What is the greatest British album

The basis of Britpop: The Stone Roses - "The Stone Roses" (1989)

Until then, it had been unsteady, unsatisfactory years in English pop culture, with no direction or friction. Maggie Thatcher, an enemy that has long created meaning and solidarity, was about to completely dismantle itself when factory owner and hacienda operator Tony Wilson leaned far out of the window in an act of daring businessmanship and declared “Madchester” the center of the world . The future of pop is its ability to be danced, according to the smart Tony, in conquering the dance floor with guitars. And that is exactly what happened in Manchester.

In retrospect, the marketing move certainly turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy and a lesson in media manipulation. The Stone Roses benefited significantly from this. Not only because they landed respectable hits in the following months with “Elephant Stone”, “Made Of Stone” and “One Love”. Not only because their album became a bestseller after all, but above all because they became the most important source of inspiration for an entire generation of musicians. The Britpop generation. For almost three years they were considered the coolest band on the planet. Everything has been mimicked, from John Squire's way of holding the guitar, to Ian Brown's waddling gait, to Mani's headgear and Reni's pants. "Their style was as perfect as their timing," recalls Noel Gallagner, "they were in the right place at the right moment."

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From New Wave to the "Father of Britpop": Paul Weller - "Stanley Road" (1995)

Together with the Stone Roses, Paul Weller bears the title of "Father of Britpop". After his success with The Jam and The Style Council, he worked on his solo career from 1991, which culminated in 1995 with "Stanley Road". Weller's third solo record went quadruple platinum in the UK and is his most successful release to date.

But it's not so much the sales figures that make “Stanley Road” such a great album. Rather, it is the conveyed positivity and the joy of making music that you cannot escape while listening. The album is named after the street Weller grew up on in Woking, England, and serves as a clear reference to his British origins. Sometimes the title track is reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac's “Don't Stop” from the album “Rumors”, which is Fleetwood Mac's equivalent to Paul Weller's “Stanley Road”: their magnum opus.

Plus, the time the album was released was worth its weight in gold. Britpop was on the cusp of absolute mainstream in the UK. Weller linked different epochs of British pop history on “Stanley Road” on the one hand through his own person and on the other hand with guest musicians such as Steve Winwood and Noel Gallagher. The publication was rounded off by the artwork by Peter Blake, i.e. by none other than the designer of the "Sgt.Pepper's" cover. Weller himself is still satisfied with the highlight of his career:

“We still play a lot of songs from“ Stanley Road ”live, that says a lot about the longevity of the album. Maybe the first two solo albums are something like the start of this third one. Everything came together, everything fit. Through the many concerts I had enormous self-confidence when it comes to playing, and the songs came naturally. Once Noel Gallagher came by, drank a few glasses and then had to play along for a bit. "

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Morbid Britpop: Suede - "Dog Man Star" (1994)

Suede hated Britpop. Your singer Brett Anderson called those who emulated so-called Laddism and personified the attitude of British pop culture in the mid-1990s as "social tourists". Middle-class people pretended to belong to the lower class by shouting for beer at the 1996 European Football Championship ("Lager! Lager!", As in the Underworld hit "Born Slippy") or the heroin chic of "Trainspotting" paid homage.

Anderson, who comes from the poorest of backgrounds, took a rigorous dislike of the unpleasant B-word: “Musicians who waved the British national flag in the nineties: It wasn't a fashion, it was disgusting nationalism! A couple of idiots holding up the Union Jack on stage. Unfortunately, Britpop was nothing more than that. "

Suede could not avoid the fact that they were nevertheless elevated to the status of the "Big Four" of Britpop, along with Oasis, Blur and Pulp. In 1991 the then influential "Melody Maker" ennobled them on the island as the greatest guitar pop musicians since the Smiths - and that without having released a single song. Her self-titled debut was finally followed in 1994 by “Dog Man Star”, shortly after the first signs of life from various artists who were soon located in the Britpop corner. Suede had an absolutely unique selling point: a mixture of glam rock, clown tears, working class and drug-induced “Dungeons & Dragons” fantasies.

How embarrassingly pop and classical can harmonize with each other, Suede proved with the much loved, orchestral accompaniment song "Still Life", which ends with "Dog Man Star" as a powerful finale. The only song that could match them in a similar way is Elbow's "Mirrorball" from the outstanding album "The Seldom Seen Kid" (2008).

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Britpop in a new guise: Blur - "Blur" (1997)

One of the reasons Suede loathed the Britpop label was because of the blur. More precisely: Damon Albarn. Justine Frischmann, founding member of Suede and later singer of Elastica, left Brett Anderson for Albarn. Nothing more needs to be said. Millions of Blur fans were less biased, however.

