Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Since writing part one of this article way back in 1995 I’ve stopped saying things as preposterous as Creation, a consistent record label with some above average rock bands is as good as prime time Motown. This is of course nonsense, when will Momus ever be worthy of a mention in the same discussion as Diana Ross? Holland, Dozier & Holland have paid their dues, Arnold did not.
SUPERNOVA HIGHS AND LOWS…..1995 TO THE END
One thing that part 1 of this article smacks of (alongside over enthusiasm and flagrant early 20’s arrogance is how under Creation’s spell I was, I treated every release as if it was as big as ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band’ and in some cases I probably declared some of their acts albums to be even better than that; this being nowhere near as bad as saying 60 Ft Dolls were better than The Jam in Manchester’s Big Issue in ’97.
From 1995 onwards Creation continued their late honeymoon period for another two years until it was slowly consumed by the Oasis juggernaut and several misjudged signings. With Oasis almost guaranteeing number ones and heavily shifted units, McGee signed Heavy Stereo arrogantly thinking that if they took a bad indie band and got them to copy ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol twelve times, they’d become just as big as Oasis. This wasn’t the case and despite an unprecedented amount of hype surrounding them, the sunk without trace until lead singer Gem Archer took up Bonehead’s position as pointless guitar bloke in Oasis in 2000.
Ex Silverfish singer Lesley Rankine surprised with her trip hop project Ruby and One True Parker released a couple of cutting edge drum n bass track broadening Creation’s musical spectrum. As a sideline, McGee gave Kris Needs a techno offshoot named Eruption, the two main things of note they did was fail to market The Wamdue Project’s dance floor killer ‘King of my Castle’ a subsequent number one smash upon re-release on a major label but one positive was The Innocent Party’s ‘Serious Mind F*ck, one of the greatest UK techno singles of all time.
18 Wheeler blossomed into an interesting clash of electronic beats and Brian Wilson tinged melancholy and new signings Super Furry Animals showed huge praise on two albums before releasing the first of several great albums, their third; ‘Guerilla’ in 1999.
My Bloody Valentine disappeared to the ‘studio’ not to be seen again until the reformation in 2007 and Ride imploded in 1996 as Mark Gardener and Andy Bell, the two main songwriters succumbed to rock stereotypes such as song writing credits and internal power struggles. Bell went onto form adequate indie band Hurricane No 1 who after showing promise ruined it by allowing McGee to push them into agreeing The Sun newspaper to use one of their tracks in an advertising campaign.
Liverpool’s Boo Radleys had a massive fall from grace, after a number one album with ‘Wake Up!’ in 1994, they returned two years later with a purposefully uncompromising sound which nobody in particular wanted to hear, their final album ‘Kingsize’, rejected several times by McGee ended up a directionless mess of overcooked pop music and bad attempts at incorporating dance beats into their sound, they split soon after release.
As Oasis continued to increase in stature thanks to the overblown 1997 third album ‘Be Here Now’, their other acts failed to offer much of interest. Indie no hopers Toaster and punk rock also rans Three Colours Red made lots of noise but failed to translate noise into sales whereas the return of the prodigal sons the Mary Chain came to nothing as they were going through a particularly dysfunctional(even for them) period which soon brought on their demise. Creation also became the home of the washed up as they signed Glenn Matlock (Sex Pistols), Bernard Butler (Suede) and even Haircut 100’s Nick Heyward up for unimpressive albums and the less said of Kevin Rowland’s (Dexy’s Midnight Runners) album the better.
It took two of their most enduring bands to pull them through the musical mire, Teenage Fanclub’s ’97 release ‘Songs from Northern Britain, a surprise top three album contained some of their finest work and Primal Scream proved 1994’s’ Give out but don’t give up, the misfiring follow up to Screamadelica was a temporary glitch in the career and followed it with two of their very best ‘97’s ‘Vanishing Point’ and 1999’s astonishing ‘XTMNTR’
Creation’s closure was a rumour before it came to fruition, their last release of any note being from McGee’s long suffering side kick Bobbie Gillespie, ‘XTRMNTR’ is a rancid fusion of post punk & kraturock, it’s loud, angry, messy and paranoid, it’s the 45 minute comedown from the euphoria that began with ‘Screamadelica’, the lows always follow the highs and this is the most spectacular fall from a high you can get. They haven’t been able to reach these heights since and fell into a parody of them parodying the Stones with their atrocious ‘Riot City Blues’ album, they’re currently hawking Screamadelica round the world on a 20th anniversary tour to ensure that mortgage payments aren’t missed for a while.
