Do You Really Remember Britpop?

“Can you remember what you were doing at the height of Britpop? Perhaps you were running the country? Bands like Damon Albarn’s Blur furnished the soundtrack to the early Blair Years, ‘Cool Britannia’ and all that’.

 (Steven Smith)

blair and brown britpop or shit pop

Eh? No, except they didn’t did they?

Britpop was at its zenith between 1992-1995 (at its peak around 1995’s Oasis Vs Blur feud) all firmly within and during the Conservative years of John Major’s government and by the time Blair gained power in 1997 and attempted to co-opt the sound and cool factor for New Labour propaganda it was, as a scene pretty much on its way out and maturing into something quite different in the face of mainstream media hype and anyone who used the term ‘Britpop’ to describe their musical tastes in ’97 would have been seen as being rather naff and possibly a bit of a late coming poseur than a fan. Certainly I don’t think I ever heard anyone describe themselves as being a fan of ‘Britpop’ during that period, many favoured just the term ‘Indie’ or even ‘Pop’.

britpop fight

It’s true though that both Pulp & Blur released what I think are their best albums of that scene around that period. Blur with ‘Blur’ in ’97 and Pulp with the wonderful ‘This Is Hardcore’ in ’98 but that was a last surge of scene creativity as things seemed to come to a natural halt all round with the bands who’d been slogging away and ever changing their style since the 1980s C86 shoegazing movement, then hurriedly through both the ‘Grebo’ & ‘Baggy’ fashions just folded in the wake of the Britpop storm. Some clearly worn out after years of slog to noticed by the NME never mind getting onto Top Of The Pops long before the Britpop craze reached its peak. Others were clearly keen to shift indie on into other areas and reinvent themselves for a new decade such as the a more clearly ‘rock’ based sound which was finding favour during a resurgence in the generic ‘Alternative’ music scene which would dominate for most of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Pulp Blur

These early New Labour years actually saw most of the leading lights of ‘Britpop’ split up. Between the years 1997/1998 such stalwarts as- Sleeper, Lush, These Animal Men, Menswear and more decided to call it a day, so it can hardly be said that Blair rode in on a wave of Cool Britannia rather than he attempted to go for a bit of a paddle as the tide was hurriedly going out.

I’m not sure where this New Labour/Britpop myth originates but I think it could very well be with Blair alone, after all New Labour were brilliant at self-promotion and smarmily latching onto things which seemed to offer some semblance of credibility with the young voters. Or maybe we remember it that way because we’d like to think that the biggest explosion in national creativity and self-confidence to express the same sort of British identity for the modern age which we last saw in the 1960s (whilst being nostalgic was undeniably of the ‘now’) was ushering in a new age for Britain rather than bookending the previous Conservative rule, a whooping 18 years from 1979 until 1997.

For brief a moment in time we just couldn’t go wrong in everything from fashion, music, film- ‘Trainspotting’ featuring a suitably Britpop soundtrack of sorts was hailed as revitalising the British Film (although it also opened the flood gates to a host of various poor imitators) Art became sexy and daring with the YBA’s ushering in the ‘BritArt’ and even Comedy saw a boon with the rise of theatre and stadium stand-up acts such as Newman and Baddiel (now free from The Mary Whitehouse Experience) and on TV with things like ‘Fist of Fun’. For much of the 1990s comedy was being touted as being the ‘New Rock n’ Roll’ at the time when oddly enough Britpop was being hailed as such. Union Jack flags were duly slapped onto any old tat and onto the covers of a rash of hurriedly rushed out compilation albums. Like other retro tinged music genres which saw revivals in related or similar scenes Britpop’s umbrella saw the Mod scene enjoy a fresh resurgence and 1960s styles and pop gained new appreciation amongst the young music fan. Britpop also oddly enough saw a sort of retrospective for the previous indie pop of the Madchester movement with Baggy and older Post-Punk bands (The Cure, The Smiths etc) ( and even some so called Grebo ones ) often being lumped together with the more current groups on comp albums and in articles being cited as natural precursors, laying the foundations for Britpop to build its success upon.


