small blue flowers


living like this is a full time business

Aged 16 I was every britpop cliché you could imagine. I had messy bobbed hair with a big floral clip, dresses your granny wouldn't wear, orthopaedic looking shoes (or green adidas gazelles) and a quite frankly amazing array of plastic jewellery. I had the glitter and the plastic coat. My style icon was Manda from bis. I owned a superman t-shirt and actually went to see Kula Shaker. I was pretty tragic on reflection.

Britpop and the mid nineties hold a special place in my heart that I will freely admit is deep rooted in nostalgia and when I was 16 the most exciting thing to happen ever was the release of Trainspotting. Directed by the painfully cool Danny Boyle based on the novel by Irvine Welsh Trainspotting is one of those cultural milestones that defines an era. It is so 1996 it hurts.

When a film is based on a book I would rather read the book first pretty much every time before watching it. I haven't read Trainspotting I have to confess. I saw it in the Oxfam in Palmers Green the other day and debated for all of half a minute whether or not to buy it before passing. Maybe I'm missing something but Welsh's style grates on me a little. A wise man once told me that it's annoying reading writing in a local dialect and I had to agree. Because he's wise. Irvine Welsh writes in a Scottish accent and it can be very difficult to penetrate sometimes. The last thing I want as I'm trying to read myself to sleep is to have to read words out loud to figure out what the hell they mean. The only Welsh book I have ever read is Filth and for me this was a trial. Not solely for the dialect issue but largely because I thought it wasn't very good. I'm not a precious girl and am fully aware there is a dark and seedy life out there. I can understand the value of writing about this as much as the blossoming romance between two star crossed lovers. IF, and this is a big if, it is done for a good purpose. I've read some nasty books, hell, I've read 120 days of Sodom cover to cover and wasn't as irritated as I was when I read Filth. If it was designed to shock it didn't, I found the shopping list of graphic violence and dirty sex to be more tedious than anything.

So this is why I avoided reading Trainspotting.

Harsh? Maybe, but I like the film. I'd rather not have it tainted.

At the time of it's release the film was surrounded by controversy for allegedly glamorising heroin addiction. Although, on reflection, anyone who saw any glamour in the depravity that Renton and his band of not so merry men sunk to is a weird puppy, and possibly some sort of kinky submissive. In research for this post I read that police in Canada bought up tickets to showing of this film and handed them out to youths to act as a deterrent against substance abuse. That's what I'm talking about. This film pulls no punches and despite the cool and comedic aspects provides a gritty and stark insight into the life of an addict.

I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who need reasons when you've got heroin?

There are two volumes to the Trainspotting soundtrack because there is a ton of music in the film. It punctuates the coolness consistently. Whilst, no doubt, the instantly recognisable tracks in association with Trainspotting are Iggy Pop's Lust For Life, Lou Reed's Perfect Day and Underworld's Born Slippy, it is not these songs that I want to talk about. If I'm honest, Iggy Pop terrifies me (so stringy!), Lou Reed I don't really understand and I'm a bit sick of chavs shouting "lager lager" at every available opportunity. No, I want to go back to Britpop.

Blur were one of the bands of the britpop era I didn't get into until after britpop had died out. I wasn't interested in the big big house in the country and I didn't really give two hoots for the blur vs oasis drama. However, at an indie club many moons back when Steve Lamacq was doing his monthly DJ set I won two tickets to Leeds festival by sticking my name in a hat. One of the headline acts was Blur. My companion was more interested in this than I was and not relishing wandering round on my own that evening I went to watch them and was truly put in my place. I still hold no fondness for early Blur but they have some extremely inspired moments. Damon Albarn is a smarter bloke than I gave him credit for and whilst you would think Graham Coxon would have been the interesting one after Blur the most interesting music has come from Albarn. That dusky summers evening many moons ago, somewhere in a field in leeds, they closed their set with the contribution to the trainspotting (volume one) soundtrack. The truly sublime Sing.

So what's the worth in all of this
What's the worth in all of this

Sing to me

Blur - Sing

On the other hand, Pulp were a band I loved from the get go. Retro chic with lyrical poetry that make the (incredibly boring and over-rated) Arctic Monkeys look like a bunch of dribbling goons. Pulp sold me on a lifestyle. It's music that is urban living, it's working class, it's seedy and it's sexy but above all you can really wiggle about to it. Different Class was Pulps defining album with tracks like Disco 2000 and the super catchy indie anthem Common People capturing the imagination of just about everyone. Jarvis Cocker: skinny, bespectacled, arse waggling front man, is intelligent, literate and bloody charismatic. Also worth a mention is the album His 'n Hers with tracks like Babies and Lipgloss which seem to totally encompass, to my mind, what Pulp are all about. I've lived in Sheffield, it's not the most exciting of cities and if you flick through the photo's on the Pulp website of what Sheffield was like around the time of the bands formation you can truly visualise the atmosphere surrounding the music. Pulp didn't join a scene, Pulp were their own scence. You have a leadsinger who merrily swung his backside at Michael Jacksons self indulgent awards performance, you have some severe haircuts and a keyboardist with a name somewhat like a veneral disease. I love Pulp. The Pulp contribution to the trainspotting soundtrack stays true to their style and has a strong resonance with the film, it's a mess alright, yes it's Mile End.

I guess you have to go right down
Before you understand just how
how low
how low a human being can go

Pulp - Mile End

Buy: Trainspotting DVD / Book / Soundtrack Volume One / Soundtrack Volume Two

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Blogger Jamie said...

Sing....Thats as early blur as you can get, surely!

8:39 pm  

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