For those unfamiliar with British slang, the word ‘supergrass’ was a media invented term for a Premier league police informer. It appeared in the early 70s as part of the circus around some high-profile trials of underworld figures.
For folk who don’t know the British band Supergrass, they were formed in 1994. Their first album appeared the following year and was greeted with that rarest and most sought after of doubles: both popular and critical success.
Four is the number of their 2002 album Life On Other Planets. It is a corker from start to finish; full of energy and great songs. Vinyl Connection has their complete catalogue on CD but a lack of the black stuff ain’t gonna stop this spur of the moment appreciation of a funny, sparkling, all-round ripper of an album.
For those concerned with matters of blog etiquette, Vinyl Connection is certainly not trying to muscle onto the patch of Kamertunes. Rich recently posted a review of the first two Supergrass albums as part of one of his thorough re-visitings of an artist’s catalogue. Don’t even think of not reading his next instalment or the fuzz will be round banging on your door, mush.
For anyone entering the Supergrass trial a little late (and wanting to read Rich’s piece later) my CD of Life On Other Planets included a little pamphlet offering a free t-shirt (probably stolen) and a potted version of the story so far. The latter is presented here as evidence of the band’s criminal record:
Fortunately I’m not reviewing the third album here. The blurb above claims it is a ‘masterpiece’. Objection, your honour! The defendant severely overstates the case.
For influence spotters, you’ll be in heaven. T-Rex (‘Seen the light’), early Roxy Music, Bowie/Lou Reed (‘Funniest thing’), even a touch of Pink Floyd on the closing song (‘Run’). Some of the Kinks tropes from the earlier albums have survived (‘Evening of the day’), but here we are more 70s than 60s. More glam than paisley. Having said that, there are still spikes of punky energy – ‘Never done nothing like that before’ screams like a 90s version of Buzzcocks.
Form in the songs is classic but never tired. There are verses and choruses, guitars and some gorgeous analogue synth. Harmonies are tight but not over lush – we’re always closer to Small Faces than Beach Boys.
Four listens to this disc and you’ll be ranking it amongst your favourite 90s albums… perhaps even ‘all time’. Sure, the standout songs like ‘Grace’ and ‘Brecon Beacons’ (my favourite for its humour and Bolan blast) will still grab you after multiple listens, but so many other songs here are ‘sleepers’ that, my friends, you will undoubtedly be sentenced to life. Not on another planet nor in an English penitentiary but to a lifetime of rock riches fenced by the inimitable Supergrass.
For those with a little time and some curiosity…
Am I the only one who can imagine a court case looming here?