Chaval told the story last week of how The Auteurs sought to bounce back from the disappointment of a close-run thing with the 1993 Mercury Prize by recording and releasing an astonishing and surreal single that stalled at #41. He also highlighted just how good the b-sides were, all of which bore well for the release of the next album.
Prior to that, we were treated to another advance single. As was all the rage at the time, there were multiple formats – 2 x 7″ singles or 2 x CD singles offering up different choices for b-sides, with either a white or black picture sleeve.
This was another triumphant and superb piece of music, opening with a melancholic vocal and cello refering to someone from uptown going downtown to where the brokers and dealers socialise…and then the bass and guitars kick in with a fair amount of ferociousness. At any other time other than April 1994, this would have been given all sorts of column inches in the music press as the next essential element in how British indie pop music should be developing…..except that it was released about a month after Blur had experienced their first Top 10 hit with Girls & Boys and in the same week as the debut single by a new band called Oasis. Oh, and Suede were still riding high although there were rumours that Bernard Butler wasn’t entirely happy with his lot. In short, the media had enough to keep themselves occupied with concerning themselves about the views of Luke Haines.
Chinese Bakery stalled at #42. It was a tough one to take.
The white 7″ and CD single offered up two more outstanding cuts as b-sides, with the latter seeming to be a title for a Haines Manifesto :-
The black CD offered up one new acoustic song and an acoustic version of the new single:-
The following month, the album Now I’m A Cowboy hit the shops. Eleven biting, sarcastic, knowing and occasionally angry/resigned pieces of music, including the most recent two singles and a full band version of Modern History. It got rave reviews but it just didn’t really connect with the buying public, albeit it went Top 20 on the week of release. The problem was that it went down really quickly and the record label bosses despaired that it didn’t have any songs to compete with the happy-go-lucky stuff that was coming out of other parts of London and from Manchester. As Haines would relect many years later in Bad Vibes:-
Blur release their annoying Parklife album at approximately the same time as Now I’m A Cowboy. It sells 46 billion copies in Swindon alone and the world changes forever. From this point on anything that sells less than 46 billion is deemed a resounding failure. We are now on a different trajectory.
The coming weeks will show just how very different a trajectory was deliberately chosen……