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Ocean Colour Scene

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Album Review

A classic case of a band searching for an identity on its debut album, Ocean Colour Scene couldn't decide whether it wanted to be Madchester rave-up, shoegaze drift, or the kind of proto-soul/R&B revivalist outfit that would eventually determine the group's future (and fairly dull) career. In ways, though, the debut could easily be the best overall thing the band recorded, showing more of a sense of genre experimentation than it did in later life, able to cover the bases from the sweet zone-out of the opening "Talk On" to the Stevie Wonder cover "Do Yourself a Favor," given a sturdy if not particularly noteworthy remake. The secret highlight of the album is possibly "Justine," a stripped-down, hushed acoustic guitar/cello ballad; if it's not Nick Drake or John Martyn, say, there's something about the low-key atmosphere, Fowler's calm vocals detailing a strange, domineering figure with her "pretty girls chained inside the dungeon." Other songs like "Third Shade of Green" and the shimmering chime and groove of "Blue Deep Ocean" suggest that if Ocean Colour Scene had aimed at developing more of its brand of psychedelic English soul, the band might have really had something. On much of the album, Fowler's fairly thin semi-whine is his undoing — if less strident than the years of his Brit-pop dominance, when it's not working it's fairly painful, but that's not a constant situation since he seems to be assaying a varying number of approaches throughout the album. Sometimes he's trying to be the young Joe Cocker or Rod Stewart — or more appropriately, the new Paul Weller — a little too hard, raising unenviable comparisons, but the easier delivery on the semi-tropical funk of "Penny Pinching Rainy Heaven Days" shows that he could relax when needed.

Customer Reviews

Dont you want a piece of the action?

"Sway" was the big number on this when I was in college, so if for no other tracks get that one. "Giving it all away" is also pretty standard fare for an early Britpop track, and the cover of "Do yourself a favor" is great if you're in a lousy mood. Enjoy!

No bad, not great

First off, I have to say that the iTunes review is awefull... Saying OSC had a fairly dull career and this could be the best thing they ever recorded, sorry mate but have no idea were you are coming from!!!
Being a Birmingham lad, OSC have always been my band. Seen them live many times over the years and always give you a good show. This, there debut record, isn't a bad album at all, but it is far from the best. Has a very early 90's madchester sound to it, which sounds alittle dated now. Plus this isn't how the album was mean't to sound, and it was in fact the record lable that remixed most of these songs to fit in to the madchester scene which was big at the time. Having said there still some very good songs on it. Justine and sway are fine songs, and I have always liked is she coming home. All in all a good album, but I would still say it's the weakest OSC album.

Sounds great, but...

This album sounds great. But it's easy to discern where it's coming from. Listening to Talk On, it sounds like the vocalist was listening to The House of Love, but going for less Bowie than the singer from that band. The production on How About You is not unlike The Lightning Seeds. Do Yourself a Favour and Sway are both from the madchester book of rhythm. There's some great guitar on Third Shade of Green until it kicks into 80's power ballad territory. The problem is that while these guys were obviously great musicians, this album sounds like little more than the product of a record company trying to cash in on the "baggy sound."

Biography

Formed: 1989 in Birmingham, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Falling between the energetic pop/rock of mod revival and the psychedelic experimentations of Traffic, Ocean Colour Scene came to be one of the leading bands of the traditionalist, post-Oasis British rock of the mid-'90s. Although they had formed in the late '80s and had several hits during the height of Madchester in the early '90s, the band didn't earn a large following until 1996, when their second album, Moseley Shoals, became a multi-platinum success story in the U.K. Their ascent was greatly...
Full Bio
Ocean Colour Scene, Ocean Colour Scene
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