by Ed Biggs 25 years after its release, it’s difficult to conceive of how different British urban music might sound if it wasn’t for Massive Attack. The Bristol trip-hop collective’s debut album Blue Lines did an enormous amount to broaden the horizons for the fledgling British urban music scene. Chief producer Andy ‘Mushroom’ Vowles adopted the sampling and production culture of American hip-hop and filtered it through the aesthetics of the
by Ed Biggs Marking pretty much the precise point at which dance music became epic, Alex Paterson turned an on-off DJing gig into a fully-fledged project with The Orb’s first studio album after years of EPs and singles. Sprawling over nearly two hours, The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld certainly doesn’t short change on the promise of its title.
by Ed Biggs A quarter of a century after the release of Spiderland, the second and final studio album by the short-lived Louisville four-piece Slint, it’s extremely difficult to imagine the state of the modern guitar music scene without it. Released on Corey Rusk’s Chicago-based Touch And Go label, one of the impressive network of indies that made up the 1980s American underground, it sold virtually nothing at the time, and
by Ed Biggs Transforming from awkward underdogs to the biggest indie band in the country in the space of just two years, Happy Mondays’ third LP Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches encapsulates the short-lived media obsession with ‘Madchester’ at the start of the ‘90s more than any other album. While it brought the shenanigans of their colourful lead singer Shaun Ryder and maracas player / backup dancer / lucky mascot Bez
by Ed Biggs The rapid ascension of Pulp from perennial outsiders to chart toppers and festival headliners during the mid ‘90s, and the multi-platinum sales figures of their 1995 album Different Class, is the most dramatic illustration of the effect that Britpop had upon the British music scene. In pretty much no other place or time could such a band have achieved so much so quickly.
by Ed Biggs While the commercial pomp and circumstance of Britpop was in full flow on the other side of the Atlantic in 1995, the biggest American guitar acts of the day were turning inwards, away from their audiences and exploring the limits of their own talents, not necessarily with any regard to what critics or fans thought about them. Pavement’s sprawling Wowee Zowee, Pearl Jam’s difficult but ultimately rewarding Vitalogy
by Ed Biggs Whenever a new band breaks out and receives hype from the music press, the reaction from the general public is often sceptical or scornful. “They’ll never be as big as The Beatles” was something that generations of new music lovers have from their parents or grandparents. But for a fleeting period in the mid-nineties, Oasis actually were, and that status came off the back of their gargantuan second
by Ed Biggs The long rise to fame, the fleeting brilliance, and the mysterious demise of Liverpool’s The La’s remains one of British pop music’s intriguing stories. There can’t be many people in the Western world that aren’t familiar with their signature song ‘There She Goes’, one of the purest pop records to ever fit into the indie genre, but their one and only album is not as appreciated or widely
by Ed Biggs Always one of the most underrated and overlooked groups of the ‘90s, Garbage were prime movers of the alternative rock trend that exploded in America that decade, at around the same time that Britpop was doing likewise across the Atlantic. Formed of three American producers and musicians – including Nirvana producer Butch Vig – plus their fiery Edinburgh-born Shirley Manson with her shock of red hair and streak
by Ed Biggs Bossanova enjoys an unfairly deserved reputation in Pixies’ back catalogue as the point where it started to go wrong for them. Surfer Rosa and Doolittle were hugely well received by the American and European indie underground, and did so much to help form the musical template that would become known as ‘alternative rock’ in the ‘90s by influencing, among others, Nirvana. But one tends to hear much less