Maybe at the end of the say we would all just rather pretend that it didn’t happen under the watch of a Prime Minister so devoid of the wow factor, so utterly characterless and bland that he was often portrayed as having grey pallor skin and the epitome of a nerdy voice by the Spitting Image team as well as by the cartoonist Steve Bell.  So in the end Blair got all the glory and in the process he also possibly killed Britpop, for without anything to kick against anything approaching the sort of angst often attributed to a Tory majority government and which often sees a rise in such creativity that spurs on bands the spark soon fizzled out. Britpop just faded out, morphing into other tangents as Noel Gallagher supped champers with Tony at Number 10 happily posing for the press and Albarn legged it to Iceland for a bit in a sort of self-imposed exile leaving Coxon to steer Blur into the very American College Radio rock sound they’d been pushing against with their overly British band persona.

Anyway, politicians of any stripe pretending to know or care about pop culture are just as embarrassing as the shyster talking heads for hire and self-professed street culture experts who propagate these half remembered things as facts on TV items and thoughtful articles (such as this one).

As for what I was doing during the height of Britpop, well for the latter half I was pretending to be at Art College whilst doing very little to be creative and wore the then appropriate ‘Indie Kid Uniform’ of charity shop long black overcoat, clumpy boots and floppy home cut fringed hair making me the sort of cliché which gave rise to the Student Grant character in the comic Viz.




Did I meet Lemmy once?

I’m not all that sure truth be told, it may just be a half remembered fevered imagining from a confusing time in my past where alcohol consumption played a pretty big part. I speak of course of the heady days of the Mid-2000s, a time which was still enjoying full blown media interest and success after its post Grunge late 1990s ‘Nu-Metal’ led boon in many areas of ‘Alternative Music’ and in our case it was no different. For we were Psychobillies and our time had come once again. Thanks to the ‘Big Three’ American Label bands- The Horrorpops, Nekromantix and Tiger Army reviving an interest in all things Cowpunk/Billy based the scene was enjoying what some dubbed its ‘3rd Wave’ (and others its ‘4th’ confusing enough). Kids were dumping their skate punk and Emo fashions to adopt an off the peg American punk meets Rockabilly image, this was the start of the cliche fad for all those young Roller Derby women donning the head scarves, retro rocker hair and striking the famous American war effort poster ‘We Can Do It!’ pose in countless selfies today…

Anyway, the long and short of it was that all this interest had encouraged the band I was nominally roading for to pack up their bags and head abroad to play a new American festival and for the next few weeks slob about California preying upon the kindness of other bands there to blag a few gigs. A busman’s holiday of sorts. So off we jetted to play a hurriedly organised festival dedicated to all things Billy… Things did not go well, on arrival it became obvious there was no festival yet bands and fans were arriving from across the globe only to discover the venue was closed up and hurriedly hand scrawled note apologising for the cancelation was pinned on the doors. To this day I’m not sure what happened there, did the promoter leg it with the cash or was he let down by the venue? Anyway, instead of breaking it big to a new legion of fans the band and I had to dust ourselves off and make the best of a bad situation. This seemed to involved no more planning than hiring a car and setting off across the great state of California armed with a few contact numbers and addresses. Thankfully it seemed to pay off and we had enough gigs booked to warrant heading to that nest of vipers, the home of the rock cliché and paradise of the tasteless- Los Angeles. Once there we made a visit of many watering holes and of course the famous Rainbow Bar & Grill – well, it would have been rude not to.

I’m almost certain he was in residence at the Bar & Grill on the week we were propping up the bar attempting to look oh so cool and nonchalant as though we did this sort of thing all the time and hadn’t arrived from Lancashire all giddy with the excitement of being in America and California to boot. All these old ‘Roadie era’ stories start to wear thin and increasingly seem to the desperate ramblings of a man all too aware his youth is well behind him now and an admission that since that time I probably haven’t done enough or I’d have a collection of really cringe worthy, ribald stories about my life since. I think everyone’s getting bored of them, not just me.

That night I know we met and briefly chatted to legendary blue movie monster, the human hedgehog himself Ron Jeremy but he seemed more keen on filling his doggy bags with other diner’s unwanted food than talking to yet another group of excitedly gibbering and rather immature men in a band from another country.

