Musical scenes are funny things; like an iceberg, the bands you see and hear are often only part of the story. Furthermore, those bands and artists you don’t see can—and often are—equal or outshine the stars of the scene. (One can also find a lot of dreck, but that’s another story.) Martin Green Presents Super Sonics: 40 Junkshop Britpop Greats documents a brief but distinctive and interesting scene that dominated England and intrigued the world during the mid-1990s.
Britpop arose as a reaction to the Seattle invasion of the early 1990; with the death of Kurt Cobain in April 1994, the percolating underground soon dominated the press and captured the world’s attention. Super Sonics compiler Martin Green served as a DJ and club promoter during this era, so there’s perhaps no better person to posthumously document this scene of lesser knowns, talented no-hopers, and unheralded geniuses. No Oasis, Manic Street Preachers, Blur, or Radiohead here–this is the nitty-gritty that fueled the scene, for better or worse.
As a musical genre, Britpop ostensibly seemed less concerned about creating original styles; instead, the bands here synthesized all of the British music that came before them. Listen closely and you’ll hear traces of The Beatles (Pimlico, Rialto) , Glam (Jocasta, World Of Leather), Punk (Huggy Bear, bis, Peepshow), New Wave (Kenickie, Shampoo), and even the unfortunate Grebo (We Are Pleb). As with most scenes, some bands get lumped in with the scene, even if they don’t follow the sonic formula. Thus, electronica experimentalists Add N to X, Scala, and Pram feel slightly out of place here, but they do add a nice little slice of diversity.
But all scenes are fleeting things, and in the same way “grunge” gave way to Britpop when Cobain pulled the trigger, Britpop came to a crashing halt in 1997 with the tragic death of Princess Diana. In its wake came The Spice Girls, Britney Spears, boy bands, and new scenes to appeal to the youth. But for that brief moment in time, Super Sonics wonderfully documents when British pride and pop music collided. “We got fifteen minutes before we go pow,” yelled Shampoo in “We Don’t Care,” “We want our fifteen minutes, and we want it now!”
How right they were.
Purchase Martin Green Presents Super Sonics: 40 Junkshop Britpop Greats: Cherry Red