Following a string of relatively commercial albums throughout the 90s, The Fall’s music took on a massive shift in the early 2000s. Aided by an entirely new band, Mark E. Smith went back to rough and ready garage rock basics for 2001’s relatively lo-fi ‘Are You Are Missing Winner’.
When The Almighty opened the Donington Monsters of Rock Festival in 1992, they sounded like a band ready to take on the world. Their second album, 1991’s ‘Soul Destruction’ had been hugely popular among UK rock fans and despite a key line-up change that saw guitarist Tantrum replaced by Alice Cooper sideman Pete Friesen, their third album – the soon to be released ‘Powertrippin’ – further showcased a band that seemed absolutely unshakable.
…And indeed, upon its release, the reviews for ‘Powertrippin’ were hugely positive. With its heavier stance and some brilliantly crafted songs, it quickly became a fan favourite. Peaking at #5 on the UK album chart, it also became The Almighty’s biggest commercial success. It clearly wasn’t successful enough for the label bigwigs, though, as Polydor Records dropped the band the following year.
The 1991 Yes album ‘Union’ is one that very much splits opinion. Rick Wakeman famously nicknamed it ‘Onion’ as it made him cry whenever he heard it, and even from a fan perspective, it never really connected with a strong audience. Those who liked the poppier route Yes had taken in the 80s found musical kinship in the more commercial tracks – like the lead single ‘Lift Me Up’ and Billy Sherwood’s excellent ‘The More We Live – Let Go’ – but didn’t really like the proggier aspects, while the proggy fans welcomed the return of Steve Howe and a few more adventurous bits but still had no time for the pop aspects still present. It was a case of “too many cooks” – the album took in too much variation and enlisted five different producers – and in an attempt to please everyone, almost ended up pleasing no-one.
Ever since the CD boom in the 90s, the market hasn’t been short of rock compilations. There have been literally thousands of collections of 70s rock classics flooding the market, often very similar in nature. You’d think they’d only be a finite amount of people willing to put their hands in their pockets for discs containing Rainbow’s ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, UFO’s ‘Doctor Doctor’ and Hawkwind’s ‘Silver Machine’, but still they come…and in huge numbers.
There are few things as ubiquitous with the 1970s as glam rock. The first half of the decade’s music was shaped by David Bowie in his Ziggy and Aladdin pomp, Marc Bolan’s colourful pixie-like antics on Top of The Pops, and a run of stompin’ great hits from Birmingham’s finest, Slade. Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn penned a truckload of hits for Mickie Most’s RAK label, making the music mogul’s yacht almost as famous as the acts themselves. In full leathers, Suzi Quatro helped pave the way for a generation of female rock stars and self-confessed “navvies in mascara” Sweet hadn’t “got a clue what to do”. On the artier end of things, there were Roxy Music’s appearances on the Old Grey Whistle Test where Bryan Ferry and company looked – and, indeed, sounded – like they’d been dropped to Earth by aliens and Sparks’ appearances between the likes of The Hollies and Wings on your favourite Thursday evening pop show had ability to frighten small children. It was very much a fertile time for new pop music.