It always looked like the last survivors of a nuclear war would be cockroaches, Keith Richards and Oasis. Until August 2009 it looked like nothing could stop any of them, even the annihilation of the rest of the world. Noel Gallagher's left Oasis? Again? He'll be back, he always comes back. Except this time, just outside Paris, after one fight too many, he left for good. And the last major Britpop zombie was finally laid to rest.*
The timing might already have been dictated to tie in with Blur's reformation, but Mojo's timing couldn't really be much better. The big music stories of the summer were both related to Britpop's major players, fifteen years on from the release of the albums which made their names with the public at large. God knows if it had any effect on sales, but the fact I only picked it up because it was packaged with another music magazine (hey Q, looking like a glossy lifestyle mag doesn't mean your content is any less shit, just more homogenous). It's a marker though, fifteen years is around the time when the era starts to acquire the sheen of fond nostalgia and the horrors of the likes of Northern Uproar are forgotten by all but the former hardcore addicts. And even then the drugs can thankfully blur your memory.
The magazine covers the major players via a combination of archive interview and a few more words from more minor players. The big names of the era still seem reticent to talk, Brett Anderson's reluctant to discuss the more debauched aspects of Suede's career, or Bernard Butler's departure and the Elastica piece is an exercise in trying to spin towropes from gossamer, Justine Frischmann moving on and even trying to keep others from discussing it. That said, it's worth it for a seriously cute pic of Donna Matthews in her prime, before the drugs really kicked in. The Oasis piece tries to offer an insight into their rise, as part of a few articles documenting major moments (also including such moments as Jarvis' stage invasion at the Brits), but doesn't really offer anything new. That's the central problem here, there's no real new insight for the devotees of any of these bands, and being cruelly honest that's going to be the main audience for this. Instead, it's a nostalgia tour, not quite superficial, but without enough new to say to interest me. Perhaps it's that this was the musical time that dominated my time at university, and unlike most Mojo specials I was familiar with much of the material by living through the music papers for much of the time.
It climaxes with a best of Britpop album list. Creditably it ignores the prejudices of the music papers of the time and comes up with a diverse selection that provides a fairly complete picture of the movement (as always you can argue over omitted favourites such as The Verve's A Northern Soul or how-the-hell-did-that-make-it-in moments such as Stereophonics). Could've done with a little proofreading though, a couple of glaring textual errors aside it's rather unforgivable that Echobelly's 'Everybody's Got One' is accompanied by the sleeve for their second album 'On'. Particularly when said sleeve has ON in big neon orange letters on it.
As an overall picture then it's just fine, and a decent introduction for latter day Oasis or Blur fans looking to get some context. But if you were there, beware.
* Yes I know Supergrass are still going, but despite the attempts to convince you otherwise here Supergrass really weren't that big, much as I love them. No more than Dodgy really and commercially less than the undermentioned Verve