March 01, 2014


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Ocean Colour Scene - Revisited

"If there's a movement then I'm going to sway - get a piece of the action." Ocean Colour Scene's self titled 1992 debut is a much neglected, often ignored, almost forgotten by the public at large, flawed gem. Re-mastered and recently re-released (in conjunction with the band themselves) alongside their more notable third 'Marchin' Already', OCS (as we'll call it for the sake of brevity) suffers somewhat for the era that saw it's release. The product of three different producers after initial choice Jimmy Miller (and what a choice that would have been) withdrew, the album is patchy but points to what is to come. Baggy beats and the au current vaguely neo psychedelic wah guitars hold sway (Sway? See what I did there? Title of the 'big' single from the album? No? Please yourselves) but are coloured here and there with backwards lead guitar, phased drums and fine harmony vocals. The result, at it's best, is a dreamy take on the nineties meet the sixties with an interestingly Floydian feel to it. The promise is present but it needs time to grow. They could be early Blur or they could be The Real People, they're not quite themselves yet. 'Sway' is still utterly majestic though.

'Marchin' Already' is much more the Ocean Colour Scene that spring to mind at the mention of their name. The follow up to the successful (and career defining Mosely Shoals) it was their first Number One album and big enough to depose Oasis' 'Be Here Now' from that position. Reputedly Liam Gallagher sent the band a plaque to acknowledge this achievement with the inscription 'To The Second Best Band In Britain'. Guitarist Steve Cradock's supposed response? "It's an honour to be described as Britain's second best band, ahead of Oasis but behind the Beatles". The album itself deserves that acclaim - endlessly inventive, filled with creativity - the band's influences colour their work throughout; a touch of Small Faces, some Motown basslines, a slice of Traffic, Kinksian social commentary and some Beatles ambition add up to a work that quite notably actually sounds more impressive now than at the time of its success. The propulsion of 'Hundred Mile High City' (better riff than 'Riverboat Song'? I'm saying so) and melancholy of 'Better Day' set the tone for the work as a whole, while 'Traveller's Tune' revisited from its original B-Side status pulls in a guest appearance from the legendary P.P. Arnold. We're three tracks in at this point. All show up the sheer, incredible level of fretwork that Cradock contributes to the album while Simon Fowler channels his inner Marriot throughout.

  Both albums come with the excellent array of extras that you would expect from a deluxe rerelease; B-Sides, radio sessions, alternate versions - OCS gets the original version of 'Sway' and the unreleased single version of 'One Of THose Days'

Marchin' Already is served in a super deluxe version with a live DVD of August 1998's Stirling Castle gig and a set from earlier that year at Manchester Apollo that takes the production techniques away from the work, focusses on a muscular live act in full flight at the peak of their powers and ends on a fine version of The Small Faces' 'Song of A Baker' "Don't you want a piece of the action?"

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