I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I Was Britpopped by Jenny Natasha, Tom Boniface-Webb
Published by Valley Press on November 2, 2017
Genres: Great Britain, Music, Pop
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For those who might be unaware of the term, Britpop refers to the music scene in the UK between roughly 1992 and 1998. It was a magical period that spawned some great bands with a new, fresh style.
The authors of I Was Britpopped – Jenny Natasha and Tom Boniface-Webb – explain how Britpop was so much more than just the music. It overlapped into popular culture, clothing, art, design, even politics.
Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Suede, Elastica
They describe how leading the way down Britpop Street were Damon Albarn’s Blur and the Gallagher brothers’ Oasis. Alongside them were Pulp, Suede and Elastica, with their respective frontmen/women being Jarvis Cocker, Brett Anderson and Justine Frischmann. Following in their footsteps was a whole raft of groups such as The Bluetones, Shed Seven, Supergrass, Verve, Sleeper, Republica, Cast, Salad, and the Lightning Seeds.
They explain how Britpop wasn’t based or confined to Liverpool, London, Manchester or any other UK city. It was Brit-wide, incorporating some huge festivals at Knebworth.
Echoes of the Sixties?
Most attractively, Britpop was a return to the roots of the sixties bands: vocals, guitars, bass and drums. Not a synthesizer or drum loop in sight (almost).
The authors point out the origins of Britpop. They consider that it was a reaction to America’s grunge scene which was dominated by Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Instead, Britpop groups sang in regional accents, referred to British culture, wrote lyrics concerned with everyday life, and were unafraid of their generally working class roots.
I Was Britpopped is an encyclopedia. In other words, it’s not intended to be read from cover to cover, but dipped into. It’s an admittedly personal selection of what the authors consider to be the most relevant bands, performers, albums, songs, venues and even clothing of the Britpop era.
It’s well written and researched, with over 500 entries in the A-Z format. It does not contain any photos; it’s text only. However, it does have a couple of very smartly designed and presented illustrations showing the number 1 songs and albums in this era.
Aside from providing a wealth of information for anyone interested in the topic, it’s also got a spattering of unusual snippets. These caught my eye:
- Steven Spielberg approached Supergrass to create a Monkees-style TV show. They declined.
- The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft played football as a junior for Wigan Athletic.
- 16-year old Liam Gallagher decided to form his own band after seeing The Stone Roses play live.
- Comedian Ricky Gervais was Suede’s manager when he worked at UCL’s Student Union.
- Sleeper’s frontwoman Louise Wener transferred her skills to become a successful novelist.
- Radio DJs joked that the 50s-style Mike Flowers Pop cover version of the Oasis classic Wonderwall was in fact the original, leading to much confusion.
Although a personal selection, I would be very surprised if any “official” Britpop encyclopedia could be any more comprehensive than I Was Britpopped. It’s a Different Class. Some Might Say. D’you Know What I Mean? Definitely Maybe.