Tim Worthington talks about the early days of what he didn’t actually know was called ‘Britpop’ yet in this extract from his book, Can’t Help Thinking About Me.
The period from roughly November 1991 to April 1993 was not an easy time for me. Not, I should stress, for any troubling personal reasons, but simply down to good old fashioned musical tribalism. I was a huge fan of The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, The Charlatans and many of the bands that had followed their example and in their wake.
I’ll be honest in retrospect and say that this entire scene had been in trouble for most of 1991 – some bands were caught up in legal and drug-related complications, while a significant amount of others were struggling to cobble together enough good songs to capitalise on their early success – and this left a void in the alternative music scene that was almost begging to be filled. It would be filled in no uncertain terms when a certain three-piece act from Seattle quietly slipped out a noisy, melodic album in September. Nobody really noticed it at first, but then they put out a single from it, and all hell broke loose.
In the words of a band from not all that long ago but whose legacy had been seemingly blasted away by the wave of noise emanating from America, Nirvana and their ilk said nothing to me about my life. Although I can’t say I feel especially any more well disposed toward Stone Temple Pilots or Pearl Jam, I can now look at or indeed listen to Nirvana as a band who, while not really my cup of tea, made some amazing music and in many ways changed popular culture forever; in fact I would even concede that this was almost on the same scale and to the same extent as The Beatles.
“In the words of a band from not all that long ago but whose legacy had been seemingly blasted away by the wave of noise emanating from America, Nirvana and their ilk said nothing to me about my life”
Back then, however, they were the enemy, with their studiedly undisciplined sound, negative and suicide-fetishing lyrics (something I have never felt especially comfortable with), and above all messy hair and appallingly dilapidated footwear getting right up the nose of a sixties-fixated neo-Mod who had taken a detour into ‘indie’ by circumstance. Worse still, everyone of every pop cultural persuasion – not just the grungers – seemed to have suddenly started worshipping all things American from Beverly Hills 90210 to Pop Tarts. What was there for a disaffected youngster to do apart from sulk?
Well, go even more defiantly into the world of polo shirts and Dunlop Green Flash and start arguing about The Kinks and Captain Scarlet And The Mysterons to anyone saying “you should listen to this, it’s Rage Against The Machine, it’s good”. Around this time, NME ran a spoof column by ‘Eddie England’, who was forever rampaging around Carnaby Street shouting about ‘Cheggers’ Lib’ and throwing bits of the Waddington’s Games Compendium at anyone wearing an oversized lumberjack shirt. I laughed at it at the time, but that was basically me.
© Tim Worthington.
Please don’t copy this only with more italics and exclamation marks.