The Rainbow is an odd venue; it’s pokey and large and seems to offer many hiding places for all manner of also rans and nearly famous faces… not just ours. There, like other such bars, exists an unwritten set of rules to save the celebs form the overly excited fans who have wandered into the holy of holies and the staff are ever observant as to who might be pushing their luck with a valued regular.

As we drunk with a mix of jet lag and expensive booze wandered aimlessly around the place we picked up a posse of the similarly lost with no agenda, including the drummer of Hanoi Rocks oddly enough who seemed rather chuffed he’d been recognised and so stuck to us like glue.

If he had been there, and he very well probably was, I probably muttered something daft but intended to be flattering his way, probably offered to buy him a drink but then I would have slunk away to peer at the great man from a curtained corner. I seem to remember he was there but memories a funny bugger with the benefit of 15years past and the added problem of seeing things through a drunken fug.

Lemmy Bar & Grill


Tragic to hear the heart breaking news about David Bowie, suddenly all the apocalyptic, end of days imagery from the new video makes much more sense…. I just wish I hadn’t given the videos I’d seen such a public bashing on Facebook now.

 I think I’m not alone here, like most fans of rock & pop I could take some of his albums more than others but that was the simple joy of the man in a world of increasingly vapid homogenised pap he’d be always relied upon to offer up something different, at times challenging, even esoteric… sometimes woefully so. But boy weren’t we glad he was there doing it, a real artist and each release was an event which was bound to offer up hours of geeky muso chatter in the pub. Like a lot of people I’m utterly unoriginal in favouring his more pre-Glam swagger years of Hunky Dory and the Ziggy/ Diamond Dog years.


Some artists you can always forgive their indiscretions such as the infamous time he pulled up in Neo-Fascist themed black shirted imagery and gave a pseudo Roman salute to the gathered press and crowd. A few people still held that against him but that’s to forget he was (although off his tits whilst doing so) attempting to tap into the current theme of playing around with shock factor imagery and particularly that associated with the 1930s Fascist movements which punk would then run with right up until rock against racism and was later adopted by certain Industrial groups (only our Morrissey’s still playing with that sort of thing).

Bowie Black Shirt

Of course he was no more a genuine fascist that Russell Brand is a firebrand Left wing revolutionary but it was still possibly his biggest mistake and sin with the musos and commentators for many years after often cropping up in critical media appraisals until the 00s

…. Think we all agree we could have done without ‘Dancing in the street’ though, that came a close second to toying with Fascistic imagery for the offence it caused.

It’s really pretty amazing when you ponder the origins of the man who would become the quintessential music chameleon quite happy to arrive on the scene once the ground work had already been done and acquire a bit of the cool around it for himself as he did so brazenly with New Romanticism, of course some might argue that without Bowie there would never have been both Punk or New Romantic movement so he was simply reclaiming his own. But going from the evidence of his early 1960s work and failures it really is shocking he could eventually reach such dizzying heights as pop’s grand old man and near demigod. He certainly put the hours in, sad to think that there are a fair few modern pop stars with record contracts and all manner of commercial enterprises going who (and seemingly take pride in) doing the least amount of work for their creativity and status. Bowie did it the hard way at a time when looking a bit ‘different’ or even having long hair as a man could earn you a sound kicking on the street. At the height of his Glam years he had inspired an army of young lads (and more oddly young women) to adopt similar gender bending fashion, andcrazy colour hair as their own and run the gauntlet of judgmental and hostile 1970s British mainstream attitude. That sort of thing would bleed into punk’s dress up box and from there we get plenty of pretty diverse offshoots.

Each generation has ‘their own’ Bowie incarnation, some had the good era and some the …well, less so, but each could lay claim to distinct look, feel, tone for their decade and for me it was his ‘Earthling’ and Nomad Soul era. I loved it at the time although the album has had very little play time on the stereo since the mid-2000s so I think this is as good a time as any to have another listen.

God bless you sir you were a true mensch of the music world.


Farewell Bowie


A few thoughts on 2015

Well, the year will soon be over and 2016 will be ushered in no doubt with much regretful imbibing of alcohol in the process. This is a wee baby of a blog though, sadly we hadn’t gotten around to sorting out and fully bringing it into the world until the year was almost done an dusted and it’s been at a time where I’ve had a fair bit on and couldn’t really justify logging many hours on scribbling opinions and articles on bands I like and feel others should like too. So here’s a quick rundown of somethings we wish we’d been up and about in time to cover and of what I think are the best albums of 2015… for what’s its worth.

