National Brit Rock: Official Closure

by National Brit Rock editor Sam Skilton
Twelve months after the initiation of National Brit Rock, it is with regret that I officially announce that the project has come to its conclusion.
I attempted to attain advertising through WordAds, which is run by WordPress, but this never materialised, and as a result the huge time commitment in running a regularly updated website proved simply too much to continue.
I would like to thank all of the contributors to National Brit Rock, in addition to the 10,000+ visitors to this site over the past year, and hope that you have enjoyed the news, views, blogs and reviews which we have posted.
National Brit Rock and all of its content will remain online forever as a web page under the web address nationalbritrock.wordpress.com.
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Opinion Blog: Top Ten Ultimate Football Anthems

by Sam Skilton
If you’re a football fan you will undoubtedly have your favourite pre-match or half-time tune – cast your mind back and you’ll most likely be tucking into a burger/hotdog and chips when you hear it.
From the stands of some of the nation’s largest stadia, to the terraces of your local non-league club, here is a selection of the most commonly heard tracks from football grounds around the country.
Please Note: This is not a list of the Top Ten England Songs; this is a list of tracks which have inadvertently become football terrace anthems.
10. Hard-Fi – Bring It On
Hard-Fi’s third album ‘Killer Sounds’ may not have had the commercial success of their previous two which both went to number one in the UK Album Charts, but ‘Bring It On’ provided the intro for Sky Sports’ football coverage for the 2010/11 season and ever since then it has been a fan favourite. Last year the Staines band cemented their status as synonymous with football when they performed the ‘Living for the Weekend’ live on the pitch at Wembley Stadium before the 2012 FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Liverpool.
9. James – Sit Down
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why James’ most famous record ‘Sit Down’ grew to become the terrace anthem it did, but since 1989 it has been belting out of PA systems across the country. Adopted by football fans with baggy trousers, mop haircuts and Madchester record collections, the track is now synonymous with the sport.
8. Snow Patrol – In the End
Finally the BBC’s Football League Show has been given an opening theme tune which does it some kind of justice. Snow Patrol’s ‘In the End’ does the trick, although it’ll be some time before it reaches the heights that ‘Beautiful Day’ did over on ITV.
7. The Fratellis – Chelsea Dagger
I wonder just how many British football clubs have at some point played this song after scoring. My money is on at least a hundred. Released in August 2006, it has been a football ever-present since. It even has the name of one of the country’s biggest teams in the title.
6. The Enemy – Be Somebody
No 21st Century band has gone as hand-in-hand with football in recent times as these three lads from the Midlands. Coventry City fans The Enemy and their working class anthems have proved popular amongst football fans, with ‘Be Somebody’ featuring on ITV’s FA Cup coverage and many tracks from their debut album ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’ – principally the title track – often heard in football grounds around the nation. ‘Elephant Song’ from their second album ‘Music for the People’ is a direct reference to the club which they support, whose emblem features an elephant, while their latest offering ‘Saturday’ has terrace-chant written all over it.
5. Oasis – The Meaning of Soul
Noel Gallagher once claimed that his interest in music began when, as a kid, he started a football chant at a Manchester City game at the club’s old Maine Road ground. His band of course went on to play a historic concert at the stadium in 1996, and their 2009 show at the club’s new home – the City of Manchester Stadium – was one of their last before splitting. It was the 2005 Oasis gig at Eastlands which provided the backdrop for the Sky Sports advert of the same year though, featuring the track ‘The Meaning of Soul’ and concluding with Liam booting a football into the crowd.
4. Kasabian – Club Foot
Kasabian are massive football fans – most obviously Sergio Pizzorno who netted a wonder goal for the Rest of the World against England in the 2012 Soccer Aid match at Old Trafford, and also scored a belter in Soccer AM’s ‘Road to Wembley’ competition. And the boys from Leicester provided the perfect theme tune for football related television adverts, games and films when they wrote ‘Club Foot’. The track has since appeared in the films ‘Goal’ and ‘Green Street’, the games ‘Pro Evolution Soccer 5’ and ‘FIFA 13’, and perhaps most notably in the Ford advert on the Sky Sports News television channel.
3. The Farm – All Together Now
Lead-singer of The Farm Pete Hooton originally wrote ‘All Together Now’ as an anti-war song before it was adopted by football. Its lyrics (“A spirit stronger than war was at work that night, December 1914, cold, clear and bright”) is a clear reference to that. “It’s about the working classes being sent to war. People across a divide who probably has more in common with each other than the people who had sent them to war in the first place,” he said. Since it was written over 20 years ago the song has been used by Everton Football Club and as theme tunes to Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.
2. The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony
It seems that ITV are very good at making or breaking a football theme tune. Since the broadcaster secured the rights to FA Cup and England matches in 2008, ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ has provided the intro for the national team. The ‘Urban Hymns’ classic is an inspirational composition and provides the dramatic preface to an England international that the National Anthem often lacks. Legal squabbles due to plagiarism mean that all of the royalties to the track still go to The Rolling Stones, and Richard Ashcroft once commented: “This is the best song Jagger and Richards have written in 20 years”.
1. U2 – Beautiful Day
Ever since ITV secured the rights to Premier League coverage back in 2001, ‘Beautiful Day’ has been a favourite amongst football fans. Chosen as signature tune for ‘The Premiership’ it remained for three years until the broadcaster lost the rights to top flight highlights and Match of the Day returned to the BBC. The song continued to be used as the introduction to ‘The Championship’ for five years, and will no doubt conjure up memories of sitting in front of the TV on a Sunday morning amongst many a football fan.
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Classic Artist Profile: The Smiths

