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 just stumbled on this hugely entertaining blog series about a Londoner’s earliest gig-going memories.
Reminds me of a few of my own.
FIRST: Soul II Soul / the Sindecut / Swervedriver
Brighton Centre, 1990
I was on Third Year Camp at the time (age 14), and my mother – I’ll always love her for this – drove out to where we were camped with our school-class, and drove me and my friends all the way to Brighton for the concert. I was still wearing my green wellington boots! After the gig, she picked us up and drove us all back to where we’d left our tents, in the forest in the middle of nowhere.
I remember being annoyed by the lack of enthusiasm for Swervedriver – really nice guys; great tunes. It was a pretty odd thing to have one of the heavier “shoegazing” bands supporting Soul II Soul anyway. The jazzy Sindecut had a really great single out that I don’t think actually got anywhere. I remember liking them.
I don’t actually remember if Soul II Soul were good or not, because I had no basis for comparison. They were just exactly as I expected them to be, and extremely slick and professional. I remember thinking Jazzy B was really sexy – and, like, totally profound. I might laugh now, but I’m still tapping my toe to this, even if the kiddie chorus grates.
SECOND: Charlatans / Intastella
Brighton Event, 1990
I queued for four hours before the doors open, and even thirty minutes after we’d arrived, the queue went right around the block. We were right at the front of the queue – me and my mum. We went right to the front. Mum and I got separated, and she’s barely five feet tall. She ended up wedged between these two really big blokes, and every time they jumped up, she got pulled up into the air with them. The bouncers had a hose trained on the crowd just to keep people from passing out.