(Originally posted on the old blog on 24 May 2013)
I’ve a fair few CD singles and a couple of albums released by Gene during their existence, but they were a never a band which grabbed my undivided attention at any time.
For a short time they were hailed as the next great thing by a fair chunk of the UK music press and this is what made me a little wary. But on reflection, I’m more than happy to acknowledge that they released some cracking songs in their time, many of which have aged way better than many of the better known songs by their better known peers from the Britpop era in the late 90s.
If you’re not familiar with too much of their material, it’s well worth picking up the 2001 ‘best of’ compilation As Good As It Gets (released by the major label that they had not long departed from) which brings together most of the 45s and some of their most popular tunes.
You can find on said compilation two of the three tracks I’ve picked out for today. They were originally part of the band’s second ever single, released in August 1994, and which made #54 in the UK singles charts. The last of the flops in some ways as the next ten singles would all make the Top 40.
mp3 : Gene – Be My Light, Be My Guide
mp3 : Gene – This Is Not My Crime
mp3 : Gene – I Can’t Help Myself
It’s the latter of the two b-sides which is included in the ‘best of’ compilation and when you give it a listen, it’s no real surprise. It really is a song wasted as a b-side as it was more than strong enough to be a single release in its own right, but Gene were always a band, similar to The Smiths and Suede, who wanted to make each single something a bit special and so would ensure the b-sides were all killer and no filler.
But as much as I love the original version of I Can’t Help Myself, it can’t hold a candle to a later version recorded for BBC Radio 1 and which came to my attention thanks to its inclusion on a free cassette given away with a monthly music magazine. It would later feature on the 1996 release To See The Lights which consisted of rarities, live tracks and acoustic versions of singles:-
mp3 : Gene – I Can’t Help Myself (Radio 1 Session)