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…
3 David Devant and His Spirit Wife
Back in the late 90s a highlight of the Devant's stage show featured a man grating carrot on another bloke's head - which in my book just about sums the band up, anarchic, innovative, theatrical and utterly bonkers. Based around the very considerable songwriting talents of lead singer The Vessel DDAHSW produced a trio of albums, two of which are quite the equal of anything else recorded in the 90s. They sounded like no one else too. Think pre-Space Oddity Bowie (my fave era for Mr Jones) hanging out with early Roxy and add a dash of Syd's Floyd and you are there. The songs were astonishingly good. In a Parallel Universe This is for real, One thing after another and Pimlico would have been more than enough to clinch The Vessel a Novello or two. Tragically the band's incredible debut hasn't troubled Spotify, but its almost as good follow up Shiney On The Inside is there as are their not quite so impressive third album and a fun collection of rarities.