Friday, 5 February 2016
Having posted songs by Bjork and Sabres Of Paradise in the last few days, both from 1993, it struck me that that year looks like an interesting one, a really good one. I kind of took it for granted at the time. Looking at John Peel's Festive 50 and the NME's end of year list as a couple of starting points there's a lot of variety and several different scenes going on. There's a Jon Savage compilation album that came out a year ago- Perpetual Motion 1988-1993- which celebrates (in his view) a new kind of psychedelia characterised by indie-dance, house and rave. Savage is currently promoting his new book 1966. I don't think '93 was quite as revolutionary as '66 and it doesn't fit into Tony Wilson's 1955-1966-1977-1988 cycle either but there was a lot going on and more good music than you could shake a stick at.
Bjork's Debut was fully dancefloor informed, making the switch from skittery, post-punk indie to house seem completely smooth and obvious, engineered by Nellee Hooper's production skills (honed with Massive Attack and Soul II Soul). I've been soaking up Debut on the way to work this week- there's not a weak song on it and it's a completely alive album, full of fun and interesting, ear-catching sounds, and on half of the songs four-to-the-floor beats that keep it fresh and propelled. Andrew Weatherall put out out Sabresonic, his first fully formed album outside his production work on other group's albums. Sabres Of Paradise preceded the album with the peerless, mighty Smokebelch II 12". One Dove's Morning Dove White also came out in 1993, a Weatherall produced lost classic, a morning-after/coming-down album much loved round here and by other bloggers. Orbital's untitled 'green' album came out with Chime, Satan and Belfast as its centrepieces. Leftfield and John Lydon firebombed Los Angeles. Ultramarine's United Kingdoms drifted in and out beautifully. Underworld's dubnobasswithmyheadman was released in January 1994, but presumably worked on to perfection through '93. There are a multitude of other first rate house singles and records in '93 too- Secret Knowledge's Sugar Daddy for one, Disco Evangelists' De Niro for another, Jaydee's Plastic Dreams for one more. I'm sure other people can suggest others I've missed. Even the chartbound dance pop was properly good- Sub Sub's Ain't No Love. Maybe what was happening in retrospect was the last gasp of acid house as it had started in 1988, five years of innovation and ecstasy, just starting to peter out as dance music split into a hundred sub-groups. Portishead, Tricky and trip hop were just around the corner. Drum and bass too.
Peel's list and the NME's both have placings for the last gasps of grunge and alt-rock- Nirvana, Sugar, The Breeders, The Lemonheads, Grant Lee Buffalo, Afghan Whigs, Hole and Dinosaur Jr. The Fall have a mere ten songs in the Festive 50 and The Infotainment Scan in the NME's albums of the year. New Order came back from hiatus with Republic, not a classic album but it's got Regret on it. St Etienne's So Tough refined their sound- Avenue, You're In A Bad, Hobart Paving. Paul Weller cemented his revival with Wild Wood. Teenage Fanclub, Tindersticks and The The put out good records. PJ Harvey chucked in Rid Of Me. Suede's debut, Blur's Modern Life Is Rubbish, Boo Radleys' Giant Steps, the Manics Gold Against The Soul, The Verve's A Storm In Heaven, Elastica and Pulp are all in there, signposting what was going to happen with Britpop but those records all have some spark and imagination about them and, Blur apart, none of the retro homogeneity of what came a year or two later. Cypress Hill, The Goats and The Pharcyde made albums that showed that hip hop still had life in it too. There'll be loads more below the surface. I'm sure there are a lot of years you could re-look at and discover a similar diversity of sound, style and invention but 1993 seems to have it spades and somewhat under the radar too in being thought of one of those 'classic' years.
Some music. I don't think I've ever posted PJ Harvey before, which is pretty poor of me.
More Bjork too, cos I'm in the mood...