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NATIONAL ANTHEMS

An invented scene? A derivative blind alley? A catch-all for any mid-90s UK band with guitars? Britpop was something, yet no two people agree exactly what. Michael Stephens revisits “the last big movement in alternative music” to find some songs that will live forever and other tunes not good enough…

Scuttle back to April 1992, and Blur are blue. Despite the UK No.2 success of their ‘baggy-lite’ debut LP, Leisure, the foursome find out their first (now departed) manager Michael Collins had racked up tax debts of £60,000. Blur are also in hock to US label SBK, who had spent close to $1m trying (unsuccessfully) to break them in the United States. They need to tour, and hopefully sell a lot of T-shirts, too. Traversing the huge nation over 44 dates, the quartet seem constantly drunk and are enjoying nothing of magic America. By his own admission, frontman Damon Albarn becomes so homesick, he shuts himself in his hotel room and listens obsessively to The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset every night. Soon, he’s writing songs that avow his love for home.

Go forward a year to April 1993, and the now-defunct Select magazine are pinning hopes on fast-rising glammy London-based quartet Suede. Under a headline of ‘Yanks Go Home’ and with singer Brett Anderson superimposed (without his knowledge) over a Union flag, the mag devotes 12 pages to Suede, Pulp, St Etienne, Denim and The Auteurs. Blur aren’t mentioned. Hey, no rock hack can claim they always get it all right.

Go forward another year, April 1994, and Oasis release debut single Supersonic. Definitely Maybe follows in August.

On paper, and even in reality, these bands had little in common. Yes, they were retro, markedly English guitar groups. But they were not a ‘mutual appreciation society’. There was antagonism between Anderson and Albarn over Justine Frischmann (the future Elastica frontwoman had left the former to date the latter, also exiting the band she co-founded, Suede). Pulp, from Sheffield, had formed a decade earlier and weren’t initially part of any London ‘hip’ set. Ditto Manchester’s Oasis - they were just five swaggering lads who happened to boast a songwriter touched with magpie genius. But every creative bubble can become a cauldron, if only it was a ‘movement’ you could hang a hat on. And so it was, some time between 1993 and 1994, that the word Britpop started to fly…

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About Long Live Vinyl

Issue 37 of the new-look Long Live Vinyl comes complete with the official Record Store Day Guide – a free 40-page magazine bring you the lowdown on all 500+ Record Store Day releases and where to get them… There’s also a handy map to help you find your nearest of the 237 participating independent record shops and the chance to win £100 of Record Tokens to spend in the shop of your choice. Inside the regular mag, our cover feature takes an in-depth look back at the heady mid-90s Britpop boom and we round up 40 essential 90s classics to add to your collection. Our features section is bulging at the seams, including interviews with Tame Impala about new album The Slow Rush, Nada Reid, Cornershop, Jeffrey Lewis, Jonathan Wilson and Lanterns On The Lake. There’s also a look at the MTV Unplugged series on vinyl, a history of legendary New York Label Sire, a guide to buying Brazilian vinyl and our Classic Album is Radiohead’s 1995 monster The Bends. If that’s not all enough, Long Live Vinyl brings you the most comprehensive range of new album, reissue and hi-fi gear reviews anywhere on the newsstand. Order your copy now, get your highlighter pen out and let the countdown to Record Store Day commence!

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