What's new in the land of royals and Radiohead? The editors of Britain's New Musical Express whisk us their monthly report.
I know Britain has never really been a hotbed of insurrection, but we’ve at least taken the occasional stab at it. Twenty-five years ago, for instance, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee (a days-long holiday of flag waving during which everyone pretended to be pleased we still had a monarchy) was gate-crashed by the Sex Pistols—four London oiks who briefly threatened to undermine the nation’s moral fabric by getting sick on their shoes in public.
I mention this because we’ve just ”enjoyed” the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and the anti-establishment response was pathetic. Despite the fact that on June 3 the Royal Family threw the Worst Gig of All Time at Buckingham Palace (Phil Collins, Tom Jones, Eric Clapton, and, er, Ozzy Osbourne—together at last!), the nation’s young hipsters remained strangely unmoved.
The only voices of dissent arrived courtesy of Oasis’ Liam Gallagher, who announced with typical flair that he was taking ”a rather large s — – that day,” and current flavors of the month the Libertines, who, via NME, dismissed the Queen as ”a skanky old hag.” Someone send for the guards, there’s treason afoot.
All of which meant the loudest antimonarchist anger once again came from our old friend John Lydon and the rest of the still-breathing Sex Pistols. This time round, that consisted of releasing a god-awful dance remix of their classic 1977 single ”God Save the Queen” and giving hundreds of interviews that made most normal people want to chuff themselves off the nearest cliff out of embarrassment.
For the country that invented punk, this is nothing short of a disgrace. The one chance we get to prove we’re not a bunch of tea-drinking squares, we go and blow it. Oh well, never mind, maybe if we start planning now we can kick up a rumpus for the next Jubilee in 2027. Somehow, though, I doubt it. — James Oldham, NME Deputy Editor
More Than O.K. in the U.K.
The Prodigy — ”Baby’s Got a Temper” (XL) After five years, everyone’s favorite pantomime techno group finally return with this single. A typically understated slab of electropunk about the date-rape drug Rohypnol.
Primal Scream — ”Miss Lucifer” (Columbia) Another comeback single, this time from Scotland’s self-styled answer to the MC5. Good—although the fact that the only lyrics in the chorus are ”Shake it, baby” suggests inspiration on their forthcoming album might be at a premium.
The Coral — ”Goodbye” (Deltasonic) Sorry, no albums this month, but why not buy this single over the Internet instead? From Liverpool, the Coral are a bizarre mix of Frank Zappa, sea chanteys, and Echo and the Bunnymen. In Britain, this is considered to be genius.