This was how I discovered Necessary, via an interview at The Quietus: Necessary had given away their second album, Galgeberg/Gimle, for free, which was fortuitous for my ears, if not for their wallets. It was one of the best pieces of music I heard that year.
I’m not sure which words persuaded me to click on the link: “heavy breaks, turntablism, bass music, hauntological synth work, drum and bass, hip hop, chopped and screwed rap, industrial, choral and funk” … “combined in surprising, provocative and unsettling ways.” Maybe it was the occult chanting, the Persian singer, the Ligeti reference, grime, hip-hop, black metal and doom. Perhaps it was the Spanish civil war samples, the Chilean rapping, dub, goth, world music, or the “Post-Dictatorial Troll-Hop”.
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.
I’ve done hunting around and can only find one surviving copy of my fanzine – the very last paper issue, which came out either very late 1995 or very early 1996.
I’ve put up a couple of bits that I thought might be of interest, and I’ll add a couple more over the coming days, but there’s little danger of this blog becoming “Jo namedrops 1001 bands she interviewed before they were famous” because I can only think of two bits worth typing up here that still actually survive.
What I did find was the “theme tune” to my fanzine. I asked the band Slowdive (my second interview) what I should call the ‘zine, and they said, “Souvlaki”, after a sketch by audio pranksters The Jerky Boys. It has to be said, this song still absolutely rocks. I couldn’t pick a better theme tune.