Alt School: British Indie - Part 1


Despite being an English teenager throughout the 1990’s, and one who listened to Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley’s Evening Session most weeks, the British Indie scene never really stuck with me. Sure, there were the occasional Longpigs or Suedes that piqued my interest, but I pretty much stuck to the path of American Grunge to Brit-Rock, with the occasional stopover in the land of Trip Hop during the time when most of my peers were obsessing over Gene, or extoling the virtues of The Happy Mondays.

Looking back now, it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. Why was I so grasped by a scene from the other side of the Atlantic when there was a real musical renaissance happening right under my nose? Well, I can answer that, actually. It’s because of Ian Brown. I hated all that ‘Madchester’ stuff, which for me lacked the emotional resonance of the stuff tickling my fancy from the other side of the pond. British indie just seemed so cold, aloof, too cool for its own good. So I never bothered with it.

But, since this whole Alt. School enterprise is about getting to know those facets of alternative music that I’m not familiar with, this is an area I can’t really ignore. It is not, I’ll admit, something I’m hugely looking forward to.

So, to the list. Culled from a few different sources, most notably a list of 50 British Indie releases on Mojo. That had a load of singles on it, so I’ve fleshed it out with a few other sources, and suggestions from my Good Lady Mrs Her Indoors, who is much more well-versed in this area of music history than I am. Also, I’ve taken the decision to carry on from the Alt. Hip Hop list and only include music that was actually indie, as in, independently released. I’ve tried to be quite strict on that, too, and not included bands who were on offshoot indies that were actually just major labels wanting to hit up the more-credible ‘indie’ charts. Hence, no Manic Street Preachers, Longpigs, or Pulp albums I might actually recognise. Shame, I would have quite liked an excuse to listen to The Holy Bible again. Wait, I don’t actually need an excuse, do I?

Here’s the list. I suspect there’ll be a few of you wanting to argue vociferously over some of the inclusions and the exclusions, so feel free to sound off in the comments, but I have to tell you the Spotify playlist is already locked and loaded. Should you be interested in following along you can find it here. There’s a lot on there I don’t know, a few I do, and a few I suspect will be like pouring fire ants into my ear canals. Join me, won’t you, to see if I can make it through it in one piece.

  1. The Delgados – The Great Eastern
  2. James – Stutter
  3. Camera Obscura – Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi
  4. Half Man Half Biscuit – Back in the D.H.S.S/The Trumpton Riots E.P
  5. The Pooh Sticks – Optimistic Fool
  6. Ride – Nowhere
  7. Saint Etienne – So Tough
  8. The Sea Urchins – Stardust
  9. Elastica – Elastica
  10. The Wedding Present – George Best
  11. New Order – Movement
  12. The Libertines – The Libertines
  13. Stereolab – Peng!
  14. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
  15. Aztec Camera – High Land, Hard Rain
  16. Happy Mondays – Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches
  17. The Pastels – Up For A Bit With The Pastels
  18. Teenage Fanclub – Bandwagonesque
  19. Echo & the Bunnymen – Porcupine
  20. The House Of Love – The German Album
  21. Primal Scream – Screamadelica
  22. The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
  23. The La’s – The La’s
  24. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
  25. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
  26. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
  27. The Fall – Grotesque (After The Gramme)
  28. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy
  29. The Smiths – The Smiths
  30. Oasis – Definitely Maybe
  31. Blur – The Great Escape
  32. The Verve – A Northern Soul
  33. Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With the Arab Strap
  34. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
  35. Pulp – Separations
  36. Suede – Dog Man Star
  37. Babybird – Dying Happy
  38. Curve – Doppelganger
  39. The Sundays – Reading Writing and Arithmetic
  40. Cocteau Twins – Heaven Or Las Vegas
  41. The Horrors – Primary Colours
  42. Editors – The Back Room
  43. Spiritualized – Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
  44. Mogwai – Young Team
  45. British Sea Power – The Decline of British Sea Power
  46. The Field Mice – Snowball
  47. Flying Saucer Attack – Flying Saucer Attack
  48. Pale Saints – The Comforts of Madness
  49. Slowdive – Souvlaki
  50. The Charlatans – Up to Our Hips

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