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Review / Supergrass: I Should Coco 3CD anniversary deluxe edition

ishouldcoco

Supergrass debut I Should Coco was released back in 1995 at the height of the UK’s infamous Britpop scene…

To recap, Blur had paid their dues and found an identity with 1993’s Modern Life Is Rubbish, and the band’s pop sensibilities collided with the public’s joyful desire to singalong (“all the people…”) and Parklife was born; Oasis had consolidated there impeccable rise up the charts (each single from debut Definitely Maybe performed better than the previous one) and enjoyed what you might call their imperial “toilet” phase with regular number ones and number twos (not to mention one of the best selling British albums in history – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?)); and Pulp after years of hanging out on the indie margins made good on the promise of His ’n’ Hers with Different Class which boasted perhaps the Britpop single to rule them all – Common People.

Although that movement had lost much of its lustre by 1997 – dulled by copycats (Menswear) and sloppycats (Be Here Now) – let no one tell you otherwise, the very centre point of the 1990s was a thrilling time to be a music fan in your 20s. I was exactly 25 when I Should Coco was released and was very much enjoying life in London during the Britpop era, literally hopping on a no.23 Routemaster bus every morning from my Bayswater flat, to Piccadilly, where I worked at the time. I remember clearly, popping into Tower Records in Piccadilly Circus (a daily occurrence during my lunch break) and picking up all the CD singles from that first record.

The album itself is a blast. The trio of Gaz Coombes (vocals/guitar), Mickey Quinn (bass) and Danny Goffey (drums) were capable of producing some tight, effortless, powerhouse rock (Lenny, Lose It, Sitting Up Straight) as well as poppier musical tales of teenage prangst; messing around with your mates on the bus, having no money, driving cars across fields and run-ins with the local constabulary.

The record powers through its 40 minutes at breakneck speed with an ‘anything goes’ attitude that the band would arguably never recreate again. But it’s the details that delight too; the lovely lilting piano intro to the otherwise frenetic Sitting Up Straight (courtesy of Gaz’s brother Rob who played with the band from the beginning but wasn’t an ‘official’ member until 2002); the mid-paced acoustic crispness of She’s So Loose that descends into a slow non-chorus and the general silliness of We’re Not Supposed To. Best of all is the trippy, floaty finale Sofa (Of My Lethargy) which vies with Blur’s This is a Low, Oasis’ Champagne Supernova and perhaps Pulp’s Bar Italia as great album closers of the era.

supergrass94

Supergrass in 1994

But what of the 2015 reissue? The vinyl has been out for ages and comes with a bonus seven-inch single (you can see an SDEtv video of that here). The much delayed three-CD deluxe was eventually released at the end of November, nearly two and a half months after the vinyl LP. In terms of audio selections, you have to acknowledge that this is near-perfect.

The bonus material on disc two ticks more or less every box featuring a complete collection of B-sides and extra tracks from CD singles, an unreleased session track, demos, early versions of subsequently re-jigged singles on the Backbeat label and even the Hendrix cover (Stone Free) that only appeared on a bonus seven-inch given away with early vinyl copies of I Should Coco.

From track nine onwards on disc two, the songs are sequenced to match the running order of the album, so you effectively get an ‘alternate’ I Should Coco, made up of demos and instrumentals – an intelligent approach. Of the demos, Alright is the roughest (taken from a dodgy old cassette) but it is of course very interesting hearing such an early version of the future hit single that had Steven Spielberg calling, hoping to turn the band into a Cool Britannia version of The Monkees (rather sensibly, they declined).

Highlights of disc two include the cover of the Mickey Newbury-penned Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) which was originally included on the Alright/Time CD single (although only called “Condition” on that release). Supergrass’ version is actually quite faithful to the Kenny Rogers and the First Edition cover of 1968. The band certainly had fun with their B-sides and maxi-single bonus tracks.

Heaven knows what their international fans thought of Sex! which referenced popular UK TV game show Bullseye (“and Bully’s special prize… a year’s supply of Shepherd’s Pie”) although Lenny B-side Wait For The Sun is probably the nearest to album-quality flipside on offer. The only unheard song is the ‘unfinished’ I Believe in Love, which is a charming enough ditty and certainly would have made a decent B-side, if the band hadn’t put it on the back burner at the time, ultimately never to return to the song.

The final CD in this set contains two very interesting live sets which bookend the I Should Coco era nicely. When the band played the October 1994 gig in Bath’s Moles venue, they were newly signed to Parlophone and their first major label single, Caught By the Fuzz hadn’t only just come out. The gig is fairly loose and rough and ready (with the odd technical fault) but the energy from both band and crowd is plain to hear, with Supergrass abandoning Caught By The Fuzz to plead with the audience to ‘calm down’ and ‘move back’ (they start again once things settle down). By August 1995 when Supergrass played La Route Du Rock in Saint Malo, France, all the singles from I Should Coco had been released, the band had enjoyed two top ten UK singles (including Alright which peaked at number two) and they are already thinking about the next album, evidenced by them starting the 14-track set with new song Going Out which would be the lead single from second album In It For The Money (still 20 months away from release at that point). They still played ten songs from I Should Coco but made room for live performances of a couple of B-sides and, perhaps pointedly after a year of intense promotional activity, a cover of The Kinks’ Where Have All The Good Times Gone?

