Aaron Matthews blogs for the money and the super grass. 

Supergrass formed during Britpop’s ’93 apex. Only in their early 20s, the Oxford-based trio of singer/guitarist Gaz Coombes, drummer Danny Goffey, and bassist Mick Quinn  saw instant success with their Backbeat Records-released first single, “Caught By The Fuzz,” earning raves from the NME and Melody Maker, and earning them a deal with Parlophone. Their subsequent debut, 1995’s I Should Coco,  a splattering loogie hocked at the-then Celine Dion/Bon Jovi domination of the charts, won them the Mercury Prize and three straight weeks at number one on the charts–even though in the United States their name remains little more than a synonym for the chronic.

Fast forward two years–the band’s self-produced sophomore effort, 1997’s In it For the Money expands beyond the bubbly glam and punk-pop of their debut to pay homage to their parents’ record collections. Supergrass’ British pop, glam and punk influences were salient on their debut, yet their second shows a greater reverence while artfully avoiding pastiche. The Who, Elton John, and the Beatles (particularly on the swirling “Going Out”) are some of the more transparent inspirations, but the band succeeds in creating a swirling diverse palette of sounds and moods, shifting from blistering quasi-grunge (“Richard III”) to exuberant sunshine pop (“Sun Hits The Sky”).

You can play spot-the-influence for days, but it would do a disservice to Supergrass’ song-writing and musical growth. Without abandoning their roots, the opening triad of songs are among the most immediate in their catalogue. The finest of the bunch, “Tonight” is a brash, horn-driven piledriver of a song, and immediately followed by “Late In The Day”, a shockingly beautiful ballad buoyed by a scorching Sgt. Pepper’s guitar solo.

Coombes and co. look backwards while moving forward, alchemizing the classics into sparkling modern pop with surprising sonic inventiveness; “Richard III” is pure Stooges until the chorus, where Gaz’s growl and Ron Asheton guitar compete with a Theremin. They burnish Who’s Next-style ballad, “It’s Not Me,” with wah-wah guitars, shakers and bubbling synths. In It… particularly showcases two underrated attributes in song writing: pacing and dynamics. Listen to how “Cheapskate” shifts from Hi Records groove on the verses to a joyous yelp of a chorus. Or the way Coombes’ vocals ably glide through the strummed verses of “You Can See Me” before barking out the chorus.

The joys of In It… are less immediate than I Should Coco but its pleasures unfold gradually on repeat listens. Supergrass are kid scientists experimenting with the pop medicine cabinet, and In It For The Money is the most potent brew they’ve ever concocted. It’s a buried gem of Britpop that deserves your attention. Plus the band members are dressed as buskers on the cover.

Bonus reading: “Modern Life Is Rubbish: The Rise And Fall of Britpop” by Scott Plagenhoff for Stylus Magazine

Related Sources:
In It For the Money
Music Cash Demands
Business Cash Demands
Business Cash Advance
Money in Music Business
MP3: Supergrass-“Tonight”
MP3: Supergrass-“You Can See Me”

Video: Supergrass-“Richard III”