Firstly we remember Brandon Carlisle drummer with the legendary pop punkers Teenage Bottlerocket who was so suddenly and tragically taken from us at the age of 36 in November. I haven’t been able to listen to them since without nearly shedding a tear and his loss sent a palable shockwave through the relatively small and tightknit community of Pop Punk both in the US and UK.

Brandon Carlise

There’s a tribute and benefit gig for the Carlisle family organised by Fraser of the Murderburgers and it’s scheduled for 23rd January at the venue: 13th Note, Glasgow. 8pm start and £5 on the door, money raised will be going to the Carlisle family to cover the costs of the funeral and medical expenses.

Bands booked to appear are:

Teenage Rammyrocket – a TBR tribute act made up of members of The Murderburgers, Kimberly Steaks and Lemonaids.

Manchester’s – Don Blake catchy stuff played by a great band who go from strength to strength whenever I’ve seen them live.

Glasgow’s: The Lemonaids– Surf Pop Punk inspired by the Queers, Ramones et al.

A great night of great music for a great cause. Check out the facebook page here for more up to date information when posted-

Farewell of course as well to Lemmy, a man who lived the rock n’ roll lifestyle 24/7 and wonderfully hang up free and with no affectations. He was what he was, and if there are any such things as ‘rock n’ roll clichés’ it’s probably because he invented pretty much all of them. Let’s be honest though and admit we’re all a little bit amazed that he lasted to 70 given his diet, drinking and intake of class As over the years. How Death had the nerve to come for him is anyone’s guess. His finest moment for me will always be the raucous appearance on The Young Ones which sent school boys up and down the nation shaking their heads to ‘Ace of Spades’ … and not a pot noodle in sight.

Also we bid farewell to John Bradbury  the late drummer of the Specials and The Specials AKA and his own band the Soul based JB Allstars. Bradbury had joined the Specials  shortly prior to their break out year and  the founding of 2tone and he subsequently would go on to join the post break up version of the band  known as The Specials AKA. In later years he would play again with one of the reformed line ups for the Specials reunion tour.

John Bradbury

ALBUMS of 2015:

My own personal choice for four of the best from the crop of albums which graced my stereo this year are (in no particular order)-

Giuda: ‘Speak Evil’ on Burning Heart Records

Giuda Speaks Evil cover

A rip roaring trawl through some proper Bootboy era Glam Rock reimagined for the 21st century and played by Italians. Slade meets Streetpunk and all carried off with platform booted panache. This is their 3rd and possibly best album yet. For a fuller review check out the earlier post on this blog titled ‘Viva Giuda!’


Teenage Bottlerocket: ‘Tales from Wyoming’ on Rise Records

TBR Tales From Wyoming

The sixth and we hope not the last album to be recorded by the band prior to Brandon’s tragic death. TBR have matured well over their existence and it all accumulates in this release which sees a broader, deeper scope of sound whilst still retaining the recognisable TBR formula on the whole Pop Punk thing. As with all the other TBR albums made after Kody joined this one also sees Kody sharing frontman duties with Ray Carlisle and it’s a neat trick as both have very different vocal stylings and bring something entirely different to the songs they’re entrusted to sing.

I loved nearly every minute of it although the ballad-esque ‘For the First Time’ seemed a little out of place tagged on as the final track and had the effect of jarring the listening experience. It’s inclusion is evidence of the band wanting to add a bit more subtlety to their repertoire and it’s no bad thing to have that diversity of tracks rather than wall to wall Pop Punk all the time. This album is evidence enough of why TBR became one of the preeminent bands on the scene.

