The second part of my Rediscovering Britpop series… Apart from Oasis, Blur, and a few hits from various other artists, Britpop seemed to totally miss me as a teenager, so now I’m meant to be a proper grown-up, why not go back and listen to some possible lost gems I may have missed a decade or two ago?
This album was released on 16 September 1996 and became the fastest selling debut album in Britain since Oasis’s Definitely Maybe. The album reached the #1 position in the UK charts and in 1998 it was placed at number 44 on Q’s 100 Greatest Albums of All Time list.
Another album I never owned, there was one kid in school who loved Kula Shaker, they were his favourite band, but I knew and preferred the Deep Purple original of their biggest song ‘Hush’. I did not have time for Kula Shaker then, and seeing as ‘Hush’ isn’t on their debut, I wonder will I have time for them now?
Opener ‘Hey Dude’ is a solid start, reminding me of Robbie Williams’ solo career, strangely enough – but somehow I doubt Kula Shaker’s fans would ever admit to owning I’ve Been Expecting You. No seriously, were Robbie Williams and Crispian Mills the same person? I’m feeling it a little on ‘Knight on the Town’ too. It’s where their faux-spiritualism is starting to come in too, kicking off the pretentiousness. Didn’t take long.
It started alright to be honest, but ‘Temple of Everlasting Light’ is a nonsense of a song. If I wanted to listen to prog-rock, I’d put on some Genesis, and if I wanted Indian-inspired pop-rock, I’d go for George Harrison. This is just far too self-indulgent. ‘Govinda’ “is unique in being the only British Top Ten hit to be sung entirely in Sanskrit.” It’s nice, but it’s hard to see now what all the fuss was about back in 1996. It’s fairly dated now, so has kind of lost some of that mid-nineties sparkle.
‘Smart Dogs’ seems like a more straight-up Britpop tune, and is a relief after all that mysticism stuff. Could easily fit on a Robbie album though… ‘Magic Theatre’ sounds like Scott Joplin’s ‘the Entertainer’ revamped for one of those whale-sounds records to help you sleep. ‘Into the Deep’ is another normal Britpop song, Oasis-sounding, but not a match on anything by the Gallaghers.
‘Sleeping Jiva’ is two minutes of what sounds like tuning in order to get a song started. How this was allowed appear on an album is beyond me. Maybe it’s just a warm-up for ‘Tattva’? If it is, it’s a terrible start. ‘Tattva’ is a good song, and the best one on the album – but that could be in part down to the Pink Floyd riffing. Ah no, I’ll stop the abuse for a second and admit that it’s a good song. Next up is the Grateful Dead tribute, which sounds out of place on the record – and is, wait for it, the second of two good songs in a row. What’s going on eh?
’303′ is also decent, as is ‘Start All Over’ and ‘Hollow Man’. When they let go of the mysticism, Kula Shaker weren’t actually too bad. I wouldn’t be in any rush to listen to any of these songs again, but at least they’re capable of something good. Still think they can sound a bit Robbie Williams-esque though.