There are two problems with this collector’s edition of I Should Coco. The first is that the decision has been made not to include any video material. So no promo videos, no TV performances/interviews and no Top of the Pops appearances etc. That’s a real shame, although it’s true that the inclusion of video material like this does add a whole new layer of complexity (licensing) and cost that is very off-putting to major labels who have a close eye on the P&L. To quote reissue producer Bill Ingot when SDE spoke to him about the a-ha reissues: “Working in the video realm is expensive. I mean, in a perfect world would you like to put together some video clips, where you’re licensing stuff from the BBC or from wherever, but those are the things you really can’t do anymore because of YouTube, because the licensing issues haven’t got any less complex just because they’re out there in the ether”.

Supergrass peform the last single, “Alright”, on Top of the Pops in July 1995

Even if you don’t agree with the decision, you can, to a degree, understand why a DVD hasn’t been included, The second issue with this I Should Coco deluxe is far less easy to forgive and that is that there is virtually nothing of interest in the thin booklet which accompanies the digi-pack presentation. Aside for a few words (and I mean a few) from Mickey Quinn, there are no band member contributions, no track-by-track guide, no sleeve notes providing some perspective – nothing. We get a few images of single sleeves, track listings, credits and that’s it. It really is extremely disappointing, especially when compared to some recent deluxe sets which have worked so hard in this area including Simple Minds (Sparkle in the Rain, Once Upon A Time), Alanis Morissette (Jagged Little Pill) and Tears For Fears (Songs From The Big Chair).

Deluxe physical product (especially when marketed as an ’anniversary’ release) really needs to play its part in celebrating reissues. In the case of I Should Coco, there is absolutely nothing to complain about with the audio content, but the words and pictures are inessential and effectively haven’t turned up to the party. At around £15 this is still good value, but major labels are going to have to work harder to convince fans to buy physical deluxe product. 20 years on from the original release of I Should Coco, we want the full story behind the album –  if not from the band, then at least from the view point of relevant producers, A&R men, and noted journalists of the era. There is simply no insight here whatsoever. We knew this reissue was being worked on as far back as February. Ten months later it’s finally out and the booklet is a pathetic effort. Someone couldn’t be bothered.

The audio selections still make this an essential purchase but what could have been a near flawless release ultimately falls a little short of the mark due to the shortfalls of the booklet.

The I Should Coco 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition is out now.


3CD Deluxe Edition

Vinyl LP + 7″single


Track listing

3CD 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition

CD 1: I Should Coco

1. I’d Like to Know
2. Caught by the Fuzz
3. Mansize Rooster
4. Alright
5. Lose It
6. Lenny
7. Strange Ones
8. Sitting Up Straight
9. She’s So Loose
10. We’re Not Supposed To
11. Time
12. Sofa (Of My Lethargy)
13. Time to Go

CD 2: B-Sides, Demos, Out-Takes & Curios

1. Caught By The Fuzz (Acoustic) – B-Side to Caught By The Fuzz single
2. Odd? – B-Side to Mansize Rooster single
3. Wait For The Sun, – B-Side to Lenny single
4. Sex! – B-Side to Lenny single
5. Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) –  B-Side to Alright/Time single
6. Ju Suis Votre Papa Sucre, original B-Side to Alright/Time single
7. Stone Free
8. I Believe In Love, Unfinished I Should Coco out-take recorded summer 1994 during the album session.
9. I’d Like To Know, 1994 demo on cassette from 4-Track recording
10. Caught By The Fuzz, from Feb ’94 recording session at Sawmills and used as all others on Backbeat 7”, BEAT 4: A-Side
11. Mansize Rooster, Backbeat 7”, BEAT 6: A-Side
12. Alright, recorded circa Dec ’93, demo on cassette from 4-Track recording
13. Lose It, from Feb ’94 recording session at Sawmills
14. Lenny, from 1993 demo on cassette from 4-Track recording
15. Strangeones, Backbeat 7”, BEAT 4: B-Side
16. Sitting Up Straight, Backbeat 7”, BEAT 6: B-Side
17. She’s So Loose ’93 demo on cassette from 4-Track recording
18. We’re Not Supposed To (Savoy Hotel Version), ’95 Mercury Music Awards. Broadcast on BBC
19. Time ’93 demo on cassette from 4-Track recording
20. Sofa (Instrumental) from ’94 Studio recording
21. Time To Go ’93 demo on cassette from 4-Track recording

CD 3:

Live at Bath Moles. 28th October 1994
1.Strangeones
2.Sitting Up Straight
3.Mansize Rooster
4.Time
5.I’d Like To Know
6.Time To Go (Technical Fault)
7.She’s So Loose
8.Caught By The Fuzz (Crowd Surge)
9.Caught By The Fuzz
10.Lenny

