In 1994, just as I celebrated my 21st birthday , a record was released that captured all the joy of being young, the thrill of knowing that the future was yours, the delights of nights on the town, and the magnificence of what pop music at its best can give you.
That record was “Trouble” by Shampoo.
One of the greatest singles of the Britpop era.
It came at the same time as music journalists across the country had decided that the future of pop music was the past.
In an article in the NME in July of 1994, Sylvia Patterson wrote this:
“Whatever it is about being young and good looking and wearing fantastic silver suits and skipfuls of make-up, it’s all an affront to those do not understand POP, and there are lots of them about.”
Even more accurate were the words of Jacqui and Carrie themselves in the same piece:
“Everyone hates us,” shrugs Jacqui. “We’re used to it. People think what we look like is disgusting. Or sinister, especially if we wear short skirts and boots an’ stuff. They don’t want to see young people looking glamorous. They don’t understand anything.”
“Everyone just wants to look the same as everybody else, don’t they?” muses Carrie. “I don’t understand that at all.”
This is what the people who bray about how shit Shampoo were don’t get - they don’t understand that the real rebellion, the real punk attitude, the real spirit of teenage fury, lay not in some blokes in football manager coats, mouldy sneakers, and the haircut that the bloke from The Stone Roses had, it lay with two teenage girls who did not give a single fuck about what anyone thought about them.
Oasis with their The Beatles obsession, the classic trad rock delivery, and a terrace culture attitude that instantly excluded anyone who didn’t really want to end the evening with a bit of the old ultra violence and who thought that wishing AIDS on people you didn’t like was a bit of a rum.
If only the tastemakers at the NME and Melody Maker had put as much energy into covering Shampoo as they did into Oasis. What a wonderful world that would be. Songs you could dance to, lyrics you could giggle at, people you could relate to, arch/art pop of real craft and guile.
There were one or two dissenting voices of course, people like Simon Price, and the aforementioned Sylvia Patterson, who actually cared about pop music and who could see exactly what a future dominated by the influence of Oasis would mean for it. Price nailed it in 2021 when he tweeted: “Here’s what’s just struck me about Oasis: THEY HAVE NO FAST SONGS. They just lumber about, fat-arse and graceless, at 20mph because it’s a residential area. Music for people who can’t-dance-won’t-dance. They ARE rock but they DON’T rock. And what’s the fucking point in that?”
Two years on from that Noel Gallagher told the world this week: “I thought Blur, Pulp, The Stone Roses, The La’s, whoever, they were great people and they had one two great tunes, but we had twelve. However loud they were, we were louder. However fast they were, we were faster. However good they were, we would trump it.”
But if your measurement for greatness is faster and louder…leave me out.
I don’t care about who is louder, or faster, I care about dancing, laughing, finally living.
If you can’t see why a world where kids dressed like, and danced to, Shampoo, Plastic Fantastic, Orlando, and David Devant and His Spirit Wife is a better world than one where the legacy of Oasis has given us The Lathums, I can’t help you.
“Definitely Maybe” did at least had some swagger. It was big, brash, bold, and left you a bit battered and bruised by the time it ended. Of course things like “Cigarettes and Alcohol” were always destined to be on “Ultimate Fathers Day Football Anthems Ever Vol 37”, but there were moments where it flashed brightly; Shakermaker and Bring it on Down remain glorious. It was loud, in places, but it didn't sound like it wanted to be the loudEST. Instead it had what lots of great debut albums have, a sense of urgency, a feeling that this might be it, and so it better be as good as it could be. It isn’t a flawless album, it isn’t one of the greatest debut albums ever (no matter what people at Q and Rolling Stone would have you believe), but it is good.
But when “Morning Glory” arrived in 1995 any trace of that swagger had been completely erased, replaced with something that was the equivalent of Temazepam in vinyl form. It is the worst thing any music can be - boring.
From start to overblown finish it is the sound of someone who believes their own hype. An over-inflated ego running amok.
“Roll With It” and it’s Status Quo dressed in Stone Island drone.
The dirge that is “Don’t Look Back in Anger”.
The when it will end yawn of “Champagne Supernova”.
On and on these songs go.
Reaching the bottom of a barrel, already so scraped that you can see the ground underneath it, with “Wonderwall” - a song that is the aural equivalent of asking your mum for a glass of Coke and being handed some Creamola Foam instead. Disappointing. Infuriating. Flat. Stale.
There are moments when it cuts loose and delivers something slightly less pompous and po-faced, “Some Might Say” is good fun, and “She’s Electric” is so silly that you can’t help but smile. The problem is that those two moments of gay abandon amount to around 9 minutes of the album’s 50 minutes. Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?
The whole thing sounds exactly like the very thing it is…the musical ejaculations of a man who had spent the best part of a decade touring the world as a roadie, smoking a lot of dope, noodling on a guitar at the back of a bus, and growing increasingly convinced of his own brilliance, at the same time as he was becoming increasingly bitter about the fact that nobody else was noticing.
Nothing here is relatable to a kid.
Its success with young men had everything to do with the bravado and macho posturing of the two protagonists, and the emergence of lad “culture”, and very little to do with the songs painting any sort of portrait of the lives they were living.
In stark contrast almost every single word on Shampoo’s 1994 debut, “We Are Shampoo” tells a story that young people from Banff to Bristol could relate to.
“We’ve been out all night and we haven’t been home, we’re walking through the back streets all alone”
“We’re not done or down on our knees, it’s just begun, we can do what we please” “We’re such a cool sensation, what a creation, we are the last teenagers, the new front-pagers”
“Like the girls you mate, ain’t it great to be fake? Skinny white thing living’ in your own wet dream, you strut like a king and you pout like a queen”
“Shiny black, shiny black, shiny black taxi cab, when you’re throwing up your kebab, in a shiny taxi cab”
I mean, come on.
“Slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball”
There isn’t even any competition.
Who hasn’t been those kids in trouble, walking home, missing the night bus, knowing your parents are going to be furious?
Which teenager hasn’t believed their own hype and thought they could do just what they please?
How many youth movements hail themselves as the last teenagers and revel in being the latest front pagers?
Kebab in a cab?
These are songs about your life.
Are the people who wrote them, the people who performed them, able to tell you which guitar Johnny Marr played on the b-side to “What Difference Does it Make?” Probably not. But that’s a good thing, because people who can give you that information are fucking boring. And pop music must never be that.
People who get rock hard about the less than hard rock of “Morning Glory” and who sneer at Shampoo are the same people who think that playing golf on a Saturday morning is an acceptable way to spend the limited time they have on this miserable globe. “Morning Glory” is a round of golf, “We Are Shampoo” is a night on the town.
Take your pick.
I’ve made my choice.
Released on 2 October 1995 by Creation Records, (What's The Story) Morning Glory? was produced by Owen Morris and the group's lead guitarist and chief songwriter Noel Gallagher. The structure and arrangement style of the album was a significant departure from the band's previous album, Definitely Maybe (1994).