Album: Doppelganger, 1992
Justification: “Daddy,” the child I will never have will fail to someday ask me in our brutal, post-apocalyptic future, “what were the early ’90s like in popular music?”
I will therefore not sigh, nor stroke her cherubic face and say “Oh, my dear fictional progeny, it was a time of great dreams, terrible aspirations and creative confusion.
“In the US grunge and hip hop were clambering toward the life-giving sun of the mainstream, blissfully unaware that very same radiation was to mutate them terribly; the first into self-important emo that channelled its rage and destructive energy away back at itself rather than at the society against which it once so raged, and the second into a grotesque, bitches’n'bling-focussed parody of the exact same inequalities it had formed in order to destroy.
“In Australia it was the flowering of a verdant indie scene that realised that it could truly enjoy both underground cred and commercial success before swiftly discovering that no, no it actually couldn’t.
“However, in the UK the first waves of superstar DJs roamed the earth, laying waste to floppy-fringed boys with guitars as young people shunned rock and embraced dance culture, and the tiny shoegaze mammals realised they’d have to develop a love of the Kinks if they wanted to survive. Species like Blur, Lush and the Charlatans were to evolve into alpha predators and thrive as the new age of Britpop dawned.
“But that destiny was by no means clear in 1991, when it appeared that the bands that were to be the future of music were those that combined the raw power of guitars with the processed beats of the dancefloor. Jesus Jones, EMF, even Carter USM all seemed to be space age rock’n'roll being beamed in from the future of tomorrow rather than – as they are seen now – as the musical equivalent of a penny farthing being ridden by a dodo dressed for an evening at the Colosseum.”
At this point I will not pause for the laughter that will never come. Undeterred, I shall (not) continue:
“Into that rich metaphor strode a pair of failed solo artists who’d already been a failed duo called State of Play. Seeing the way the musical wind was blowing they created a mix of guitars and dancebeats, called themselves Curve and released a series of EPs that got a lot of attention in the music press because Toni Halliday was arguably the hottest thing on the planet at the time. The widespread critical enthusiasm for looking at pictures of Halliday allowed she and Dean Garcia to keep making records, put a “proper” band together (which included guitarist Debbie Smith, who was later to join Echobelly, and drummer Steve Monti, late of Ian Dury & the Blockheads) and make videos that prominently featured Halliday looking like a privately-educated goth who could bounce you off her bedroom walls without ruffling one perfectly-arched eyebrow.
“Among those singles was ‘Fait Accompli’, which captures the band’s power at its height: those tumbling percussive rolls, those waves of guitars, that sensual voice. It’s no wonder that this potent mix of art, pop sensibility and sheer carnal appeal was to sell millions of records worldwide – although it must have been a bit irritating that said records were released by Garbage.”
I won’t take a sip of water, salty with hope and regret, before stroking my child’s brow once more. “The band split in 1994, then reformed in the ’00s for an album and some downloads before splitting again. I interviewed Halliday at the time and she still sounded hot. It was a phoner, though, so who can tell?” I shall fail to pause, look to the horizon and shake my head. “Truly, who can tell?”
And then the waves of deathrats attack.
And that’s how it won’t happen.
SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE DISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Cornershop got all jaunty and one-hit-wondery with ‘Brimful of Asha’.