The Oasis story is not for here despite having two of the biggest UK albums eve. ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘Morning Glory’ were the soundtrack of a generation waking up, finding their feet and deciding what they were going to do with their life but musically they haven’t stood the test of time. The former suffers from awful production and bad musicianship and the latter reeks of desperation to write twelve anthems for a generation.
The ridiculous (but very exciting at the time) ‘war’ between Blur may have been won by Oasis in the short term but it was Blur or rather Damon Albarn who morphed into a genre hopping maestro with a genius ability for great pop. The world waits for Noel Gallagher output after the 2009 split of Oasis. After Liam’s underwhelming Beady Eye, the depressing reality is that Noel will also fail and they will chase the money offered in five years time as the audience pay through the nose to experience this inevitable reformation like sheep.
It’s Super Furry Animals who come out of this story best, maintaining an enduring legacy while coming up with consistently great albums. Their 2001 album ‘Rings around the world’ a stone cold classic as is their first for the legendary Rough Trade label; ‘Hey Venus, just two of the five post Creation albums. Lead singer Gruff Rhys has also carved out a niche for leftfield indie pop over three solo albums and an inspired coupling with Boom Bip for 2008’s fantastic electro-pop concept album ‘Neon Neon’.
Teenage Fanclub have worked at a snails pace since Creation mustering up just three albums each with a five year gap, short change for a group containing three song writers and each album as non essential as the one before.
Primal Scream also have a mixed bag of a back catalogue, currently working at a one good album followed by two average one ratio, the last good one being ‘Evil Heat’ back in 2002. With them touring ‘Screamadelica’ currently, this will hopefully revitalise the band that have been running on empty for the past decade.
There were two very distinct moments when Creation began to lose sight of what it was; the humongous backstage area of the Oasis Knebworth gigs albeit great fun was also possibly the crassest display of inflated ego ever, the Creation area of the backstage area (V – VIP of course!) was bigger than some tents at music festivals. The other time was at a showcase gig for Creation act (and Andy Bell from Ride’s wife Idha in ‘97. Bell’s post Ride project Hurricane no 1 had been suitably hyped up by the music press at the time and this annoyed Gallagher junior to a point where both lead singers were sniping at each other in the press like snotty nosed schoolboys.
Neither bands were setting the world alight musically; ‘Be Here Now’ is quite rightly derided now and everyone has surely forgotten what the latter sounded like.
In a very carefully stage managed ‘bumping into each other’ both lead singers began to fight like little girls directly in front of the table I was seated at.
Gallagher’s security guards over a foot taller and at least a foot wider of pure muscle’ struggled’ to keep Gallagher from his rival shouting at me to pass him the ash tray that was on my table so he could hit him with it (ah, the days of indoor smoking), of course I did nothing of the sort and sat back amused and bemused at what Creation and indie music was becoming.
In the twelve years since Creation’s passing indie music has been on a steady decline, the word indie itself now a byword for the tight jeans section in Top Shop as indie record labels barely exist any more. It’s no longer a musical genre but a generic word for anything that might have a bit of guitar in. Bands such as Oasis and early Adorable no longer exist anymore, the arrogant swagger that made these bands so exciting at the time has been smoothed out by the huge machine that churns out music acceptable for regular play on commercial radio stations.
Modern day music now is no more dangerous than Elvis’ hips in the 50’s. If David Bowie made his introduction now he’d be dismissed as a freak, Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ was genuinely shocking, Lady Gaga singing ‘I’m a free bitch’ definitely isn’t. The Libertines apparently meant a lot to their fans but if you’re not a fan they equate to a heroin addict propped up by very very average musicians. The direct result of The Libertines however was the Arctic Monkeys who are the last guitar band to come from this Country to actually mean something, they’ve been around for seven years now so the time is right for the next band to take it up a notch – CLUE – it’s NOT The Vaccines.
McGee himself ran off back to the indie underground to set up Poptones whose biggest success were a couple of singles by The Hives and has since retired from the music industry however with the release of the ‘Upside Down’ documentary he seems to have forgotten that. Dick Green his Creation associate left to form Wichita who
Oh and twenty years on there’s STILL no new album from My Bloody Valentine either.
Creation Records Part 1: Re Hab Fab 1983 – 1995
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