Something Changed

I fucking loved getting off the bus on a Monday evening and dashing across the road to our town’s one and only independent record shop. You had to go down a little set of steps to get into Dominion Records. It didn’t mean an awful lot to me until Britpop kicked off. I can vividly remember standing by the 7″ section, flicking through the new releases and trying to decide if I could justify spending £2.29 on the vinyl of ‘Country House‘, when I’d bought the tape for the same price the week before.
Across those halcyon years in the mid-90s, every spare penny I had went into the till in that shop. You felt like no record would be a bad move. Nothing that you picked out would be shite – it was Britpop, and Britpop seemed invincible. That said, I never stooped to buying a full price Shed Seven single (I ended up with ‘Bully Boy‘ in some kind of ‘buy three for £1.50’ clearout deal, but we won’t count that.) ‘Marblehead Johnson‘ by The Bluetones and ‘The Circle‘ by (say it quietly) Ocean Colour Scene were the two CDs that proved to me that I was besotted with this particular ‘movement’. Never before would I have justified paying, gasp, £2.99 for a single. But, in October 1995 I got my first CD player, and thus the additional avenue of multiple CD sets entered the fray. I can remember being pissed off that both Woolies and my beloved Dominion Records wanted the best part of £3 for The Bluetones. I wasn’t too worldly-wise, but I knew that a single by The Bluetones was hardly a gold-encrusted cultural document.
Anyway, what Britpop offered to me was a route into an obsession. My love of music was vastly accelerated by those years, those issues of the NME and those hours spent glued to Lammo and Jo on Radio 1. The Sesh, as nostalgic wankers such as myself now call it, was a nightly appointment with two cool friends who seemed to have all of the new records long before we did. (Remember, this was a time before the internet was the first source of a band’s new single) I can remember Jo Whiley‘s articulate, compassionate and incisive interview with Nicky Wire when the Manics were taking their first, tentative steps as a three-piece. I’d make a mental note of any particularly good songs played across the week, and then hope to God that Dominion would have them in on the Monday. I can remember having to wait for the family trip to Bristol to rummage on the Gloucester Road for a copy of Marion‘s ‘Sleep‘ on orange vinyl. Still a cracking tune, to these ears, although probably not worth the petrol involved.
The afore-mentioned NME also played a huge part in my development. I was an NME snob, and I couldn’t bear the Melody Maker. It wasn’t as clever, it wasn’t as well designed and it didn’t get such good interviews. Occasionally I’d buy it for a Manics or Blur interview and sniff with derision as I flicked through it on my way to the important interview. It was a period where you had to speak up for whichever side you were on, where lines were drawn and allegiances fiercely protected. I loved it.
I get hugely nostalgic for it now, and that’s why ‘Something Changed – The Britpop Years‘ will be an on-off series for the forseeable future on this blog. Please have your say via the comment option.

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