KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Satur-debut – SUPERGRASS “I SHOULD COCO”

In 2015 I wrote a 3-part series on the discography of Supergrass, the Britpop-era superstars whose music transcended that era better than most (or all) of their contemporaries. At the time the format for my posts included notes on “Essential” and “Notable” tracks, as well as a summary of each album, so I’ve already discussed my love of their music in great detail. See below for my thoughts on their 1995 debut, I Should Coco, which still blows me away like it did 25 years ago.

For more information on this series, please read the opening paragraph of the first post, which featured the debut album from Led Zeppelin.

 

 

From SUPERGRASS Part 1 – Thoughts On An Artist / They’re Alright:

I still recall the first time I saw their debut. It was part of a care package from a friend at their record label (one of the perks of working in the music industry). Whenever I would receive a box full of CDs, other than discs I specifically requested I would usually play a little bit of each CD to see if it was something I might like, and if it didn’t pique my interest I would either pass it along to another music-loving friend or sell/trade it. Looking at those cartoonish faces on the front cover of I Should Coco , I figured this was a young punk band that would be immediately forgotten, but as each subsequent song played my ears continued to perk up, and by the end of the first listen I knew the album was a keeper. The trio of singer/guitarist Gaz Coombes (only 18 when I Should Coco was recorded), bassist Mick Quinn and drummer Danny Goffey, along with unofficial fourth member (and Gaz’s brother) Rob Coombes on keyboards, combined the melodicism of The Kinks & The Beatles, the ferocious rhythms of The Who, the Anglo-centric vocals of Madness and the punk/pop energy of The Buzzcocks into a musical stew that sounded like no one but themselves. For a group of young men (Quinn was the oldest at 24), they clearly devoured a lot of music in their youth, and they delivered a nearly perfect album to kick-start their career. Of the 13 tracks here, all but one are included in my lists of Essential & Notable tracks below. Only “We’re Not Supposed To” was left off. It’s a fun track, but with the speeded-up vocals & silly atmosphere, it’s not far off from David Bowie’s early novelty song, “The Laughing Gnome.” Otherwise, it’s hard to ignore the onslaught of one great song after another.

The Essentials:
♪ “I’d Like To Know” – The first of four consecutive killer tracks to start the album. Rolling drums, chugging bass, Farfisa(?) organ, sneering vocals and great “ooooh, la la la la” backing vocals. I love the bright, open chorus (“I’d like to know where all the strange ones go”) and the slow, descending middle section.
♪ “Caught By The Fuzz” – Their debut single which just missed the UK Top 40. Splashy drums, slightly distorted vocals and great dynamics (claustrophobic verses and bright choruses). This level of subtlety is not something you usually hear from such young musicians. Has a similar energy to Green Day’s earliest hits.
♪ “Mansize Rooster” – Their first Top 20 single; a fun Kinks/Madness hybrid. Stomping verses with plinking piano, and the rhythm section is on fire. Huge melodic hooks at “Why you looking so crazy, why you looking so lonely for love?” and “How would you know if you never, ever saw me?”
♪ “Alright” – Their third single and biggest hit, reaching #2 on the UK singles chart. Features barrelhouse piano, a driving rhythm, a peppy melody and upbeat, fun lyrics (“We are young, we run free, keep our teeth nice & clean, see our friends, see the sights, feel alright”). There’s a cool driving rock ‘n’ roll vibe during the instrumental section followed by a tasteful melodic guitar solo.
♪ “Lenny” – Another Top 10 single, this one starting off with heavy repetitive bass on the up-beat through the intro. Quinn delivers an impressive, fluid, John Entwistle-esque bass line, and I love the lyrical hook at “I’ve been around and around but I got nowhere to go now.”
♪ “She’s So Loose” – This one has more of an acoustic feel while retaining the propulsive rhythm of the majority of the other songs here. I love Gaz’s soaring vocals at “Take…my…love…away” and the slowed-down tempo for the three-word chorus.
♪ “Time” – Part of a double A-side single with “Alright.” There’s a tight, midtempo semi-shuffle groove and I like the way he draws out certain words, i.e. “The tiiiiime” and “I knoooow.” This is a simple song with a catchy hook at “Yeah I know what I, I see, have it all you,” and I enjoy the subtle harmonica accents.
♪ “Time To Go” – One of my all-time favorite album closers; a short (under 2 minutes), slow, bouncy, simple acoustic tune that hints at an early-‘70s Pink Floyd influence. There’s an end-of-the-party feeling when he sings, “Thanks to everyone for everything you’ve done but now it’s time to go,” and I’ve always loved his inflection at “Who could ask for more?”

