Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Early 90s fairly popular, fairly poltical British music


There was a strange little Interzone of Politicised Baggy/Crusty/Hip-Hop in the early 90s, quite mixed in race and gender terms. None of these bands was critically well received, all of them were fairly to very popular i.e. Chart action/TV spots! An admission; I didn't and don't like any of them. There may well be more obvious contenders I can't remember, obviously there's The Levellers (aha! that's where Folk went in the 90s, innit!) but they don't have a dance dimension. Britpop pretty comprehensively swept all this stuff away. I'm also going to skip RDF/Citizen Fish/Culture Shock for now as they were too "underground".

7 comments:

David W. Kasper said...

Sad to realise that these 'middling' bands largely came to (brief) prominence from panic at the far-right having something of a resurgence. A quite minor resurgence compared to what they've gained in recent years - from councillors in London boroughs in the early 90s, to M.E.P.s. and 'representatives' getting respectful slots on Question Time and Newsnight now.

At the centre of this was that catastrophic vortex Tony Blair, who managed to cash in on hatred of Thatcherism, while also enabling the biggest far-right revival since Enoch Powell was sacked - or (arguably) further back, since WW2.

Consider how the meaning of this ditty has been undermined in the years that followed, for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0qmfgUmvic

Matt Moore said...

"None of these bands was critically well received"

I'm not sure that's wholly true. As group they were more popular among NME (Steven Wells leading the charge but being far from alone) rather than MM. And they were all over the mags such as Select.

Listening to them now, they remind me a lot of the Beatles and Stones - only with Public Enemy and Eric B & Rakim replacing Chuck Berry. And bit crapper, unfortunately. Or rather, unable to find anything beyond a crude fusion of late-80s hip hop and indie rock (as the 60s bands were able to find paths beyond Chess Records plagarism).

Hip hop itself was in continuing rude health at this point (e.g. Wu Tang Clan), US bands were simply doing this stuff better (e.g. Rage Against The Machine) and the dance scene was innovating at warp speed. On many levels, they were left behind.

"Britpop pretty comprehensively swept all this stuff away"

Yeah, to an extent. Britpop certainly provided more comfortable listening for an audience (pre-dominantly white) with little interest in dance music. But on a material level, the scene these bands originated from and thrived in was undermined by The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. The Act, “Parklife” and “Definitely Maybe” all occurred in 1994. Triple whammy.

carl said...

Matt! Join us!
send me or s omeone an e-mail!

stu said...

"Britpop pretty comprehensively swept all this stuff away"

Maybe, or perhaps it happened the other way around: none of this stuff could actually compete with hip hop or dance music "proper" and paled in comparison. Especially since specialist radio shows and magazines were springing up to bring these non-traditional forms to our attention at the time.

Would you rather listen to these groups, or to Ice Cube, Wu-Tang, Aphex, 4 Hero, etc?

David W. Kasper said...

That Credit To The Nation one was a major dancefloor hit, I remember. But of course that may have been due to the riff. Sheep On Drugs & Fun-Da-Mental were also a big live draw. Festival favourites.

Maybe they just weren't 'event album' bands. It wasn't stuff to run out and buy on the day of release, like the ones you cite (and I did that with their most disappointing releases anyway!)

Matt Moore said...

Carl - I may just do that, ta.

David W. Kasper said...

What happened to the post below this one???