Supergrass Perform ‘I’d Like to Know’

Listen to this song by Brit-pop brats Supergrass with the opening salvo of their 1995 debut album, I Should Coco. Warning: this tune rocks like a bastard, the bastard’s brother, his bastard wife, his layabout bastard brother-in-law (who’s between jobs right now…),  his seven bastard children, and any collection of bastards unrelated to him in his postal code.

In my experience, Brit-pop bands are not universally loved, even among fans of that particular scene.  A lot of people found the contrived cockney-isms of Blur to be tiresome.   Some couldn’t stand Suede frontman Brett Anderson’s poor man’s Bowie.  And Oasis?  That’s a whole other post.  But, I find that almost everyone likes Supergrass (I can only think of one exception in my immediate circle who doesn’t…).  I think it might be because they seem to draw from the same classic British influences as their peers.  Yet, they’ve managed to present them in such a way that it’s very hard to pinpoint exactly which ones.

From left: bassist Mickey Quinn, guitarist/vocalist Gaz Coombes, and drummer Danny Goffey. Gaz’s keyboardist brother Rob was an unoffical member only until recently, although he’s been a featured player on all of their albums.

The first time I heard this tune,  I was sitting on the floor of a friend’s living room  wondering how in god’s name they could pack that many riffs into one song without it sounding cluttered.  And this is clearly rock ‘n’ roll, yet of what variety?  There’s some punk in there – I think.  And some 70s glam too – maybe.  Also, a dash of 60s jam-rock, with keyboardist Rob Coombes mashing down the keys like Ray Manzarek crossed with the Roadrunner.  And even if it isn’t cluttered, it’s totally over the top.  But, it’s over the top in a good way.

Supergrass would evolve, and almost fifteen years later (!), they’ve maintained a steady output of solid records.  This is from their first album, and the music represented is very much in a Brit-pop vein.  But by their second, they were looking to escape the label since it was antiquated even two years after .  That follow-up, We’re In It For the Money, is respected by many as their best.  But, there’s something about the tunes on this debut which just shimmer with first-album enthusiasm of a band bursting with ideas and the skills to bring them off.

For more about Supergrass, check out the official Supergrass website.


[UPDATE: Nov 24, 2015: To learn more about this phase in the life of Supergrass, take a read of this article that tells the tale of how I Should Coco was made]

Supergrass Perform “Tales of Endurance pts 4, 5, & 6”

Here’s a clip of former Oxfordian cheeky monkeys-turned Brit-rock defenders Supergrass with the lead track from their excellent and underappreciated 2005 Road to Rouen album, “Tales of Endurance pts 4, 5, & 6”. This clip is from a live show from Brazil, framing this song and the band themselves as a cross-section of all the best in British rock music from the 60s to the present day.

Supergrass debuted in 1995 with their just-in-time-for-Brit-pop album I Should Coco, which featured the hits “Caught By The Fuzz” and the effervescent “Alright”, the video for which caught the attention of one Steven Speilberg, who was interested in basing a TV show around Supergrass, not unlike a kind of 90s Monkees.  The creation of a follow up album however took precedence, and the band turned Speilberg down.

It’s hard to imagine how their career would have gone if they’d decided to accept Speilberg’s offer.  But, it’s even harder to imagine life without the follow up, ironically titled We’re In It For The Money, which is arguably the best album of their impressive list of good records.  Where that record certainly has some undeniable tracks, many of their follow-up albums do as well. From their debut, they managed to mature from cheeky chappies to creating work with a bit more depth. A dynamic live act, Supergrass were a trio for many years, with unofficial contributor Rob Coombes adding keyboards.  By Road to Rouen, Rob was in the band along with guitarist/frontman brother Gaz Coombes, bassist Mickey Quinn, and drummer Danny Goffey.

I really think this record is one of their best, slightly moody, and very ambitiously arranged.   This song kicks things off well, building the track from an acoustic guitar strum to a full-on rock out barrage.  At  just over 35 minutes, it never outstays its welcome, which is endemic of a lot of good albums these days which would otherwise by great albums.

Supergrass have a knack for being both a singles band, and an albums band, which is no small feat, appealing to casual music fans, and serious geeks like me in different, yet equal, ways.  And as mentioned, they have the balance to be able to incorporate a list of influences from the annals of British classic rock music – Marc Bolan, the Stones, the Small Faces, The Kinks – while still establishing their own identity, which may be an even harder feat.

For more music and news, check out the Supergrass MySpace page.