by James Sloan
Band Members: Steven Patrick Morrissey (1982-1987), Johnny Maher (1982-1987), Andy Rourke (1982-1987) and Mike Joyce (1982-1987).
Top Tracks: ‘How Soon Is Now?’, ‘Panic’, ‘This Charming Man’, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’, ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’.
In the five years during which they were active The Smiths changed the face of independent music. They were (from left to right): Andy Rourke, Morrissey, Mike Joyce and Johnny Marr

In the five years during which they were active The Smiths changed the face of independent music. They were (from left to right): Andy Rourke, Morrissey, Mike Joyce and Johnny Marr

The Smiths personified the indie guitar group in Thatcherite Britain. Despite rarely breaching the UK Top 10, the Manchester band created a catalogue of catchy three-minute pop songs that often reflected the harsh conditions of the Conservative regime.
The group was built on the solid song-writing partnership of Steven Morrissey and Johnny Maher, two Mancunians of Irish descent who were introduced to each other by mutual friend Stephen Pomfret. Pomfret took Maher to Morrissey’s house and the pair hit it off, forming a musical bond that would remain solid for the next five years.
As they set off in search of fame and fortune, the leaders of the band both altered their names. Johnny Maher changed his surname to the similarly sounding ‘Marr’ to avoid any confusion with the Buzzcocks drummer of the same name. At the same time, Steven Morrissey dropped his first name, adding a tinge more mystery to the lead-singer.
This duo in essence were The Smiths, in both musical and business terms. Bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce were soon recruited, but they received lower wages to that of Marr and Morrissey, who took on a lot of the band’s management and organisation themselves.
Joe Moss, Phil Cowie, Scott Piering, Matthew Sztumpf, Martha Defoe and Ken Friedman all had brief spells carrying out managerial tasks for the group before inevitably falling out with one of the dynamic duo, prompting the search for yet another interim manager. This trait of the band would play a role in their eventual split.
The Smiths’ live debut came at The Ritz in Manchester on 4th October 1982 where they supported salsa/jazz group Blue Rondo A La Turk.
Soon after, they signed to independent record label Rough Trade and released their debut single ‘Hand In Glove’ in May 1983. Their first record failed to chart, but ‘This Charming Man’, which was released six months later reached number 25 in the UK.
Smiths-mania at first seemed stranded on the British Isles. A lack of European touring contributed to this, and it wasn’t until late 1983 that they played in the USA.
Initially fuelled by Morrissey’s fear of flying, several successful American ventures opened the Mancunian group’s eyes to their potential across the pond where they were securing a lot of airtime on college radio and were becoming cult figures. Unfortunately, The Smiths’ disbanding curtailed any more US visits after 1986.
Back home the band were soon to release their self-titled debut album, an LP that surged to number two in the UK charts. Including hits such as ‘Still Ill’, ‘Hand In Glove’ and ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ the success of ‘The Smiths’ made sure that the Manchester lads would be at the forefront of the British music scene for some time to come.
Their second album ‘Meat Is Murder’ (their only UK number one) showed the passionate and protesting nature of Morrissey. The album’s title track launched a stark attack against meat eaters, exaggerating the consumption of flesh as “murder”.
Aside from the powerful lyrics of the track, Marr’s fantastic craft of a guitar is on show here as he slides up and down the strings and creates a very morose sound, and the lead singer obligingly maintains this feeling throughout the song.