In 1997, Blur had long been one of the biggest bands in England. The Britpop hype was their platform and they manifested their standing over four albums in the early and mid-1990s, not least through the rivalry and publicly displayed vying for higher sales with Oasis. Unlike their biggest rivals from Manchester, Blur were ready to venture out on their self-titled album. They turned away from their previous sound, which had become their own trademark and that of the entire Britpop era. "Blur" is based on American indie with lo-fi influences. Albarn and his fellow musicians looked at Dub ("Essex Dogs") and poked fun at grunge with "Song 2". Their courage paid off and “Blur” became the band's most successful album. The step to say goodbye to the comfort zone deserves respect.

Even in the USA, Blur made their breakthrough thanks to “Song 2”. Many of her British colleagues have found it hard to beat - Blur made it through a misunderstood joke. Just like the success in America, the genesis of the song was more or less a coincidence. The album was already finished and the band had a party in the studio. During the festivities, they spontaneously recorded the song that made them famous beyond the borders of Great Britain.

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From ruins: The Verve - "Urban Hymns" (1997)

“Urban Hymns” by The Verve appeared like “Blur” after the actual zenith of Britpop. It doesn't make the album any worse. With their third album, the band from Wigan said goodbye to the Shoegaze and set out to become one of the most influential English bands of the late 90s. However, before the greatest album in their history was created, The Verve went through a brief crisis. Frontman Richard Ashcroft and guitarist Nick McCabe couldn't bridge their differences, so The Verve no longer existed. Just a few weeks after the breakup, the group got back together - but without McCabe. Ashcroft reflected on the strengths of the band and jumped over his shadow. He called McCabe and asked him to get back on The Verve after the rest of the members realized that without the former guitarist, an important piece of the puzzle was missing.

The trite cliché of the phoenix rising from the ashes became a reality on The Verve and their groundbreaking album "Urban Hymns". The song "Neon Wilderness" still refers to the previous albums with their flat, dreamy guitar arrangements and the psychedelic touch. “The Rolling People” and “Come On”, on the other hand, are much more straightforward and help “Urban Hymns” achieve a successful dynamic. The album is far without getting lost. It's structured without looking stiff.

The Verve's only number one hit is “The Drugs Don't Work”, but the undisputed best-known song is and remains the album opener “Bittersweet Symphony”. The orchestral version of the Rolling Stones song “The Last Time” served as a template for the world-famous orchestra sample - litigation included. At the latest through the use of the song in the film “Eiskalte Engel”, “Bittersweet Symphony” became legendary.

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Manic Street Preachers - "The Holy Bible" (1994)

It was Richey Edwards' album and his latest craze: a bunch of full-bodied quotes, not quite understood philosophy, social romance, puns, late adolescent poetry and aversion to the world. Live, Edwards fumbled beside the three musicians, rarely in the picture; Poster boy, heretic and martyr at the same time. Edwards read five books in a week, so Nicky Wire in retrospect - the bassist who married in 1994 and loved to vacuum at home couldn't keep up. Most of the lyrics came from Richey Edwards, who then threw down the chunks of James Bradfield, who had to write the music for "Yes", "Archives Of Pain" and "Revol". The singer remembers his first irritation.

"The Holy Bible" was the Manic Street Preachers' third work, a call to arms after the inflated "Gold Against The Soul". They realized that the “Generation Terrorists” provocation was quickly gone. Now they wrapped themselves in desert and medal-draped military rags, Bradfield put on a bobble hat - and so they rocked through English television: "Faster", "P.C.P.", "She Is Suffering". Glastonbury. Reading. Smash guitars. The revolution starts here.

But it wasn't all noise. James Bradfield managed to get some of his most beautiful songs to the difficult text masses, "She Is Suffering", "Die In The Summertime", the unforgettable riff of "Faster": "I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer." At that time hardly anyone wanted " The Holy Bible ”. Today the British music press celebrates the unwieldy campaign against consumerism, the USA and mental inertia as the triumph of the Welsh - it was actually only "Everything Must Go" that made the Manic Street Preachers popular. By then, Richey Edwards had already disappeared, was considered missing for years, and now reported as dead.

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When two argue, the third is happy: Pulp - "Different Class" (1995)

If you believe the master himself, the majority of the lyrics on this record were written within one night at the kitchen table. Flanked by a cheap bottle of brandy and emotional imbalance. Journalists and students alike should be aware that this way of working is often very productive.

