An Appreciation For Supergrass
In the annals of history Britpop will most probably be remembered for the ridiculous feud between the brothers Gallagher and Blur, but the world would be better off if it remembered it for a little band that made some excellent albums who called themselves Supergrass. Blur is no more (for the most part, anyway) and Oasis should have given up after their second album, having jumped the shark with the amazingly overblown and pretentious Be Here Now. Pulp, The Boo Radleys and a host of others all released excellent albums during the time but only one is still releasing consistently excellent albums today: Supergrass.
It’s easy to take the mighty ‘Grass for granted, but one would be foolish to do so ‘cause you’d be missing out on some terrific tunes.
The ‘Grass burst onto the scene with one of the most exciting albums of 1995. Picture the Buzzcocks, The Kinks and Madness blended together with a dash of swagger from the Rolling Stones and you should get an idea of the eclecticism of I Should Coco. The British music press praised the album as one of the best of the year, and unlike most of their predictions they actually got this one right. There were two stand-out singles although all 13 songs could have been released as such. The break neck punk-pop of Caught By The Fuzz which gloriously steals the riff from God Save The Queen is 2:16 of pure adrenaline and great fun. The second, and the one to reach the highest in the charts, was Alright. Using a Madness inspired keyboard riff it bounces along like the best singles do, and the chorus is as contagious as the swine flu. Considering that I Should Coco was their debut makes the feat all that more impressive. (4.5 out of 5)
“We’re in it for the money/ We’re in it for the money/ We’re in it for the money…” And so starts one of the great sophomore releases in recent history and one damn fine album. In It For The Money delves deep into more psychedelic territory, and although the tempo is less frantic than the debut the songs remain stellar. “Late In The Day”, Sun Hits The Sky” and “Richard III” are standouts, and the sonics of this album are a little more cohesive and tied together. Their influences are becoming a little more difficult to spot as well. 5 out of 5
Supergrass stumbled a tad on their self titled third, but it still contained some classic songs that stand up to the best of their…ahem…oeuvre; Jesus Came From Outer Space, Pumping On Your Stereo, Moving and Mary. 3 out of 5
After the relative comedown of their 3rd album Supergrass rebounded with an excellent effort entitled Life On Other Planets, in my opinion their second best record overall. Hooks and harmonies abound here, and the ‘Grass have their energy back, which is a good thing indeed. Allmusic makes an interesting point when reviewing this album: “Since they’ve been away for a while and have never broken in the States, Supergrass has been curiously overlooked, even though they’re better than 99 percent of the power pop and punk-pop bands out there (plus, their everything-old-is-new-again aesthetic can be heard in such albums as the Strokes Is This It?). But, as this glorious record proves, there are few bands around these days who are as flat-out enjoyable as this trio. The world is a better place for having Supergrass in it.” Newcomers to Supergrass would do well to start here. (4.5 out of 5)
The punnily titled Road To Rouen is a more introspective recording but that doesn’t mean it’s any less good; nor does it mean that the ‘Grass have lost their sense of fun. For proof of this one only has to look as far as Coffee In The Pot, a jaunty (can’t believe I just used that word!). Kick In The Teeth and the title track prove they can still rock, but the real stand out for me is the epic Tales Of Endurance Pts. 4,5 and 6. My only complaint: It’s too damn short at just a little over 35 minutes.
2008’s Diamond Hoo Ha, while still fairly consistent, is a little bit below in quality songs than their best and a smidge above their third. It starts off as energetic and as hook filled as their first two albums, but losing considerable steam near the end. But I’ll tell you that the White Stripes send-up “Diamond Hoo Ha Man” is worth the $10 investment alone. So, it’s an average Supergrass album which, as Allmusic stated above, is better than 99% of the stuff being released anyway. 3.5 out of 5