It was from Marr’s chord changes and riffs that hits would originate, with Morrissey then adapting his lyrics to the mood and feel of the music. This method would reach the summit of musical brilliance with the band’s next release.
‘The Queen Is Dead’ is arguably their best work, finding its way onto the ‘Top 100 Albums’ lists of many music critics both here and across the Atlantic Ocean. You can easily play the record from start to finish without feeling the need to skip a track.
Classics such as the humorously written ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’, the funeral-esque ‘I Know It’s Over’ and the timeless ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ have produced an album that has been played in the bedrooms of many up-and-coming indie groups over the last 25 years.
Their final album ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’ is regarded by the autonomous duo as The Smiths’ best LP. Its position at number two in the UK charts also suggests this, but critics weren’t as fond of it in comparison to their earlier work.
Five years of continually composing, performing, producing and running the group finally took its toll on Marr in 1987. The guitarist decided he needed a break, so took some time off in Los Angeles. However, this sabbatical would some transpire into the termination of The Smiths.
Music press speculation about the split grew and grew and a lack of communication between band-mates resulted in Marr’s eventual extinction as a Smith. The lack of a full-time manager resulted in no one being able to mediate proceedings between the two musical prodigies.
Without Marr’s musical guidance, the group limped on, recording two songs (including ‘Bengali in Platforms’) before they realised that their race was run. Morrissey then announced in September 1987 that The Smiths were no more.
Since their break-up, the two protagonists have had varying degrees of success in their subsequent musical quests. The singer has launched a reasonably successful solo career – with hits like ‘Suedehead’ and ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’ charting at five and nine respectively, higher than any Smiths singles ever did.
Meanwhile Marr has been a member of groups such as: The Pretenders, The The, Electronic and The Cribs, before recently releasing a solo album entitled ‘The Messenger’.
Marr recently admitted that he still has correspondence with Morrissey through email, but that shouldn’t be taken as a sign that a reunion is imminent. Sadly it seems that this great band will never reform and grace us with their clever lyrics and supreme riffs again.
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Track Review: Simple Minds – Broken Glass Park

by Sam Skilton
So far 2013 has been as much a refresher of the golden oldies as it has been a reflection of their pasts. First we had the surprise David Bowie comeback, then there was the return of Primal Scream, and now Scottish rockers Simple Minds are back in business.
‘Broken Glass Park’ is nostalgic, but it’s as robust as ever. The track has actually been kicking around for a couple of years now, but was released on Monday (25th March) on the band’s latest ‘Celebrate: Greatest Hits’ LP. The video features footage of the band performing on The Old Grey Whistle Test which is an appropriate salute to the closing BBC Television Studios.
The thing is though, Jim Kerr and Co never seem to produce a bad tune. If there’s anyone I know who is a first-rate judge of whether a Simple Minds track has done the job it set out to do, and that is to keep the fans content, then it’s my own Dad. The verdict? It’s not a classic, but a pleasant reminder that the Glaswegians are still alive and kicking.
Release Date: 25 March 2013
Record Label: Virgin
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Track Review: Johnny Marr – New Town Velocity

