I remember bring a kid and seeing all the sixties bands releasing collections and best ofs and blah blah collections and I thought “That will never happen to my bands!”, all of my faves seemed of their time and never to be Classics or Nostalgia. Now in 2020, Suede have a massive collectors edition set which is great, Manic Street Preachers have rereleased most of their classics as double deluxe deals and now Menswe@r have a boxset. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE. The thing is, I have not become a nostalgia hound, I love today’s music and have lots of records I am looking forward to, but occasionally it is nice to see your favourite songs return.
Menswe@r, then, let’s talk history. I first met them doing a signing session in Solo Music, Exeter, the week Nuisance arrived. They were all much cooler than me and their record was incredible. I bought all the singles, they were, along with Suede, Blur and MSP, one of the best b-sides bands ever. The first time I saw them live was in my local fave The Cavern Club in Exeter, supported by Powder and they were on fire. Johnny Dean put his mic stand through the ceiling and from that day I wanted to be on that stage under the hole. My band Console headlined a few times and each time I pointed to the ceiling and thought of my heroes. Magic. Next time I saw them was at the Lemon Grove, bigger crowd, bigger reaction, still magic. Girl I loved wearing a Nuisance shirt. First time I heard the sophomore record Hay Tiempo, was in The Good Mixer with my dad. We’d stopped in for a drink on our yearly London tour, and the jukebox had the only jukebox CD version in the country, I’m guessing, I sat down with Johnny Dean and Graham Coxon and my dad chatted to Stuart Black “A lovely young man” as he later exclaimed.
When did I get my own version of the classic second album? About a year later, travelling up to the capital again, Tower Records which had been selling Hay Tiempo for 33.99 now had it for 3.99. I grabbed it quick (pre-Spotify, Internet, kids!) and when I took it to the till the guy behind the counter took a second look and said “THE Menswe@r?” and we geeked out together. how quickly a massive band had become a cult hit.
Now…2020, that second album, the superb Hay Tiempo gets its first UK release. It still sounds magical, the best parts are The Byrds meet The Beach Boys with a dash of Big Star. Essentially everything Teenage Fanclub had wanted to emulate. It is NOT a ‘lost Britpop’ album though as the sticker might suggest, it is a fantastic California dreaming record. I’m guessing it may have confused people at the time, looking for a quick dance and a snog at the disco and getting Dennis Wilson magic in their lugholes. I still love it.
Nuisance is still a 10/10 record and has never sounded bigger or better. The stroppiest, hardest, most on fire collection of Britpop classics. Many bands of the period could easily toss out a 2 minute single but the albums never reached those heights. Nuisance jumped those heights like Superman in a three piece suit. Incredible.
The A-Sides and B-Sides disc is another 10/10 piece of magic. Some of my favourite songs ever are here – Gentleman Jim, Now Is The Hour, We Love You. Incredible. This was the version of classic track This Will Be Our Year that I heard first, so I also have the Swear to thank for my love of The Zombies that came afterwards.
Rareties And Demos is another great collection, this time the original version of our favourite Nuisance tracks, an incredible original version of We Love You and finally, for someone who had the Childline album on tape, a CD version of Barry Manilow’s ‘Can’t Smile Without You’. Still fantastic. Then there are a bunch of demos from the HT sessions, which are incredible, a whole bunch of sunshine-blurred Byrds-esque songs, each of which lifts your heart a little higher. Magical.
So there you go, 1995 is now 2020, everything is very different but one of my favourite bands from that period have released a boxset that shines like gold. I’m so happy that this exists, sometimes music from the past loses its shine, but in this case, I’m still a daydreamer for this love.