Sleeper – London Astoria, April 1994

The Britpop years between 1993-97 brought wave after wave of great music.  From the well documented – Oasis, Blur, Suede and Pulp – to those lesser talked about years later – Gene, Marion, Menswear – each act brought their own slant to classic retro styles, often centering around guitar driven pop-rock.

Among the big players were Sleeper.  Sleeper were special.  With a musical grounding that mixed the pop hooks of Blondie and the proto punk-pop of The Undertones with lyrical narratives that were often interesting, their first two albums (‘Smart’, 1995 and ‘The It Girl’, 1996) have really stood the test of time.

Given how popular Sleeper were at their peak, it’s a travesty no home video was ever released.  They gigged constantly and made regular TV appearances and yet no permanent record was ever made available for purchase.  Just as gutting, given the amount of shows they played, none have ever been seen in their complete form from a professional source.  Bits and pieces have crept through, but nothing that gives a real sense of the shows of the period.

It seems the closest we’ll ever get are these twenty minutes from the London Astoria, dating from almost a year before the debut album’s release and broadcast in the early hours of the morning on ITV music show ‘The Beat’.   Just as nostalgia drenched as the bands of the Britpop age, ‘The Beat’, too, is now full of nostalgia.  For a short time in the mid nineties, this graveyard shift music show showed highlights of two gigs shot just a few weeks earlier.  A particularly fine edition captured footage of The Sultans of Ping FC and a pre-‘Different Class’ Pulp.   We’re lucky they caught various Britpop bands for posterity, even if most of the footage will never be seen again.

Here, from a well loved VHS tape are highlights from the aforementioned Sleeper broadcast, including an airing of ‘Swallow’ b-side ‘One Girl Dreaming’…   Enjoy.