spotify, remember) was the Video Jukebox, often found in bars. My selection was always either something by trf (probably EZ-DO DANCE), Beastie Boys “Sabotage”, Pizzicato Five “The Night Is Still Young”, Beck “Loser”, Kahimi Karie “Elastic Girl”, Cornelius “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (not a Stones cover), Björk “Army of Me”, Nokko “Ningyo” and Shampoo “Trouble”. Sometimes ALL of them if I had enough money or had drunk enough beer.

Following a massive earthquake and the visit of the future mother of my child about six months later, I left Japan to live closer to the aforementioned lady (many years before conception was even considered) in the Spanish capital, from where I am typing this.

On arrival in Madrid I was able to immerse myself in the local alternative music scene with the help of amenable national radio station RNE Radio Tres. Los Planetas (Granada based indie guitar stuff with occasionally impenetrable vocals) was just one discovery, along with Los Fresones Rebeldes, TCR, Nosoträsh (a very Spanish triumvirate of tweepoppers), Le Mans and La Buena Vida (beautifully crafted songs with female vocals which fall into the “Donosti Sound” genre due to their origins in San Sebastián) to name but a few 90s local discoveries. Additionally, arriving here during the Britpop explosion that seemed to have made smaller inroads into mainstream music-buyers’ collective consciousness I was in the enviable position to be able to see the likes of Tricky and Pulp in relatively small venues in Madrid while they were selling out stadiums in the UK.

Beck’s “Odelay” and “Midnight Vultures” were two more 1990s albums I was glad to get my hands on, while I was mightily cheered to find a CD single with a Cornelius remix of one of the tracks from the latter LP on there.

Cornelius also got to try his hand at a remix for Blur of “Tender” (an extra track on the Japanese version of the “13” album, a b-side for everyone else). Both 13 and it’s predecessor “Blur” were solid albums following the descent into self-parody of post-“Parklife” album “The Great Escape”. However the eponymous album’s “Song 2” does suffer from the same grating over-familiarity as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” these days. I blame those sports clips.

Despite the best efforts of Radio Tres, these years between my departure from Japan and the arrival of the internet were semi-wilderness years for me, and I’d often find it easier to read about an artist than actually hear the music in question. But still artists did come over, albeit most in the same week of October. I saw The Cardigans (four albums later and they were actually famous enough to come over!), Björk, Blur, Beck, Supergrass, Everything But The Girl and an APPALLING gig by The Smashing Pumpkins where they played all the slow songs too fast and the fast ones too slow. The stadium was later burnt to the ground although given this happened a few years later I doubt it was the handiwork of another disgruntled punter.

To conclude, it has to be said that the early 1990s did produce such an ENORMOUS amount of wonderfully varied and innovative music that I had almost forgotten that it was also the decade that spawned “Everything I Do, I Do It For You”, “Love Is All Around” and “My Heart Will Go On”.

But not quite.


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