Posts Tagged ‘Britpop’

music

Menswear’s Nuisance album finally goes platinum – so here’s why you should give it another listen

By Stefano on November 22nd, 2012

They were written off as the Boyzone of Britpop – a band whose image and not music gave them a spot on Top Of The Pops even before their debut single had troubled the charts.

However there was always more to Menswear than their angular cheekbones and fancy threads. And I am not the only person who thinks so. For seventeen long years after its 1995 release the band’s debut album Nuisance has finally gone platinum. This of course begs the question who has actually been buying it in recent years. People with taste that’s who for Nuisance is actually a cracking good listen. I guess that a lot of kids have bought the album unaware of the band’s awkward history and they are hearing not just echoes of hype, but some rather good tunes. Here Sean Hannam explains why you should give Nuisance another listen.

They were indie’s ultimate pin-ups – NME darlings who wrote great pop-punk songs, enjoyed the druggy delights of London nightlife, shagged groupies senseless and then imploded in dramatic style. No, not The Libertines, you fools, Menswear. And they really couldn’t have picked a more appropriate name for their debut album than Nuisance.

Yep, back in the mid ’90s, when Pete Doherty was still a record company marketing man’s (crack)pipe dream, these youthful Britpop socialites had it all – good looks, massive hype and, unlike The Libertines, fantastic tunes. Menswear appeared on Top of The Pops performing I’ll Manage Somehow before they had even released a single and signed a record contract after only five gigs.

Their debut album, 1995′s Nuisance serves as a great reminder of the heady days when freaky Japanese girls would visit Camden pub The Good Mixer in the hope of getting a glimpse of floppy-haired Menswear frontman Johnny Dean and his razor-sharp cheekbones. From the guitar and Hammond mod stomp of 125 West Third Street to the pounding piano and blaring horns of Stardust – rumoured to be a dig at Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie (“He’s a superficial fucker,”) – Nuisance is a fantastically cocky Britpop classic that has more hooks than a second hand clothes stall on Camden market.

Check out The One. If Pete Doherty didn’t nick that sound and that tune for a track or two on the first Libertines album, then my name is not Carl Barat.

Daydreamer, the first song the band ever wrote, is awesome – a menacing, robotic New Wave stutter that sounds more like Wire than Elastica ever did. PopJunkie’s favourite however is the lovely summery ballad Being Brave, which ushers in warm evenings with its sweeping strings and epic, sing-a-long chorus. We’re also partial to the groovy Monkees sound-a-like Sleeping In, which is basically Last Train To Clarksville diverted via the Northern Line, and the Blur-like Little Miss Pinpoint Eyes – a cautionary tale of a posh bird from Hampstead who ends up strung-out on heroin and disco tunes. It really deserves to sell for more than the pitiful £2 or so you can get it for now.

After Nuisance, Menswear returned with a new single, the Beach Boys influenced We Love You, but nobody seemed to care – all except those freaky Japanese girls, that is. The band’s second album, the Japanese-only release, Hey Tiempo, was a massive success in the Far East. Shortly afterwards, the group disbanded. But they left them this to remember them by. So put your prejudices aside for 40 minutes and give it a spin. Who knows you might fall in love with it.

Annoyingly Nuisance isn’t on Spotify, but the single Being Brave is along with some cracking covers versions – The Zombies and Public Image. Enjoy.



Accessories, features, music

Is Baggy/Madchester the next big thing in men’s fashion?

By Stefano on September 12th, 2011

The other day The Guardian’s music/fashion correspondent Alexis Petridis wrote about how men’s fashion has suddenly become massively influenced by one year, 1988 and specifically the time in which 80s fashions (think denim shirts, girlie pumps), collided with the 1950s (think quiffs, Levis 501s, Rayban Wayfarers etc).

This odd combination occurred for a number of serendipitous reasons. Firstly big brands – Levi’s, Southern Comfort among others – began to use 50s imagery and music for their ad camapigns. Secondly a nation of indie kids has become obsessed with Morrissey and in turn with his obsession with James Dean. Suddenly 50s fashions were coming at you from all angles.

So if 1988 is the current apex of cool, where is men’s fashion likely to go next? We have already seen Urban Outfitter’s rather lamentable attempts to hype ‘grunge fashion’ (in some ways that’s an oxymoron) with its Cobain label. But by shifting on to the early 90s men’s fashion would be bypassing one of its most fun, creative and populist periods. I refer of course to Baggy.

For the uninitiated, you are either too young or from North American, Baggy was one of those brief periods in British history (see also late 60s and mid 70s) where the nation’s young let it all hang out. This meant taking copious amounts of a new drug – ecstasy – and listening to oddly psychedelic music – The Stone Roses. The difference this time (compared with the 60s) was that Baggy was dance music-oriented with the dominant soundtrack, in clubs at least, the emerging Acid House sound from Manchester, via Chicago. So a killer combination of dancing and drugs predictably wreaked havoc with the nation’s trouser’s width. The 80s had been largely about skinny jeans morphing into easy fit vintage Levi’s as the decade wore on. Suddenly everyone was wearing Flares.

It wasn’t just trousers either. Baggy ought also to be remembered as the first time the hooded top became a high street fashion staple. Baggy also gave us dayglo sweat shirts, later appropriated by the nu rave crew, as well as Paisley and pattern shirts – which to be fair had been bubbling under for much of the 80s – huge Tees and some fantastic headgear.

Drab old Britain was suddenly a riot of colour and its young cared less about perfecting their quiffs and posing in their vintage shades and more about getting off their tits in fields in Berkshire.

Sadly Baggy didn’t last too long. Internal disagreements (and spiraling drug consumption) tore The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays apart. And as for the Baggy Beatles – the La’s – lead singer Lee Mavers decided that the world only really deserved one album of his genius songs and he went AWOL.

By the time Baggy hit the South (it was mainly a northern thing) the bands were on their way out and the clothes had hit the local charity store. For a few months the UK flirted with some horrendous grunge fashions before Blur, Pulp and Britpop smartened everyone up (a little).

So, Baggy is sure to be revived sooner or later, so now might be as good a time as any to comb your local Oxfam for a nice hooded top with mildly psychedelic patterns on the front. Flares will hopefully be optional this time round.




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