Other Notable Tracks:

  • “Lose It” – Has a great vibe but not quite as classic as the four opening tracks that precede it. Features rumbling bass and Gaz screaming “So don’t loooose it, no don’t loooose it” with some distortion added to his vocals.
  • “Strange Ones” – Lyrically similar to album opener “I’d Like To Know” (“There’s a place where the strange ones go where nobody here could know”) but musically different. It’s more psychedelic, and there’s a cool shift to a 6/8 rhythm at “I want to cry for you, I want to die for you.”
  • “Sitting Up Straight” – The soft 20-second piano intro gives no indication of the fast, punky rocker to follow. It’s short and has great energy: “Sitting up straight on the back of the bus, mimicking time as the evening turns to dusk.”
  • “Sofa (Of My Lethargy)” – The longest song here at more than 6 minutes, and it takes its time to travel through various sections. There’s a slow, loping rhythm with tasty organ accents, subtle drumming and an overall hazy, unsurprisingly lethargic vibe. It picks up at “Hold on now, all I wanna do is see you” but quickly slows back down. The early-‘70s Pink Floyd influence mentioned above first appears here, but it’s mixed with elements of The Faces and The Band, and there’s an excellent slow 2-minute Floydian outro.

 

Who else was also rockin’ out to Supergrass back in ’95, and continues to do so a quarter century later? If you’re new to their music, and you like the sound of a power trio blasting out songs packed with killer riffs & infectious melodies, you’re in for a treat.

19 comments on “Satur-debut – SUPERGRASS “I SHOULD COCO”

  1. Aphoristical
    April 18, 2020

    In Oasis vs Blur, I’d choose Supergrass. They look so young in those photos. I saw them live around the time of their third record.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even if you add Pulp, Suede, Mansun, The Verve and more to the list, Supergrass will still be my top choice. I also saw them line on the tour for the (fantastic) third album, which was my only time seeing them.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Aphoristical
        April 19, 2020

        I like Mansun – they’re a bit more arty/proggy than the other Brit-pop stuff.

        Like

      • Agreed about Mansun. I didn’t discover them until around 10 years ago. They didn’t make much of an impact in the U.S. at the time.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. stephen1001
    April 18, 2020

    A fine choice, Rich – I never knew what that piano style was called, barrelhouse, that’s apt!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bill Van Orden
    April 18, 2020

    SUPERGRASS caught my attention because of the movie CLUELESS…and in a way, I can summon up the band like this……IF THE SWEET, SLADE, and the BEATLES somehow have a baby….the result is SUPERGRASS. A 70’s vibe with 90’s garage crunch….I find them entertaining enough to throw some cash at their cd’s and would hope that I could catch them opening for WEEZER ….in an alternate world. They kinda remind me like if THE MONKEES were cast in Liverpool in the 90’s. Pure ear candy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill P
      April 18, 2020

      Funny you mention the MONKEES. I don’t know if it was the beach footage w/colorful clothes or the general 60s music vibe but I felt the same thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bill Van Orden
        April 18, 2020

