Here’s a jolly pair, Supergrass Mansize Rooster and Going Out.  Hailing from those far gone days of the mid 90’s. 

I liked Supergrass, they were always the idiot bastard child of the Brit Pop scene, always there regularly frisbeeing great singles at us without ever quite being too obvious, without ever quite being too enmeshed in it all.  No mean feat given how febrile the coverage of that whole scene was. 

Like everyone it was the perky video to Alright that first pulled me in because it was all filmed at pretty much my favourite place in Wales*, Portmeirion  and I just came to love the music too.  I immediately went backwards to their excellent debut single Caught By The Fuzz, my favourite song ever about being caught smoking dope by the police and being told off by your mum. 

I could never quite get into the album though, the brilliantly titled, I Should Co-Co and a couple of years later I struggled to truly love In It For The money; although plenty more astute and worthy than I acclaim it to the rafters.  For me Supergrass just seemed to work better as a singles band** and that’s no slight, it is very much a compliment.  So lets look at two 12″s I own.

Mansize Rooster, is a bouncy beastie with traces of Madness in its DNA and all manner of ludicrously high-pitched harmonising all over the shop.  The lyrics sound fine in context but suffer from a touch of nothingmuchism if you actually read them thereafter^.  It’s okay, but there’s a reason why it isn’t anyone’s favourite Supergrass tune. 

I’m so pleased I kept this.

Turn the big cockerel over and we have ‘Sitting Up Straight’ and ‘Odd?’, one an album track the other not.  The former is a classy number with a striking piano over quiet church bells intro, before it all goes very ADHD indeed, extoling the virtue of having a little smoke to pass the time.  I like the brio of it and I would have released it rather than ‘Mansize Rooster’, personally.  ‘Odd?’ takes us back to drink again from the well of Madness, in their massively underrated maudlin incarnation.  I really rate this tune as an exercise in park bench psychedelia which includes some rather choice sound effects. 

The single Going Out was a bit of a stopgap release in February 1996, they didn’t start, the fraught process of, recording In It For The Money until April of that year. 

Going Out really made me sit up and take notice of the band’s song writing chops, it catches exactly the Beatles buzz that certain lesser Mancunian lights were bragging about capturing.  It is a magnificent track, loads of fun, with a real weight behind it and some excellent off-kilter harmonies.  The horns are a real blast too.  The video was great, just the band playing in a bandstand, giving it loads – three excellent musicians there, drummer Danny Goffey in particular. 

Anyone else out there think that the cover of Going Out reminds them of David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch? it looks like one of those deeply sinister typewriters.  Ok, just me then.

For B-sides we get ‘Melanie Davis’ and a live version of ‘Strange Ones’.  The former is a tinkling Kinksian do, with some very nice Hammond playing and a bit of a wig out going on towards the end.  A perfectly satisfactory B-side tune.  The live track is an energetic and melodic take on one of the best tracks on the debut LP.

Some good artefacts of time and place here, proving the Brit Pop scene wasn’t’ just the obvious guys^^ bickering and flaunting Union Jacks on the top deck of an open bus.  Downstairs at the back there was a very young group helping themselves to a crafty smoke and having a laugh, God bless ’em.

Gotta love a bandstand.

942 Down. 

*and by extension therefore pretty much one of my favourite places in the world. 

**see also The Jam, The Who and The Police as far as I am concerned. 

^lyrics were never their best suit. 

^^despite Elastica, Echobelly and Sleeper’s best efforts it was mostly guys. 

34 thoughts on “That’s One Big Cock

  1. Well played with the title. I tip my hat.

    I love Supergrass. They just rocked up when everyone was paying attention to all the Cool Britannia and Britpop types. Genuinely one of the finest bands on the planet, I reckon.

    Both of these singles are excellent (like you say, they were a great singles band – though I also think the albums are consistently brilliant… aside from the last one, right enough… I think the magic was missing there), but my favourite is Going Out. Incredible tune.

    The albums are overdue a reissue, actually. What are they waiting for?

    1. I’ll sell you my copy of In It For The Money at a hugely inflated price, if you like?

      Going Out is incredible, never sure why it didn’t make a bigger crater when it hit back then.

      1. Sounds perfect. Though I would encourage you to listen to it more instead. It’s a truly wonderful album (I’d even go as far as saying it’s better than OK Computer. Oooft. I know).

        I think people weren’t quite sure what to make of Supergrass.

  2. I love those guys. I like I Should Coco and In it for the Money, but my favorite record by them is Life on Other Planets. It seems I am in the minority in that regard, though.

    1. It is one thought up in my own head, thank you, it seemed to work.

      They were a very good outfit for a spell. I love them unreservedly for calling an LP ‘Road To Rouen’.

  3. I do enjoy the guitar work especially. Is any of Gaz Coombes solo stuff any good?

    I like how 12″ singles sometimes have non album tracks. Although they can get expensive to buy for one unique song, but at the same time make the purchase seem like a must buy.

    The look of the dude in the sweater with the shades could almost be my dad circa 1970ish.

    As for you favourite spot in Wales, I assume it’s one of the spots they erected a statue for you. Although it may just be too commonplace now though.

    1. I’ve never heard any solo stuff at all. Friend of mine saw him and said he was excellent.

      I’ve always enjoyed 12″ singles, a format that’s always appealed to me. There is a great BBC radio documentary about its origins – basically DJs could play them louder.

      Modesty prevents me agreeing to them putting up any more statues Bop.

      1. The town of Cnwch Coch wanted to put up a statue of you and call it Big Coch. Maybe after this post they will rename it.

      1. THanks J. Sometimes the ones that take a bit to click are.worth checking out.
        I may check him out.

  4. Yet another deceptively titled post that I assumed was about Uncle Meat. I see how you get your traffic, sir.

    Incidentally Supergrass have the best sideburns in rock. Fact.

    1. You should hear what they say about you. They just diss you all the time. You’d have thought having a UK top 10 hit with ‘(I normally like people from Scotland) Just Not Him’, would be enough, but no.

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