Ocean Colour Scene tonight. A band that almost didn’t make were it not for helping hands from Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher. Formed in 1989, Ocean Colour Scene were part of the early Indie movement that was taking hold in the UK. Their first single, Sway was issued by an independent label Pfffht, and had all the earmarks of a band to keep an eye on.
But the Music business has a funny way of behaving at times, and Pffht was acquired by Phonogram. And as the band were readying their debut album release, the Phonogram honchos decided it needed to be remixed in order to cash in on the burgeoning Madchester movement which was taking hold in 1990. The band were dead-against the remix and when it was finally released, their debut album was deemed a critical and commercial failure. The ensuing dispute with Phonogram saw their ousting from the label and left the band pretty much abandoned and broke.
In 1993, after considerable scratching around to make a living, they were spotted by Paul Weller who invited them to support him on an upcoming tour, as well as enlisting Steve Craddock and Simon Fowler of the band to sing on Weller’s then-latest album project. The move kept the band financially afloat until they were approached by Noel Gallagher and invited to open for Oasis on their 1995 tour.
It was then that the bands fortunes took a dramatic turn. Signed to a new label and riding the crest of the Brit-pop wave, Ocean Colour Scene went from virtual obscurity to international recognition – and their follow up album Moseley Shoals became a critical and commercial success, spawning four hit singles and reaching Number 2 on the album charts.
This session however, takes us back to their earliest period. It comes around the time of the release of their first single, Sway and the initial excitement the band generated in anticipation of their debut album. All before things went south.
So this session gives some clue as to what the band actually sounded like, before Phonogram commenced to “fiddle” with their sound and almost sink their careers.
Perhaps a cautionary tale, but certainly one with a happy ending. Ocean Colour Scene are still together, still gigging and still recording. Just goes to show you.