I would imagine the insoles are warm

For part 2 of ‘Something Changed‘ I thought I’d conduct an experiment. Up to this point Shed Seven have functioned as the punchline to virtually every musical joke I have ever made. They’re a very easy target, and Rick– cockney rhyming slang – Witter‘s foghorn voice really used to piss me off. However, with time I have mellowed and actually found that a lot of the tunes from the indie years are quite charming. Admittedly much of this is to do with nostalgia, and I’ll never think Menswear were good but, in an attempt to be fair-minded, I have bought their greatest hits, entitled ‘Going For Gold,‘ for £2.50. Below I will be writing a track-by-track commentary as I listen to it. Will my opinion of the band have changed at the end? Read on.

1. Going For Gold – Perfectly serviceable indie fare, although until this moment I was under the impression that it was their highlight. Hopefully not, otherwise the next hour could be quite punishing.
2. Disco Down – Now this is more like it. I really, really hated this when it came out. But then I felt obliged to. Shed Seven were the hate figures to represent the average side of indie that any self-respecting indie kid must rail against. It’s actually a neatly put together indie-dance number with some nice string sounds. Things are improving.
3. Getting Better – Frankly, this shits all over ‘Going For Gold’. This was the first Shed Seven I can remember encountering. I thought it was alright. It certainly didn’t provoke the hatred that I have since attached to the band.
4. Chasing Rainbows – One of two Sheds singles I actually bought. T’was a gatefold 7″ if I recall correctly. Bit over-polished and badly sung for my liking. Represents the very smug side of Britpop.
5. Speakeasy – at The Link, it’s easy.” Hard to forget the terminally shit ad that adapted this track. It’s a bit more naive sounding than the other stuff, with more of a Wedding Present feel. Not bad at all. Ooh, it’s just gone all baggy.
6. She Left Me On Friday – Forever attached to the episode of ‘Teachers‘ where Simon has pissed off Maggie and spends the entire weekend alone in his pyjamas, lying on the sofa failing to achieve anything. This was the first Shed Seven song that I truly hated, but its rehabilitation at the hands of one of my all-time favourite TV shows has worked wonders for it. I’m actually quite enjoying it.
7. On Standby – It builds like there’s going to be an anthemic chorus. But then there isn’t one. Dull. Really very dull.
8. Dolphin ’99 – Presumably a re-recorded version to get fans to buy the best of. Musically akin to the second Charlatans album. What does that one sound like, I hear you ask? Exactly my point.
9. High Hopes – Quaint string-based intro, before ballady drums creep in. Woah. It’s finished, and I’d barely noticed that it had even happened. Bland.
10. Bully Boy – The reason for wanting this compilation. Another track that got used in ‘Teachers‘, and the other single of theirs I bought. Admittedly it was on tape, as part of a 3 Cassette singles for £1.50 offer, but I bought it nonetheless. Perfectly, storytelling, singalong, air guitar-friendly indie fodder. Possibly their finest. And a great ending too.
11. Devil In Your Shoes – They nearly won me over in their twilight years with this one. A gently, lilting tune with Witter’s singing notably improved. This is rather anthemic, nice use of horns and genuinely enjoyable, if not earth-shattering.
12. Where Have You Been Tonight? – I can remember the little adverts for this in the NME. An atmospheric swagged to this one, and it’s hard not to warm to it thanks to the confidence of the band’s playing. It’s typical mid-90s cocky indie band in pomp stuff. But that’s great. No, really.
13. Ocean Pie – Drifted by a bit. A few engaging chords but vocally fairly drab. I may well be losing interest, folks.
14. Mark – Doesn’t sound like Shed Seven! Rick’s voice is different. In fact it reminds me of a current band, but I can’t quite figure out which band. Yes, I know, and excellent point of comparison, therefore.
15. The Heroes – And here we are at the end. A weirdly twinkly and off-kilter organ thing to kick off. Slightly too languid vocal, but nowhere near as annoying as I would have expected. Launches into another mid-paced, ballady bridge, although it has a hint of that cheeky mid-90s, ‘we can get away with anything’ spirit. Ideal album closer. Has a nice ending, but then noodles on a little bit. Sometimes less is more.

So, what have I learnt. Essentially, fuck all. But, I do think Shed Seven are ok now, and freely admit that they actually had half a dozen really decent singles. For me, that’s serious progress. I don’t think they were a particularly brilliant band, but I will concede that they were by no means the sub-indie pondlife I thought they were. Any thoughts?


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