Monday, 25 November 2013

I wanna be a Punka too ..... Kenickie

We were Kenickie ... A bunch of fuckwits.

What a fantastic way to disband and go on your merry way. Some of you may know Lauren Laverne from the television and radio fronting all sorts of programmes, but did you know she fronted one of the best loved female fronted bands during the Britpop era?.. No?.... then please read on.

Hailing from Sunderland and naming the band after the namesake in the film Grease, they exploded on to the scene in 1994 and shook up the Britpop sound with punk and Leopard skin!. They would go on to release 2 EP's, 7 singles and 2 studio albums, but would gain a cult following and many a young teenage boy heart.
To me the three minute single is a hard thing to write but Kenickie perfected this with their 1st single Punka. Now certain girl groups of the era would be spouting about "Girl Power" (you know who you are Spice Girls!) when there were women and bands who actually were already doing this for themselves and not banging on about it. I remember at the time getting so angry with groups like The Spice Girls spouting about Girl Power when in fact they were manufactured and moulded by accountants and record producers who wrote for them and told them what to do, say and wear.  Kenickie were actually out there doing it! Writing their own material, playing their own instruments and playing the sweaty Indie clubs to 10 people and a dog!

With Sounds like they played their guitars with razorblades, they were what the British music scene needed in 1994 just as Britpop exploded and blew the shoegazing scene out of the water. A band that other bands look up to the first time in years. The 3 girl and a guy drummer (his name was Pete Gofton and an excellent drummer at that!) was a perfect formula and with a love of Peroxide, animal print, spiky guitars and the pouting....... oh how can we forget the pouting, we had the makings of a band who would invoke what it was to be in a band when you were a teenager.
Like living in a cartoon bubble and with references to British culture they were like a female fronted punk version of Pulp but from Sunderland. Their debut album At the Club was released in May 1994, and thrusted the band into the limelight and smack on the front of the local music mags all angst and angry but looking so pretty!. At the club would include the excellent single Night Life which was released on a limited 7" leopard print vinyl. So in 1998 we were treated to a second album. Get In would give us a very different sounding Kenickie and I would say a more grown up album. Only two singles would be released off the album. The very twee I Would Fix You and the catchy Stay in the Sun. Putting away the guitars for a more synth, twee pop sound the album failed to top the success of their debut despite being a fantastic album in its own right.

So there we have it. A band who shot to the heady hights of the mid 20's of the UK charts right as the Britpop bubble was ready to pop. Its bands like Kenickie that should be around today to show how UK guitar pop should be done. They may be gone but for many of us they will never be forgotten.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Were having a ball ...........60ft Dolls

Whilst tuning in to Radio One's Evening Session which I did every Monday to Friday, Steve Lamacq played a single from one of a new set of bands that were emerging from Wales. The single was Pig Valentine and the band was The 60ft Dolls.  They gave the whole Britpop sound a stripping down with a swagger of rock and a whole load of punk. With sound scapes ranging from Mod and Metal to early 90's Grunge they gave the scene something that was lacking at the time and that was the classic 3 minute pop song, and boy these guys could write some. A whole album chock full in fact, but we will come to that later.
Forming in 1992 in Newport; Wales with connections to Donna Matthews from Elastica, hung out at the local music venue TJ's and listened to the local hardcore bands that played on a weekly basis and they took this and mixed it with rock just at the right time for the British public to take notice. I've spent many a drunken night in the venue TJ's when I lived in Newport and saw many of the ‘greats’ play there and can see why it was an integral part of the band making them what they were.
Being championed by Radio One's Evening Session they even broke the American market being featured in the New York Times’ Best Singles of 1996 and; given the amount of great singles released in that year that was pretty good going.  Being signed to the uber cool Indie label Indolent they released the two singles Talk To Me and Pig Valentine before releasing the storming classic album The Big 3. The album has gone down as a rock classic and would feature all the singles apart from White Knuckle Ride and would re-release and re-record their very first single Happy Shopper.From releasing Indie singles on an unknown label to being signed to Geffen and touring the world in just 4 years is pretty good going by any standards but alas it wasn't to last as most things from that era.They released their last single Alison's Room in 1998 with the following album Joya Magica in the same year and later disbanded.
I saw them a handful of times in the mid Nineties and each time they blew me away. For a 3 piece punk rock outfit hailing from Newport they did what some bands won't do in a life time and a sound that some can never re-create live no matter how hard they try.

Some bands just have 'IT' ! and the 60ft Dolls had it in spades.