        I’m a child of the 60’s and love a WIDE variety of sounds, but THE MONKEES first ran when I was just the right age to appreciate ’em in their Saturday morning glory…..I get the same vibe with Supergrass because they seem to be having a good time in their own skin while giving a fun nod to what came before ’em.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Bill P
      April 18, 2020

      I came to the show much later (during their mid-80s revival) and enjoyed watching them on TV and even bought their Then & Now album. I might have been enjoying them at the same age you were when you were enjoying them…they have that fun Saturday morning appeal as you said!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi there Bill V.O. and Bill P. It’s interesting that you mention The Monkees. If my memory is correct (which is occasionally the case), Steven Spielberg reached out to Supergrass when this album was released about possibly putting together a Monkees-type show with them. They declined, and it was the right decision.

        Like

  4. Bill P
    April 18, 2020

    The only song I recognize here is “Alright” though I can’t say if I know it from radio play during the mid-90s or from the early 2010s when I lived in the UK. Nice band.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s one of those songs that you might recognize from a movie soundtrack, a TV advertisement or radio play. There’s a whole lot more to their catalog, though, with each album having its own unique vibe. Well worth exploring.

      Like

  5. Alyson
    April 19, 2020

    You’ve been losing me of late as you wind your way through the decades with this series. My interests obviously lay elsewhere in the 90s but as a Brit during the Britpop/Cool Britannia era I couldn’t have missed Supergrass. I remember the summer of 1995 really well (as I had my daughter in my tum for most of that year) – it was really hot for weeks on end and the radio was full of fun pop music by bands such as Supergrass. Can’t get over how young Gaz was then because it didn’t seem so at the time but looking at his picture now he’s a mere stripling of a lad, albeit a talented one. Glad you liked their album – Think they’re still doing their thing in 2020 although this current crisis is a disaster for those artists who depend on live performances and festivals for their livelihood. Will be some time before that all starts up again I expect.

    Like

    • Hi Alyson. I was hoping we might have some of these albums/artists in common from the ’90s, and figured Supergrass would be one of them. What does your daughter think of music from that era? Supergrass had started a reunion tour in the UK and was already planning a trek to the U.S. when the pandemic hit. Hopefully when things settle back to some kind of normalcy, they will pick up where they left off. As I wrote at the end of my Supergrass series, I knew they would eventually reunite, as the chemistry between them was always too strong to keep them apart.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. librarystorm
    April 20, 2020

    Oh man LOVE this album but not at the time of release! Back in the 90s, I was a full on metal kid. If it didn’t chug, it didn’t get played. I knew who Supergrass were (you couldn’t move in the UK without hearing ‘alright’) but they were too (according to me, at the time) poppy and lightweight and not at all what I wanted from music. Years pass. I have the album on CD, rip it, throw it into iTunes….. WOW. What an idiot I was in the 90s (or to be more accurate, I was a teenager). An album so very British yet so very American by that I mean it’s basically The Kinks having a fight with The Beach Boys whilst The Clash watch with amusement.

    Great review, Rich, and a great album!

    -jay

    Like

    • Hi Jay. I’m happy to hear that you expanded your musical horizons after your teenage years, which is the sign of someone with an open mind. I’m guessing you still love the metal you grew up on but now you love a lot of different genres, right? I love your description of Supergrass’ sound, especially having The Clash watching with amusement. Their sound evolved a lot across their discography and included many more influences, but you perfectly described the sound of their first album. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • librarystorm
        April 21, 2020

        Oh but yes! Still love metal but now I meander across all of the musical landscape. Funnily enough, I’ve never really ventured past the 1st Supergrass album in the discography. I remember the Richard III single…. I think. Well, I guess there’s no better time to dig in that during the lockdown!

        Like

      • We need to grasp any opportunity to spend more time with music, whether it’s new/new-to-us or an old favorite, and now is the perfect opportunity. There isn’t another Supergrass album that sounds quite like I Should Coco, but I think you’ll find a lot of great music if you dive in.

        Liked by 1 person

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