Trying (and failing) to not sound like some bitter old rocker with rose tinted spectacles, 1991 was without doubt the finest year of rock and pop music in my generation, and by the looks of it, it’s hardly going to be beat by anything around right now, The 1975??? Kasabian headlining Glastonbury despite being five years past their prime? Coldplay produced by lowest common denominator EDM creep Avicii? Nah...
You want me to substantiate this?? My Bloody Valentine’s ’Loveless’, Primal Scream’s ‘Screamadelica’, ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana, KLF’s ‘The White Room’, Saint Etienne’s ‘Foxbase Alpha’, 808 State’s –Ex-El’, Metallica’s ‘Black Album’ and of course, Massive Attack’s ‘Blue Lines’, all timeless, all deeply influential, there’s loads more from this year, but let’s move on.
1991 was a year where scruffy addicts gained a voice, it’s also the year of agit-rock, supposedly politicised indie bands, using slogans for lyrics. Indie bands were staunchly indie (this is when the concept of indie still existed, rather than it being a by-word for spray on Jeans from Top Man. What certainly was NOT acceptable at this time was any kind of rock star ego, that was saved for wrinkly cocked 70’s rockers such as Robert Plant or Roger Daltrey, this was the 90’s, we were young, we ran free, kept our teeth, nice and clean, etc.
A band that paid no heed to this unwritten rule of early 90’s rock was a three-piece called 5.30. They released their first material in the late 80’s but returned as a suited and Chelsea booted mod and pysch influenced band in 1991. As well as looking sharp, their songs had a kind of spike that was lacking in rock at the time, and in bass player Tara Milton, they had a classic rock heart-throb, sultry and moody, great cheekbones, snake-hipped with an arrogant looking sneer (bear in mind this is two years prior to Oasis), he was everything you could want from a rock star, he had lips guys wish they had, and hips girls wanted to sit on. They had a rock n roll arrogance that rubbed up people the wrong way and at the time, there was only enough room for one band of gobshites, which despite much protestation from the music media, Manic Street Preachers had that area covered.
Their incendiary live show had a dedicated group of followers over the UK, but their singles made little impact. Their major label East West continued to throw singles out hoping that at some point one may catch the attention of a wider audience, but unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. Maybe they were too retro, too mod, even Paul Weller was label-less at the time, feather cuts and multicoloured pants held no sway in a post-acid house world. If they held on til ’94, maybe they’d be mentioned alongside mid-table Brit Pop bands such as the ghastly Menswear and piss weak Echobelly in this current wave of nostalgia for Brit Pop.
Ifs and buts aside, 5.30’s sole album ‘Bed’, is a lost classic; it sits comfortably aside other UK albums that absolutely must be heard, but bizarrely given no love from the masses. Albums such as ‘Jeopardy’ by the post-punk four piece, The Sound, or the early 90’s UK rap classic, ‘The Killer Album’ by Manchester’s Ruthless Rap Assassins, everyone should have these, or at least be aware of their existence, the fact that so few people own any of these is a travesty.
So to ‘Bed’. Over its thirteen tracks, you have a whole load of wah-wah guitars merged with funky baggy breakbeats (13th Disciple), dramatic anthems made on a shoestring (“Psycho Cupid”), a surprisingly delicate moment of acoustica (‘Wrapped Up in Blue’), cranked up proto-grunge (‘Automatons’), a classic indie anthem that’s so good, it’s shocking to not be on a par with the likes of ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ (“You”), swaggering Stones-influenced blasphemy (“Junk Male”) with lyrics like “If god would to ever come my way, I’d spit into his face, then calmly walk away”. There’s also a bunch of Keith Moon type drum rolls and lip curled intros of “1, 2, 3, 4” and sincere sentiments but lost in clunky lyrics, see “Womb with a View” where the chorus actually says “Your womb has a view, I can watch the world form inside you”, all lyrical cringe melts with a melodic blast of cor anglais which closes the track.
‘Bed’ was out of print for years until Cherry Red rescued this album and re-issued it at the end of last year as a snazzy deluxe double pack.
Don’t miss out a second time, the time is right to snuggle up under these sheets, your ears will LOVE you for it.