ALBUMS

Gene
Deluxe Box Set

Released: 2nd February 2014
Label: Edsel Records

The start of 2014 is quite a scary place to be for someone who came of age in the nineties and I find myself reflecting back and scratching my head wondering where the last twenty years have gone? The nineties were, without a doubt, a great time to be young, this was a time of change in music, politics, society and culture, and to be a part of that is something I will always be grateful for.

Listening to the likes of Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Gene, Stone Roses, Bluetones, Cast, Ocean Colour Scene and Primal Scream in my bedroom with the stereo turned up full, I can still remember the words of my parents as though they were yesterday, “You see, they don’t make music like they used to, where will these bands be in twenty years time?”. Well parents, I think I can confidently say, "Sorry, you were wrong". Yes, some of those bands from that time have inevitably faded away, but many are still around, and all you have to do is listen to the music from the ‘brit pop’ era and I’m sure you will more than agree with me when I say this is music that has stood the test of time.

Listening to this new box set of all Gene albums from Edsel Records is a timely reminder of exactly how high the quality of the music from that era really was. At the time Gene were not a headline grabbing band, they had a strong and loyal fan-base but many wrote them off as being a Smiths cover band. If Gene were to come along now I am sure many would say they are the ‘saviours of guitar music’. Gene gave the world amazing indie pop songs that, to me, sound as relevant and fresh today as they did in the mid nineties.

Debut album ‘Olympian’ has to be one of the greatest debut albums of the era, songs such as ‘London Can You Wait’, ‘Sleep Well Tonight’ and ‘Olympian’ are beautiful, perfect pop songs that I will never tire of. Listening back to the band's second album ‘Drawn To The Deep End’ conjures up images of the excitement that would be caused by discovering lost treasure, this album really is a hidden gem that would inspire many of today's teenagers to pick up a guitar, put pen to paper and write the next great pop song. ‘Fighting Fit’ is arguably one of the greatest pop songs of the last twenty years.

Gene’s third album ‘Revelations’ saw the band take a change in direction with more politically charged songs. The album charted at number 23, and the band parted company with their label Polydor. The downside of the success of guitar bands in the 90s was that the labels came to expect too much. ‘Revelations’ was certainly not a poor album, ‘As Good As It Gets’, ‘Love Won’t Work’, ‘Fill Her Up’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Again’ provide the album with more than enough highlights to make you wonder why this did not chart higher.

Gene’s final album ‘Libertine’ was released on their own label Sub Rosa. ‘Libertine’ is an album that is full of melancholy and heartbreak. ‘Is It Over’ is up there with Blur’s ‘No Distance Left To Run’ as one of the greatest heartbreak songs ever, you can hear Martin Rossiter’s pain as he sings “Do you want another lover, Do you tire of me”.

As far as box sets go this is one that will be sure to excite die hard fans, together with those who may be coming across Gene for the first time. Each album comes on 2 CDs, featuring a host of bonus tracks and rarities, together with complete live concerts and radio sessions.

If, like me, you were one of the lucky ones and lived through the nineties get yourself a copy of this box set and indulge yourself with memories of how great the decade was. However this is not just a release for those that were there, if you have never heard of Gene, or not listened to any of those ‘Brit Pop’ bands, please don’t waste a second longer.

Steve Tay

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