The only colour in this world is love

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Has Alan McGee ever given us his considered thoughts about his group Biff Bang Pow! from the vantage point of the 21st century?  Some essential and usually hidden core of modesty has probably prevented him from ever mentioning them in his Guardian dispatches.  My suspicion is that he reckons his own records aren’t up to much when set alongside those multi-million selling Oasis albums, but I still beg to differ.  His voice may have lacked the kind of rock’n’roll character he heard in Liam Gallagher’s, but Alan, Dick Green and the group’s rhythm section made up for this by juxtaposing fragility and attack, and by recording some memorably desperate songs.  The fierceness of the feeling comes from the commitment to the attitudes of love and hate, a punk rock credo developed out of pulpit sermons from the Clash and the Jam but significantly strengthened by the antagonisms of the Thatcher years.  In Alan McGee’s case it gave rise in to a perverse puritanism, or a puritan perversity.  He had both the youthful, arrogant chutzpah to declaim ‘there’s no love in this town except for me’ and the self-loathing to sing ‘I don’t matter I don’t matter I don’t matter much’.

Alan was good enough to write me an encouraging note after I sent him a copy of Pot Plant Pantry, nobly overlooking my carping in favour of the positive noises I was making, and signing off ‘Keep the faith’.  It got tested a few times over the years, but I like to think that I did.

So here are the opening and closing songs from Oblivion, whose green marble cover remains a favourite; the sweet – ‘In a mourning town’ and the sour – ‘I’m still waiting for my time’.  Though I warm to it much more than I used to, the psychedelic – ‘I see the sun’ – will have to wait for another occasion.

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One response

  1. Nice one Dan. The Girl Who Runs The Beat Hotel is still one of my favourite records. One of my most cherished possessions is a postcard Alan sent from Hamburg with just the lyrics of She Shivers Inside on.

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