I’ve had a pile of cassette tapes gathering dust for maybe 15 years. I figured it was time to go through them. Sorting through some old belongings, I discovered an old walkman that still worked. Bingo! What would be on these dusty old tanglers? I was mostly hoping to find a phone interview I did with Nivek Ogre, or a face-to-face with Fear Factory, neither of which saw the light of day thanks to a mishap in a house move. They must have been in the other pile of tapes, which got damaged. Nope. On this one, I found …
It’s in a Smashing Pumpkins sleeve, but is actually a bootleg of Ministry in 1994. I went through a brief phase of picking up dodgy tapes – cassettes and videos – from the Camden Market. The bloke on the stall claimed to be mates with Killing Joke, and said they let him onto the stage to stand at the side to get the best footage. I never bought one of his Killing Joke tapes, but I did walk away with Skinny Puppy’s 1986 Ain’t It Dead Yet and NIN in Dallas, 1990. I’m guessing this is from that market stall.
Between 1983 and 1993, Creation Records released some of the best records ever made. They limped on for another six years after signing Oasis, but by that point the magic was gone. There was so much more to Creation than thuggish lad pop. This much more important history is remembered in a new film, Upside Down (named after a JAMC single), which does alas seem to spend too much time on those horrible, horrible Gallaghers.
Creation Records was indie music. It was everything that was right about it – and, later, everything that was wrong about it. I never much liked the Mary Chain or Teenage Fanclub, and later they had the weakest, most insipid excuses for Britpop – most of which came out after the label was bought out by Sony. Alan McGee had sobered up, which was important for him personally, but the death knell creatively because he could no longer keep pouring money into loss-making musical geniuses. My Bloody Valentine almost bankrupted him, but Loveless was unlike any record that had ever been made. Time was that you could pick up almost any band from the label and hear a great song. Time was that he’d sign bands on a whim with no concern about whether anyone would buy the records. Music needs people like this – not necessarily obliterated on drugs, but certainly insane and with capital. Most magically of all, some of these strange creative risks tapped into the soft spot of the record-buying public. Screamadelica reached number eight in the UK charts. Ride went top 10. Even Loveless sold 225,000 copies. I was not the only person to love these records with a passion.
Here are 10 of my favourite Creation songs, in no particular order.