Desperate Journalist: self-titled on Fierce Panda Records

Desperate Journalist

Ohh! Lovely! Bit of brooding post-punk C86 styled Jangly guitar brilliance. You could almost forgive your ears for making you think this was a period 1980s indie band rather than the young fresh faced 21st century group of talented so n’ so’s which they are. At times the homage to the whole Post Punk/Darkwave thing can become a tad too obvious with song titles such as ‘Control’ and things aren’t helped in that respect by the band also being named after a Peel Session dig by The Cure directed toward formally very important music journalist (and now talking head for hire for all manner of naff retrospective documentaries on BBC4) Paul Morley. But hours of fun could be had by dissecting every minor yet important influence which goes into the melting pot. They’re really very, very good and in an wider indie scene which seemingly can only take its cues from Britpop, the 1960s, New Wave or the more mainstream side of the genre designed for radio playability it’s nice to have something more darker and created of far more earthier substance than the light fluff often tagged as being ‘Indie’ nowadays. Desperate Journalist hark back to the cold dark days after the joyous Punk boon in local bands doing it for themselves, the soundtrack not of the suburbs but of the greying concrete New Town, empty streets and the damp mid-winter of the Thatcher years. Angsty but wonderfully joyous in spirit at the same time and I’ve found them the perfect musical accompaniment to getting ready for a night down at the local ‘Goth Night’ in my home town. They will no doubt draw comparisons to Joy Division, Bauhaus, Echo & The Bunnymen, Siouxie & The Banshees and the early Cure and The Smiths amongst the most obvious on your first few listens but frankly they’ve added a lot more to the equation than just a rehashing the Darkwave sound of old. It’s fresher and far more exciting than being a simple retrospective group. Jo Bevan’s vocals are wonderfully eerie and uplifting cutting through the jangle and excellently crafted music the rest of the band provides. I’m in awe of this band and for once I agree with the plaudits which have been given them by the usually slow on the uptake glossy magazine music press. (a bit of a cheat as this is a 2014 release)


The Spitfires: ‘Response’ on Catch 22 Records

spitfires response cover

Let’s get it out of the way now, lead singer Billy Sullivan sounds a lot like Paul Weller in full Post-Punk Jam era swing. The comparison is unavoidable as Sullivan clearly wants to sound like the Modfather but the thing is you frankly don’t care. He’s very good at it and he’s got his own set of hard hitting and emotive songs to back him up. This band of Neo-Mods is well honed and tight and clearly influenced by the Jam rather than say fellow Mod 2nd Wavers the Merton Parkas or even the more recent Ocean Colour Scene but they’ve added enough of their own style and the here and now to make sure they don’t fall into the simple ‘era tribute act’ trap which so often befalls other bands who wear their influences on their short sleeved button down oxford shirts. According to the band’s website they’ve had interest from Paul Weller and even The Specials and have supported both (to say nothing of the sponsorship interest from Ben Sherman) thus further cementing their connection to the late 1970s/1980s Mod and Rude Boy revivals. Thankfully The Spitfires are not destined for the ever decreasing circles of playing the retrospective scene circuit such as Scooter Rallies or Punk/Skin festivals. They’re far too good to become just another roster filler for middle aged men who despite their middle aged spread and thinning hairlines still squeeze into the fashions of their youthful years and get misty eyed and nostalgic whilst drinking and dancing to this sort of thing. It’s about time we had a young band who married the best of the Mod revival with an undeniably modern twist and sound and they’ll appeal to the broader music fan base of whatever passes for the Indie market now.


Viva Giuda! The ‘Bovva Boy’ Glam Revivalists.

1970s bootboys boot shot

We love Giuda here at PRnR and follows of my Facebook page will be able to attest to that having been plagued with postings of videos and updates on their output for the last few years. Giuda are former punks who shifted their sound to whole heartedly adopt not just the music but even the fashion styles of the UK’s late Glam scene and it’s more earthy appeal to the hordes of Booted flare jeaned terrace terrors who favoured the more yobbish and rock tinged efforts of Slade, The Sweet and of course The Jook proving that removed from the nation which spawned the sound and the subsequent scandals surrounding its biggest pop star (and to an extent the entire decade itself) that foot stomping, common as muck Glam still has a cachet. I was an instant convert on hearing them for the first time and I love the concept, since the 1970s UK music scenes of Glam Pop & rowdy Pub Rock in turn spawned Punk why not turn the clock back musically and explore those roots?

It works a treat. Personally I’d rather have a band like Giuda than a million Mohican & spikey leather wearing carbon copies of the UK82 and Street punk sound which still steadfastly refuses to acknowledge it is itself a poor recreation of the first wave. This is fresh; it’s oddly new even though it’s unapologetically retrospective and more importantly its bloody good music.

