Britpop legends Supergrass have announced their reformation, plus a new Greatest Hits collection and live dates, Getintothis’ Steven Doherty feels more than alright about it.
Formed back in 1993 from the embers of their previous band The Jennifers, Oxford funsters Supergrass have announced details of their reformation, a new 13-CD deluxe, career-spanning box-set and a full 2020 UK tour.
Singer Gaz Coombes, bassist Mick Quinn and drummer Danny Goffey were always seen as one of Britpop’s most endearing and long-lasting success stories, ever since they bounded onto the scene in the form of their first two singles Caught By The Fuzz and Mansize Rooster, their first of their 10 UK Top 20 singles.
Their debut album I Should Coco was a number one smash, selling over one million copies worldwide whilst spending almost a year in the charts.
However, in keeping with most of the bands of the day, it was one of their weaker songs that turned out to be their most well-known hit.
Alright was omnipresent at the time of its release, primarily thanks to it’s utterly catchy chorus and wacky video, all bicycles and sideburns.
Their innocent, youthful cheeky charm was getting them noticed in the highest of places, there were even rumours that Steven Spielberg was to make a film about them, in the style of The Monkees.
So, when the second album In It For The Money was released, it was quite the shock at what a comedown it was compared to the cheeriness of the debut.
After a few listens, it became apparent that it was a touch moody in parts, but still brilliant as a whole.
More thrilling singles splurged forward from it, in the shape of Going Out, Late In The Day, Sun Hits The Sky and their joint highest chart placed single Richard III, which peaked at number 2 as did Alright.
Videos were always important to their continued success, reaching the pinnacle for the lead single from their 1999 self-titled album, Pumping On Your Stereo, was helped massively by the Muppets influenced promo.
In 2002 they officially added a new member in the shape of keyboardist Rob Coombes, Gaz’s older brother, even though he had played on all the albums, as well as appearing with them live.
This was ahead of their last truly great album Life On Other Planets which landed in 2002. The law of diminishing returns may have kicked in by then, but it still featured some high quality singles in the form of Grace and Never Done Nothing Like That Before.
Their fifth studio album Road To Rouen was a much more mellow and reflective record which garnered them their best reviews in many a year, but this maturity was not being universally accepted by their fan base, who missed the chirpiness of their earlier releases.
Following the release of 2008’s underwhelming and underperforming Diamond Hoo-Ha, they were back in the studio to record album number seven.
However, signs began to emerge that all was not well in the Supergrass camp.
No Mick. You’re the problem.
— Danny Goffey (@DannyGoffey) November 18, 2009
And so in 2010, prior to the release of the part recorded and still unreleased album, which would have been entitled Release The Drones, they announced their split.
The one thing that had remained through this rocky period was that they still maintained their immaculate reputation as a splendid live proposition, always an absolute joy, and they fittingly went out in the shape of a handful of farewell gigs.
They turned to their own projects.
Goffey had launched his own band Van Goffey in 2006, as well as partnering Gaz Coombes in cover band sideline The Hotrats.
Quinn formed the DB Band as well as becoming a permanent member of Swervedriver.
Gaz Coombes also began a solo career which continues on in fine fettle alongside the reunion already bearing the fruit of a high quality pair of albums Here Come The Bombs and the Mercury Music Prize nominated Matador.
Supergrass are back. The band are performing across the UK, Europe and North America in 2020.
Tickets go on sale on Friday 13 September 9AM BST but a very limited number of tickets will be available via this link from Wednesday 11 September 9AM BST https://t.co/xTZbYTBuBu pic.twitter.com/HLMoe2Xy5L
— Supergrass (@SupergrassHQ) September 9, 2019
They have always seemed to remain on good terms, always maintaining through interviews that one day they would return, and it seems that the 25 year anniversary of the beginning was the perfect catalyst.
Rumours were abound for months before the official announcement, which happened on the day of their comeback gig at the annual Pilton Party, fuelling murmurings of a probable Glastonbury 2020 appearance.
They have clearly stated that this is just a nostalgia trip, just playing the old songs with no plans to create anything new.
We live in hope though, and to celebrate their return, we look back fondly at ten of their finest ever moments.
10. Seen The Light from Life On Other Planets, 2002
Proof that the later singles (in parts) had all the energy of the earlier releases.
This contains a great Presley-esque “thank you very much” as Coombes maintains that he’s “a rock’ n ‘roll singer in a rock ‘n ‘roll band”.
Indeed he is.
9. Lenny from I Should Coco, 1995
It’s a credit to the greatness of the opening salvo of tunes on I Should Coco that this blast of pop malevolence doesn’t appear till track six.
It’s short sharp attack never fails to thrill.
A much under-rated stonker of a single.
8. I’d Like To Know from I Should Coco, 1995
Possibly Britpop’s greatest ever opening track to a debut album (yeah, take that Rock ‘N Roll Star).
Talk about a statement of intent, it’s mention of “where the strange ones go” is a recurring theme on the record and a large part of the Supergrass manifesto.
The ghostly organ sounds in the last minute of this song are one of life’s genuine delights.
7. Mama & Papa from Supergrass, 1999
But they weren’t all purely about seeking the pop thrill.
Supergrass could also offer a softer side, and there was none as sweet as this album closer.
It’s a simple couple of minutes, dripping with melancholy, it aches and is glorious.
6. Going Out from In It For The Money, 1997
The deluxe box-set that they are about to release is also to be released in the form of a straightforward one CD Best Of.
Bafflingly, this isn’t on it.
It reached the Top Five in the charts, serving as the introduction to their heavier side on release and it’s omission is the sort of thing that people should start petitions about.
5. Pumping On Your Stereo from Supergrass, 1999
Their almost nostalgic nod to back to the first album.
This clap-along classic had a compelling video and a catchy chorus laden with harmonies.
Inexplicably, only reached number 11 in the charts, even though it was born to be a proper hit.
4. Richard III from In It For The Money, 1997
Hard to believe that this is over 20 years old.
Their second number two single, this piece of supreme guitar pop was unbelievably kept off the top spot by the interminable I Believe I Can Fly by R Kelly.
If only we knew then what we know now.
3. Grace from Life On Other Planets, 2002
Arguably their last truly great single, this swirling piece of utter fun has all of the trademarks that made Supergrass a band to cherish.
A chorus to die for, some psychedelic elements, it’s all here.
It’s hard to believe that we don’t have a 2019 equivalent.
2. Caught By The Fuzz from I Should Coco, 1995
Where it all begin.
Although it didn’t make the Top 40 on release, it was the absolute epitome of the shape of things to come, everything that followed evolved from this.
To be played loud and often, an angry, snotty classic.
1. Mansize Rooster from I Should Coco, 1995
And following the above on the sublime I Should Coco is this stomper.
Two minutes and 35 seconds can not be spent in a better fashion than to listen to this.
It’s the perfect pop single, there’s not a wasted note on it. It arrives fully formed.
It brought comparisons with Madness when it was released and it’s easy to see why, both being immaculate singles band, this being the high watermark.
I must have listened this song at least once a week ever since 1995, and not once has it not lifted my mood and gladdened my heart.