by Sam Skilton
“It’s autobiographical,” Johnny Marr tells NME Magazine. “It’s about reconnecting with the feelings I had growing up, the ones that shape you. It was the last thing I did for the record (‘The Messenger’), and I wanted something with a dreamy aspect, because the rest of the record is so banging. It reminded me of the hazy summer morning at 15 when I decided to not ever go back to school.”
And who can argue with the man himself? ‘New Town Velocity’ is a reflection. There are tinges of sadness as Marr looks back at his childhood, but also relief. It reintroduces the reality of modern life, expressed so well by The Smiths back in the ‘80s, and it’s not only the most meaningful and heartfelt track on his debut solo album, but possibly the finest.
Released: 26 February 2013
Label: Warner Bros
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Album Review: Peace – In Love

by Sam Skilton
The cover art for Peace's debut album 'In Love'

The cover art for Peace’s debut album ‘In Love’

There’s an awful lot of over-hyped and tiresome indie-pop drivel floating around at the moment. For a while, I admit, I had Peace down as just another one of ‘those bands’. How wrong I was.
It’s an easy trap to fall into. Why should a group with the most hipster of hipster names, who sing about being ‘Lovesick’ and not wanting to go to school, be any different from a group whose lyrical ambition culminates with a line about wanting to be the best of friends? Yes, Palma Violets, Django Django, alt-J, you all fall some way short of this debut album.
‘In Love’ surprised me, in that it is a delectable feast which takes its inspiration from a diverse collection of genres. There are so many influences on this album in fact, that it risks potentially being as confused as a penguin in the Sahara. Yet somehow it works.
The ten-track record delves from modern-day indie back to the sounds of the late-1980s psychedelic-revival. But perhaps most potently there is a rather brazen punch of Britpop in between.
Indeed, this is an album which experiments with each and every corner of the famous scene of the Nineties. ‘Follow Baby’ could be Blur at their forceful best, and the song borrows the line “You gonna live forever” from Noel Gallagher’s famous lyric book, while you can picture Liam shaking his tambourine along to the outro of ‘Float Forever’. Somehow they get away without paying royalties to Blur for blatantly borrowing from ‘There’s No Other Way’ on the chorus of ‘Waste of Paint’. And let’s throw in Pulp and The Charlatans to complete the set.
There’s also a hint of the colourful ‘Hawaiindie’ which has become popular through the likes of Friendly Fires in recent years. But while Peace have been compared to everybody from Vampire Weekend to The Cure, and Foals to Happy Mondays, it is the architect of Arctic Monkeys’ Noughties-classic ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’, Jim Abbiss, who has framed the record. So really it should be no surprise that the guitar riffage on ‘Higher Than the Sun’ almost instantaneously hints to a trace of the Arctics.
Peace have been gaining popularity lately having featured in the recent NME Tour, and are odds on to make the top ten at least this coming weekend after ‘In Love’ was released on Monday (25th March).
The only issue which makes it difficult to fall totally in love with this record (or possibly makes it easier depending on which way you look at it) is the fact that it isn’t entirely ground-breaking or authentic. But lyrically and musically all ten tracks on the album are as catchy and melodic as any current indie record, and Jarman look-alike Harry Koisser’s vocals are spot on.
Surely then, given that you can stream the album for free via NME’s website, it’s finally worth giving Peace a chance?
Tracklist:
1. Higher Than The Sun
2. Follow Baby
3. Lovesick
4. Float Forever
5. Wraith
6. Delicious
7. Waste of Paint
8. Toxic
9. Sugarstone
10. California Daze
Released: 25 March 2012
Label: Columbia
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Opinion Blog: Is Britpop finally officially over?

by Sam Skilton
Damon Albarn, Noel Gallagher and Graham Coxon pose together ahead of Saturday's Teenage Cancer Trust collaboration at the Royal Albert Hall, but does this mean that Britpop is finally over?

