So it’s the beginning of 1994 and with the royal death of the Madchester scene still being felt we find our music horizons looking quite fruitful (even though we didn’t know it at the time). As par of the course that is the British music industry we find the local music magazines with front issues with spikey, skinny speed snorting indie bands being touted as the “New wave of the new wave”. Was it all going to end horribly? Or was it going to turn into something more beautiful?
Bands like Shed Seven, Elastica, S*M*A*S*H, Manta ray and Echobelly who were all emerging in 1994 suddenly started being touted as the New wave of the New Wave, but there was one band who never get the recognition they deserve. This band was Britpop before it was called its namesake, some people call the new wave scene of 1994 “Britpop but without the good bits”. But if you listen closely you will hear bands that were trying something radically different that had been heard in the Madchester scene from a couple of years before. But today I would like to bring your attention to one band who was at the start of it all and who are seldom mentioned.
I would like to introduce……. These Animal Men.
Forming in 1990 they gained interest with their early singles that depicted young angst, drug references and boners! Eyebrows were first raised with the single Speed King was released raised with its front cover showing a dinner plate full of a white suspicious powder with straws stuck in it, this didn’t go down too well in my local Our Price. For a time my world was filled with Adidas tracksuit tops, gazelles and punky bands wearing Skinny leather jackets (I’m a chunk so take skinny with a pinch of salt). The first time I heard them was the single Speed King with all its drug references spunky distorted guitar and “am I bovered?” Vocal style. With a sound that would be sadly lacking in other bands in later years it sounded totally stripped of production and sounded like a one take recording. Taking references from the new wave era of the late 70’s and early 80s but also the mod movement of the 60’s we find a band that never stopped for breath and with their debut album (Come On, Join) the High Society we find an album crammed with songs that burst with enthusiasm and youth. Supercharged indie rock was the way forward and with a performance on Top of the Pops performing Speed King the future look bright for the band but then something happened …… Britpop!
As with quite a few bands of the era when the music press get bored they attack! And this is what happed to the band and the papers announced the demise of the new wave scene that they so called created. Britpop was king and would rule for the next four years and the band knew this and adapted to the scene change and would go on to release their second album Accident and Emergency in 1997. With a new sound and a new outlook we find the band with a distinctive rockier, more glam soundscape and a band who have reinvented themselves to fit in with the current music scene. But alas the music press was gunning for them once again and gave the new album poor reviews and continued to slate them with the same lines that they used when the band first came on to the scene.
This was the fate of many bands of the era, many say it was the fact that the scene was flooded with mediocre bands and sound-alikes. I completely disagree, I have always blamed the music press for the demise of Britpop and the loss of many bands who should have shined and been given the chance to grow. Like many bands These Animal Men disbanded and would be forever be written about on music blogs just like this one.
Do yourself a favour and hunt down both albums and you will find a band who were forerunners of one of the most exciting parts of British music since the 60’s. You can also do yourself another favour and NEVER read what is printed about bands, if you like the sound of something then welcome it with open ears and don’t get bogged down in the music presses babble!