In the case of “Different Class”, it led to an immense cohesion of the content: Jarvis Cocker basically drew the milieu, but also his own state of consciousness, which, as with the greatly underestimated predecessor “His'n'Hers”, is latent had fed sexual flashbacks. But the ambivalence of the incipient success was also recognizable: In addition to the well-known indie disco hits "Common People" and "Disco 2000", above all "Sorted For E’s & Wizz" should be mentioned: "Oh is this the way the future’s meant to feel / Or just 20,000 people standing in a field"it says here. What was originally supposed to be the milieu study of the ravers can, in retrospect, also be read as a description of the state of the successful live band Pulp, who managed one thing above all with this record: to confidently win the duel between Blur and Oasis, staged by the media in 1995.

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Everyone's Favorite: Supergrass - "In It For The Money" (1997)

So Pulp won the argument between Blur and Oasis for himself. Amid the factional dispute in the mid-1990s, however, there was one unifying factor in the heat of the Britpop era: Everyone loved supergrass, regardless of their various cultural, geographic, or whatever differences. Your humor played a crucial role in this. Later in their career, they sold official badges labeled "everyone’s second favorite band". Everyone's second favorite band. Oasis would have made an album with Blur before you heard them say that phrase about themselves.

Supergrass could laugh at themselves. Other bands made big announcements, either verbally, in the press or musically, but the Oxford trio (later quartet) recognized the absurdity of playing in a successful pop band. Their second album "In It For The Money" already had this madness in the title. Despite the name, the follow-up to their debut "I Should Coco" was comparatively serious. The light-heartedness increasingly gave way to thoughtfulness and gentle melancholy, for example in "It's Not Me". In fact, perhaps the most beautiful feature of the album is the modesty of Supergrass: Songs like "Cheapskate", "Sun Hits The Sky" and the rather rough "Richard III" are significant advances in their songwriting. The harmonies, arrangements and rhythms are more sophisticated than on "I Should Coco". As many of their contemporaries in Britpop anyway, but it is never presented triumphantly. Everything remains song and album useful, which makes "In It For The Money" one of the ten best Britpop records.


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Digression into Britpop: Radiohead - "The Bends" (1995)

On “The Bends”, Radiohead already hinted at their penchant for the artificial. The Britpop moments in the band's work can be found on this album, even if indignant opponents of this opinion may quickly raise their fingers. In order to be able to classify “The Bends” correctly, one has to visualize the history of its origins. Indeed, Radiohead were at a crossroads in their fledgling career. After their debut "Pablo Honey" (1993) failed to create an original profile and instead relied on post-pubescent college anthems like "Anyone Can Play Guitar", internal tensions threatened to divide the band.

Thom Yorke in particular dealt with episodes of depression. In the flashback, probably the breeding ground for sad and incredibly beautiful songs like “Fake Plastic Trees”. He increasingly doubted the future of the band and pondered the sense and nonsense of continuing. The original release date was set for late 1994 by the record company. Ultimately, an involuntary leverage. When it became clear that the band would not even begin to finish, the record company pushed for a quick single to be released well before the album was released. But nothing came of it either.

Until November 1994, Radiohead, who relocated their location to the legendary Abbey Road Studios for the last third of the sessions, tinkered with the songs. Johnny Greenwood became the craftsman of the sound. He changed guitars at random, experimented with amplitudes and increasingly developed into a creative sparring partner alongside Yorke. Perhaps it is precisely the stimulating backdrop of pressure to succeed and attrition that finally saved the band. Radiohead's reputation in popular culture was not the same after this album. Even if the commercial highlights were still to come: They had fought their way back and the genius in the interplay was not only hinted at, unlike on "Pablo Honey".

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Britpop's definition: Oasis - "(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?" (1995)

The second album by Oasis is one of the masterpieces of British pop history. It is after “St. Pepper’s “and Queens“ Greatest Hits ”the third best-selling album in England and includes classics of worldwide importance with“ Wonderwall ”,“ Champagne Supernova ”and“ Don't Look Back In Anger ”. The songs on "(What's the Story)" are a direct counterpoint to those on the debut album "Definitely Maybe" from 1994. "The whole first album is about escape"said Noel Gallagher ROLLING STONE in May 1996. “It's about escaping the shitty, boring life in Manchester. The first album is about the dream of being a pop star in a band. The second album is about actually being a pop star in a band. "

As usual, Noel said in one of his first interviews: "If you don't want to be bigger than the Beatles as a band, then your band is just a hobby." Bigger than the Beatles, Oasis certainly couldn't have done that. Nevertheless, they earned their place in the top box of the Popadel, and to a large extent through "(What’s the Story) Morning Glory". The role of the album in the context of Britpop becomes almost a minor matter. Sure, the whole thing with Blur was a huge thing in 1995, but who cares today? The music - the real core - is left over from it, and that's a good thing.

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