Damon Albarn, Noel Gallagher and Graham Coxon pose together ahead of Saturday’s Teenage Cancer Trust collaboration at the Royal Albert Hall, but does this mean that Britpop is finally over?

This weekend Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn buried their hatchet to end the feud which broke out between Oasis and Blur during the height of Britpop in the mid-90s – although it appears that Liam isn’t too amused!
Noel, the older Gallagher brother, was standing in as curator for this year’s Teenage Cancer Trust concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in the absence of regular supervisor Roger Daltrey, who is currently touring with The Who.
The line-up featured the likes of Ryan Adams, Kasabian, Primal Scream, and Paul Weller, but the night which raised the most eyebrows was Saturday (23rd March). Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds were set to headline, with support from the Blur pairing of Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon.
Gallagher and Albarn initially kissed and made up after 2012’s Brit Awards, and they were spotted together again at this year’s bash. The former Oasis mastermind had by then already announced that the Blur duo would be playing the Teenage Cancer Trust gig though, and that he would most likely be joining them onstage.
Back during the peak of the Britpop era, the Blur vs. Oasis battle had been intense and at times rather feisty. In 1994 the two bands appeared together on American radio show San Francisco, Live 105, although at this point the rivalry was yet to truly take off.
It was the famous 1995 chart showdown which really sparked the hostility between the two. Blur’s single ‘Country House’ was moved by the band’s record label to coincide with the release of ‘Roll with It’ by Oasis, and as a result, spurred on by the media, the two were divided. NME devoted the cover of its magazine to the battle, branding it the “British Heavyweight Championship”.
At the time Blur were supposedly representative of the South, while Oasis were the symbol of the North. Despite their huge future success, the Manchester band were beaten to number one, and Blur had already taken all of the major honours at the year’s Brit Awards, including Best British Group, Single, Video and Album for ‘Parklife’.
A year later times had changed, and it was Oasis who took the 1996 Brits by storm, winning Best British Group, Video and Album for ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory’ which triumphed over Blur’s ‘The Great Escape’. The Northerners then taunted their rivals by putting on a mock Southern accent and singing ‘Parklife’ during their acceptance speech, with Liam Gallagher converting the words to ‘shite-life’.
During the 1990s Noel also famously said about Damon Albarn: “I wish he would get AIDs and die,” and even as recently as 2007 the Blur frontman claimed: “I can’t make it up with Noel. Britpop would be over and heaven forbid that we’d ever admit we’d all grown up!”
But, after all of their past histrionics, Gallagher united with Albarn and Coxon on Saturday to perform a rendition of ‘Tender’ at the Royal Albert Hall. An incredible super-group featured four of Britain’s greatest guitarists on stage together, and clearly Paul Weller had drawn the short straw as he was the man on drums.
The evening only seemed to intensify the dispute between the quarrelling Gallagher brothers though, with Liam taking to Twitter to comment: “Don’t know what’s worse RKID sipping champagne with a war criminal or them backing vocals you’ve just done for BLUE ! LG x (sic)”.
Presumably “sipping champagne with a war criminal” is a reference to when Noel went to meet Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street, while “BLUE” is most probably an amusing typo of what was meant to be ‘Blur’ (note that the letter ‘E’ is next to ‘R’ on a keyboard). It appears that another ‘Blurasis’ collaboration is closer than any speculated 2015 Oasis reunion.
Video: Noel Gallagher, Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Paul Weller (drums) perform together at the Royal Albert Hall
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