Giuda Noddys a fan

I’m a bit of a fan of the era which they so lovingly attempt to recreate I like the no-man’s land appeal of it, sitting somewhere between naff prog stadium rock, the optimistic bubble-gum pop or post hippie more experimentally earnest Glam of Bowie and Bolan in which sits a plethora of near forgotten bands who produced heavy sounding, thumping beat laden and unashamedly yobby soundtrack to a thousand nights on the tiles and hurried snogs outside of the social club disco. Sadly history has not been kind to the bands of the Boot Boy years, most formed far too late to capitalise upon the initial wave of interest in the music and failed to develop too soon to then cash in on punk. It’s an era (apart from the well-worn clichés and aforementioned scandals) which is often ignored or forgotten by most everyone who touts the history of subcultures, pop and youth cults and therefore is seemingly only worth mentioning (if at all) in passing before everything is supposed to have got better with Punk allegedly kicked over the traces (but really just changing the fads and inventing new rules)

Giuda have chosen to even dress in ‘period costume’ but fear not, no Noddy Holder silver disc covered top hats or wildly impractical platform knee length zip up silver space boots here. Rather the more every day and harder looking image which was the norm amongst those young working class men of the era who adapted the established Skinhead & Suedehead aspects of their older brother’s wardrobe, an odd mix of post-Skin, Post-Suede and terraced yob fashion with a trend conscious nod to current high street fads such as flares and horrendous knitwear. Lots of blue double denim, Crombie styled coats, longer (compared to the preceding working class Skin off shoot fashions) hair with mutton chops on the sides, high upturned flared jeans showing off the battered boots underneath, football club scarves worn in every way imaginable and even hanging off the belt loop on your jeans and of course more often than not the ubiquitous clumpy ‘bother’ boot be it ex-Army, work or Dr Marten in origin. It was never quite a scene in itself as say Mod or Skin was, more a general ‘look’ and if any music can be accredited as being ‘theirs’ in the same way that Soul was to Mods or Reggae was to the Skinheads then it could be argued Glam Pop was it. Ah yes, the stuff of Richard Allan pulp novels indeed, worth a read for the fashion tips alone if you can stomach their dated language and un-PC attitudes of the period in which they were written. Giuda though appear to have taken The Jook’s no nonsense look as their main style guide rather than the more scruffy generic ‘bovva’ boy.

Since they formed and have gained more acceptance and acknowledgment not just in the ether of the online world but getting favourable mentions now in glossy music press mags. They’ve also of course spawned the inevitable rush of sound-a-like and copycat groups, the bandwagon jumping has begun with some truly terrible efforts being thrown up in the wake. I’ve no wish to name names but there’s a band who just murder the concept and it’s all rather painful. Thankfully there are also some fairly decent attempts as well which is good for fans of this sort of thing.

Giuda prove that given enough time even the most unlikely of music style revivals can sound fresh and exciting again if injected with just enough tongue in cheek self-awareness, wit, style and obvious excellent musicianship. Giuda are a band which loves and lives the music of the decade that taste largely forgot and do much to remind us that there was a simmering of working class based 1970s pop-rock music which existed on another rough n’ ready level to radio fodder of Mud, Can and Slade et al and thrived well before punk threw the baby out with the bathwater.

Viva Giuda indeed.

Their new album: Giuda Speaks Evil is out now on Burning Heart Records.

Giuda Speaks Evil cover


Hello world!


Punk, Rattle ‘N’ Roll was originally a radio show that ran locally in a small provincial city from 2009 until 2013 and showcased (as the title hopefully conveyed) the best in current and classic Punk, Rockabilly, Punkabilly (and many variations of that ‘Billy’ theme) Freakbeat, Garage Rock as well as Dark Cabaret and yes even Blues & Jazz. To be honest the show simply reflected the host’s many interests in music.

Now it’s the tile of this blog which will feature the odd review, gig report, band update and opinion pieces on everything from subcultural style and fashions to individual scene histories. In that way it is completely unoriginal to hundreds of other Blogs but I hope you’ll dip into it now and then anyway regardless of that admission.