Smashes and Trashes: The Greatest Hits
One Little Indian
02 November 2009
by Jon Kerr
John Major’s Britain was embarrassing: I mean no-one gets inspired by the kid who wet himself at school, do they? In searching for a new identity, the county went indie-mad and started flying the Union Jack to a soundtrack of Oasis, Radiohead, Manic Street Preachers and Travis. It was the era of ‘Britpop’ and his less aspirational brother ‘Britrock’.
The latter featured Stereophonics, Reef and Feeder (among others) and plagued slightly-alternative mediums such as TFI Friday whilst occasionally bothering Top of the Pops. Typical of this era were Skunk Anansie.
So what happened next…? The careers of Reef and The Smashing Pumpkins petered out at the turn of the millennium and the rest changed direction somewhat sharply in their (unsuccessful) race to write the Automatic For The People of their generation. But Skunk Anansie knew better and saved themselves from such embarrassment, curtailing their career within two years of headlining the 1999 Glastonbury Festival.
The intervening years have been spent relatively fruitlessly (Skin’s two solo albums sold poorly whilst Mark Richardson spent seven years drumming for Feeder), but it’s exciting that they are back… The tracks on Smashes and Trashes are evenly taken from their three albums: their debut Paranoid & Sunburnt; career highlight Stoosh; and swansong Post Orgasmic Chill. The tracks are sequenced here not in chronological order but for best listening effect: so the rock-out ‘I Can Dream’ is followed up by top-twenty radio-tastic ‘Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good)’. And the formula pretty much works, given that most buyers will be after a nostalgic trip down memory lane. ‘Weak’, ‘Lately’ and ‘Secretly’ provide such trips, given that they all had decent rotation on Radio 1 and got the band on Top of the Pops.
This collection is for those who want to enjoy Skunk Anansie at their most successful. But where is the angst and controversy? This is not a rounded representation of what the band were all about and the inclusion of ‘Intellectualise My Blackness’, ‘Pickin on Me’ or ‘Tracy’s Flaw’ would have been a bit more honest. Only the riotous ‘Selling Jesus’ and the clever drum’n’bass-pop-rock mash-up ‘Charlie Big Potato’ represent the individualism that this band stood for. This is very much a “Greatest Hits” rather than a “Best Of” (a “Best Of” would have to include ‘Infidelity’, right?)
Watch the video to ‘Tear The Place Up’ by Skunk Anasie
As for new tracks, there are three present – which is at least better than a single, token effort. ‘Tear The Place Up’ closely reminds you of Post Orgasmic Chill‘s heaviest moment, ‘The Skank Heads’, whilst ‘Squander’ is a ballad which could be ‘Secretly Part Two’. ‘Because Of You’ on the other hand has song real newness and maturity about it and would make an exiting blueprint for a future album. The band have made videos for all these songs, and guess which one is best…?
Smashes and Trashes could easily be written off as a cash-grabbing exercise, but then Skunk Anansie were a pop band first and foremost – so let’s not be too outraged. Just hope there’s a new album in the pipeline, ‘cos it would be most welcome.
Sounds like: The dawn of New Labour and a national obsession with JK Rowling is back…
Top Tracks: Because Of You, Selling Jesus, Charlie Big Potato
Skunk anasie – Smashes and Trashes tracklisting
Charlie Big Potato
I Can Dream
Hedonism (Just Because You Feel Good)
Tear The Place Up
Because Of You
All I Want