Ocean Colour Scene - Ocean Colour Scene / Marchin' Already (Deluxe Editions)
Is it OK to talk about the 1990s yet? Often looked down upon as the runty cousin of the 1980s and a less trendy version of the decade that followed, they were all about Blur and Oasis, Jarvis and Jacko, and cool Britannia, right? Chris Evans ruled the airwaves, Vic and Bob were fresh from the nuthouse and, on the surface at least, Britpop was making waves the world over.
Outside the top layer of bands lay the Britpop b-list, of which Ocean Colour Scene were among the biggest players. Their endorsement by Noel Gallagher and association with Paul Weller helped immeasurably in their rise, but quality tunes like ‘The Riverboat Song’, ‘The Day We Caught The Train’, and ‘You’ve Got It Bad’ were key to their success. Unfortunately, all three of these numbers are on Moseley Shoals which was re-released three years ago to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary. Their self-titled debut from 1992 and Moseley Shoals follow-up Marchin’ Already now get the deluxe edition treatment.
By all accounts the band themselves have disowned Ocean Colour Scene and it’s not hard to see why. The epitome of the worst aspects of sub-baggy indie, there’s very little to recommend, with the possible exception the lead single ‘Sway’. The overriding feeling on listening is just how dull the whole thing is. Which means the bonus disc of outtakes sends a shiver down the spine.
Luckily, Marchin’ Already is a huge improvement. Their first number one album - and a swift response to the massive success of Moseley Shoals - has far better songs, and a sense of purpose about it. They may shamefully rip-off classic heritage rock but they do with panache and no little artistry. By this time the band were churning out hits, with three top ten tracks: ‘Hundred Mile High City’, the excellent ‘Travellers Tune’ and ‘Better Day’. The bonus discs are a mixed bag; the b-sides are all fine but nothing outstanding, forming a template for the sound the band have been cultivating for the last fifteen years. The quality of the audio on the live disc (included in the CD+DVD edition) is lacking to say the least, bearing all the hallmarks of an audience recording.
You can knock them for their lack of originality but you can’t deny they’ve some decent guitar tunes in their locker. Our advice? Ignore their debut but Marchin’ Already is worth picking up.
Ocean Colour Scene 3/10
Marchin’ Already 6/10