Old London Music: Seven Britpop Bands Who Didn’t Make It

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Photo by Londonist Flickr contributor buckaroo kid.

Recent interest in various Britpop 20th anniversaries, which strictly speaking should run until precisely May 2017, has caused us to wistfully recall the London bands who slipped through the cracks during the 1990s. Here’s a selection from that decade who didn’t quite manage to escape the ever-lustrous pull of Camden’s toilet-circuit venues to emulate Blur’s superstardom.

The Weekenders

What little information there is available about The Weekenders suggests that they were indeed from Camden itself, though it was another part of London that delivered the band their finest hour. Inelegantly Wasted In Papa’s Penthouse Pad In Belgravia is a fine indie-pop tune, but the band never made it bigger than a Melody Maker single of the week and a compilation of songs titled That Was Now But This Is Then. There’s actually another band called The Weekenders, but they’re from Salt Lake City so they’re dead to us.

Jocasta

Grandiose and bombastic, Jocasta formed in London in 1994 and put out just one album, in 1997. No Coincidence featured some genuinely excellent tracks including the singles Something To Say and Go, but sales were slim and the band broke up. Vocalist Tim Arnold subsequently embarked on a solo career as The Soho Hobo, whose works include the musical Secrets of Soho.

Llama Farmers

This band were an honest breath of fresh air when they emerged out of Greenwich in 1997. Truthfully, the name might have held them back, as despite their heady mix of powerful guitars and catchy tunes…they were called the bloody Llama Farmers for Pete’s sake. Listening back to Jessica now, it’s still remarkable that they managed just two albums before burning out.

Kinky Machine

Minor hits were the staple diet of Kinky Machine, fronted by Louis Eliot who would go on to very slightly greater success with Rialto. There was a measure of tongue-in-cheek about some of the songs on their laudable, eponymous debut album, Monkey On A String and Going Out With God among them. Their second, Bent, was a disappointment, but for the brilliant Ten Second Bionic Man (‘Over before it began…’)

Glitterbox

Please don’t take this as a criticism, but there’s something faintly Sterophonics about Glitterbox. They had the potential to be so much better than the troublesome Welshmen, as demonstrated in the wonderful Scared of All the World, from their only album, Tied & Tangled. A previous incarnation as She was just as good — if you can track down the single I Wanna Be Your Friend in a charity shop somewhere, you’ll reward yourself most highly.

Out of My Hair

It’s a nervous time for band members when a singer called Simon Eugene decides he’s going to be known by another name from now on, in this case ‘Comfort’. Nevertheless, Comfort & co from Camden managed one reasonable album in Drop The Roof, but more importantly one genuine gem of a single in In The Groove Again, a mostly acoustic number that’s damnably hard to get out of your head, or indeed your hair. According to Eugene’s website: “They were particularly successful in the Far East where Comfort was given his own Manga Cartoon Strip as Comfort the Spirit of Music.” Well, there you go.

Symposium

Perhaps the most likely of all these bands to have tasted true success, it just never seemed to happen for Shepherds Bush band Symposium, despite good press, an amazing live set and a collection of very good records. Many a moshpit-dwelling indie kid joyfully wrecked themselves and each other to Symposium’s infectious singles Drink the Sunshine and Farewell to Twilight, but after just one mini-album and one full LP, musical differences put an end to it. Two members of Symposium did at least find moderate success in post-hardcore band Hell Is For Heroes, though they too are no more.

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chrislockie

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  • suetpud

    Just realised…London bands. Apologies.