The NME, particularly in the late 70s, 80s and 90s, was seen as the weekly bulletin of all things indie-music. It was their championing of the music to be found on small labels that helped lead to the establishment of the UK Independent Singles and Albums Charts in 1980 and for many years these listings did mirror the contents of the paper as well as much of what you’d also find in Melody Maker, Record Mirror and Sounds (albeit the latter did lean more towards rock/metal than the others).
I previously had a feature on the blog which looked at past #1 singles in the Indie Chart from 10,20 and 30 years past, but gave up on it when it became clear too many of the best sellers were actually on major labels taking advantage of loopholes around the definition of an indie label. It’s just as well I never got round to focussing on 1993 as there’s barely a guitar or a floppy fringe to be found:-
2 January – 12 January : The Shamen – Phorever People
23 January – 29 January : The Beloved – Sweet Harmony
30 January – 26 March : 2 Unlimited – No Limit
27 March – 7 May : Snow – Informer
8 May – 21 May : 2 Unlimited – Tribal Dance
22 May – 16 July : Inner Circle – Sweat (a la la la la long)
17 July – 30 July : The Levellers – Belaruse
31 July – 6 August : Stan – Suntan
7 August – 27 August : Daniel O’Donnell – Whatever Happened to Old Fashioned Love
28 August – 3 September : Ian Wright – Do The Right Thing
4 September – 24 September : 2 Unlimited – Faces
25 September – 1 October : Depeche Mode – Condemnation
2 October – 22 October : DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Boom! Shake The Room
23 October – 29 October : The Prodigy – One Love
30 October – 3 December : The Goodmen – Give It Up
4 December – 10 December : Bjork – Big Time Sensuality
11 December – 17 December : 2 Unlimited – Maximum Overdrive
18 December – 24 December : New Order – Spooky
25 December – 18 February 1994 : K7 – Come Baby Come
And yes, the indie #1 of 28 August 1993 is the work of ex-footballer Ian Wright….. …..I can’t ever recall hearing it and really don’t want to. The most astonishing thing about the song isn’t that Wright penned the pun-laden lyric but that the tune was composed by Chris Lowe, one half of the classy and stylish Pet Shop Boys.
Thankfully, the paper didn’t rely on the charts when it came to it listing the best 50 singles from 1993 with the roll-call featuring a fair smattering from those who have graced this little corner of t’internet as well as some from the dance/pop genre:-
Animals That Swim, The Auteurs, Belly, Bjork, Blur, The Boo Radleys, The Breeders, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Collapsed Lung, Compulsion, Cornershop, Credit To The Nation, The Disco Evangelists, Dodgy, Done Lying Down, East 17, Elastica, Huggy Bear, Ice Cube, The Juliana Hatfield Trio, Leftfield/Lydon, The Lemonheads, M People, Manic Street Preachers, Naughty by Nature, New Order, One Dove, Paul Weller, Pet Shop Boys, R.E.M., Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Sabres of Paradise, Secret Knowledge, Senser, Shaggy, Shara Nelson, Smashing Pumpkins, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Spiritualized, St Etienne, Sub Sub, Suede, Tindersticks, Ultramarine.
I had to look up some of those listed, including the first in the alphabetical list.
Animals That Swim are still, seemingly, kicking around having had an on/off career over the past quarter of a century. The band has always been centred around three brothers – Hugh Barker, Hank Starrs (born Jeffrey Barker) and Al Barker, along with Del Crabtree whose trumpet playing has always been central to the sound. They have gone through bass players in a way that is reminiscent of the way a struggling football club gets itself new managers, with the best-known being Terry de Castro (2000/01) either side of her membership of Cinerama and The Wedding Present.
The single which featured in the NME 93 rundown was just their second release, and it took the form of an imaginary conversation with the ghost of a famous singer:-
mp3 : Animals That Swim – Roy
Having tracked it down, I found myself beguiled and delighted by it. More so when I stumbled across this review of debut album Workshy from 1994:-
“Literate, trumpet-assisted indie-pop for the left brain; shaggy-dog songs that concern fleeting alco-epiphanies and dying pensioners; when Starrs writes a love song (Madame Yevonde), it is to an obscure photography pioneer of the 20s and 30s.”
It really does sound very interesting. Any reader out there able to shine a further light and offer a guest post?