I have a theory that it takes a decade or two before we can properly appreciate the popular culture from an earlier decade. Much of what we love about the 60s, from The Beatles to Peter Blake, was hideously unfashionable in the 70s and didn’t really return to the mainstream until the mid 90s. Similarly the shoulder pads and wonky keyboard bands of the 80s were held in high disdain for decades and it wasn’t until the noughties that we remembered how much fun some elements of that decade’s music were.
And now it has to be the 90s to turn to be re-assessed. Sure the first ripples of a 90s revival are already starting to appear. Watching Danny Boyle’s amazing Olympics opening ceremony I was struck by how much of it made me think of the optimism and colour of the early Blair years. Then a couple of weeks later I was off to see the climax of the games – a gig by the band who eventually won the Brit Pop war – Blur. In fashion too the heritage brands that had such a resurgence in the 90s are back and selling well.
Then when Chris Gentry of Menswear paraded his fake platinum disc for the band’s Nuisance album, it spawned a host of features about the band including this semi serious piece in The Guardian.
The first books about the 90s are also on the horizon. Alwyn Tuner wrote a very fine mini ebook about the 1992 election and its ramifications for politics and he will have an apparently more definitive tome on the 90s available very shortly. There will also be an interesting examination of London in the 90s soon which looks among other things at the art school roots of Brit Pop and the way in which Hoxton was transformed from a seedy east London no go zone to the home of the main movers in Brit Art.
Musically too there are the first rumblings of a 90s revival with Jake Bugg doing a very impressive impersonation of The La’s on his debut album and the growth of 60s obsessed psych bands, many of whom would have been very at home at the fringes of Brit Pop.
So now seems as good a time as any to take a look back over some of the 90s most neglected bands. I asked on Facebook and Twitter send in their nominations and ended up with about 50 bands to choose from.
There are so many that could have made the list from gothic popsters Jack through to harmony drenched power pop of Silver Sun. Maybe we ‘ll look back at them another time.
For now though here are ten, plus a whole load more on the Spotify list below.
Who have we missed? Tell us in the comments…
10 Five Thirty
At the turn of the decade Five Thirty's take on Jam style power pop, albeit with a lot of twists and turns, was unique. Some blistering live performances and an exhilarating single, Air Conditioned Nightmare, made them one of London's hottest acts for a few brief months. An album, Bed, followed soon after, but the big break never came and they split in 1994. There's no Five Thirty on Spotify, but some great videos on YouTube.