Live at La Route Du Rock, Saint Malo, France 19th August 1995
11.Going Out
12.Sitting Up Straight
13.Mansize Rooster
14.I’d Like To Know
15.Time
16.Alright
17.Odd?
18.She’s So Loose
19.Where Have All the Good Times Gone
20.Lose It
21.Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
22.Caught By The Fuzz
23.Strange Ones
24.Lenny

Vinyl LP Edition with seven-inch single

Side 1
1. I’d Like To Know (2015 Remastered Version)
2. Caught By The Fuzz (2015 Remastered Version)
3. Mansize Rooster (2015 Remastered Version)
4. Alright (2015 Remastered Version)
5. Lose It (2015 Remastered Version)
6. Lenny (2015 Remastered Version)

Side 2
1. Strange Ones (2015 Remastered Version)
2. Sitting Up Straight (2015 Remastered Version)
3. She’s So Loose (2015 Remastered Version)
4. We’re Not Supposed To (2015 Remastered Version)
5. Time (2015 Remastered Version)
6. Sofa (Of My Lethargy) [2015 Remastered Version]
7. Time To Go (2015 Remastered Version)

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20 responses to Review / Supergrass: I Should Coco 3CD anniversary deluxe edition

  1. Dennis says:

    The question seems to be: is the company willing to part with a few bucks for video content? The excuse seems rather lame to just point to the complexity. It would be way more honest to point out they are not up for paying a few bucks… How come Demon could license BBC stufffor the Bananarama deluxe editions and offer them cheaper than most of the above mentioned deluxe editions? Hint to companies… if prices for BBC stuff are too high, there have been lots of tv shows in various countries that stuff could be licensed from, but it always helps to have some people involved in such things with deep knowledge of such material like tv-performances in Sweden or Spain. Work it is fo sure, but the real fans will be grateful and surely would part easier with their money…

    It is really a shame that these days it is either the full massive boxset treatment or virtually no additional booklet apart from the usual 8-page tracklist + 10 photos and some journalist contributing a few words. But to be honest, at times I prefer it that way than those ludicrous prices that have to be paid for an additional booklet and a tacky badge (at times 15-30 UKP for stuff you sometimes just look a once or twice). A bigger booklet and nicer design + a possible increase of 2 UKP for the retailprice seems not to be on the card. A mixture of deluxe and massive boxsets would at least by myself be appreciated.

  2. Francis says:

    One word for the 3CD Expanded Edition – BRILLIANT!

  3. michal says:

    Love reading that Paul! in 1995 I was 17, living in Poland and while almost everyone around me was into that fu****ng grunge I was really impressed by what what going on that time in UK. Still I’d say 1997 even up to 1999 were fantastic times for British alternative music. So many brilliant albums released just after “the press” crucified britpop, “This is Hardcore”, “Six” by Mansun, “Kingsize” by Boo Radleys, SFA’s output, “Us and Us Only” by The Charlatans to name a few….

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Glad you enjoyed the review! I liked the singles from “This Is Hardcore” but could never find a ‘way in’ to that album. I much prefer the “We Love Life” follow-up, which I think is massively underrated.

  4. Dogfacedboy says:

    The band briefly reunited to do promo radio work for this set so it’s strange that the compilers couldn’t get some sort of track by track commentary for the booklet

  5. Eamonn says:

    Lazy liner notes is a pity (and a bit of a surprise considering Mick from the group is quite active and articulate online when it comes to Supergrass musings and commemorations) but content trumps presentation and it seems the music has been lovingly and comprehensively compiled. Re the lack of visuals, I don’t fully understand the expert’s quote on how YouTube makes licensing more difficult. If its already out there on video sharing platforms shouldn’t the license holders be agreeable to charging lower fees for reissue projects?
    The Supergrass is 10 DVD contains a fine documentary of the band with a lot of footage from the early days (along with promos and perhaps clips of TV performances, I’ve not seen it for years so can’t recall) which this reissue celebrates so at least that is available should one want to get a feel for the visuals of this era

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there Eamonn – license holders *should* be agreeable to lower fees, simplifying the process etc. But from what I can tell they aren’t, particularly. It’s still a bit of a nightmare. To address another point someone made, Demon Music have a something of a competitive advantage since they are owned by BBC Worldwide. I don’t think it’s totally black and white, but this might go some way to explaining why their reissues are normally packed with BBC footage, Top of the Pops etc. and – for example – Warner’s a-ha reissues weren’t.

      Good call on the 10 DVD.

  6. Stu says:

    The lack of content in the booklet is disappointing, but I’ll definitely pick this up at some stage. As Paul mentions, the tracklisting is pretty faultless and well thought-out. The lack of DVD content doesn’t concern me personally, I’d always much rather have a 3CD edition than a 2CD/1DVD edition as I’d likely watch the DVD stuff once (if that) and never again. And sometimes the DVD is so lacking in content to be pointless when they could’ve filled another CD with sessions and live stuff (Deacon Blue reissues being a case in point). Each to their own though, I can appreciate some would prefer the era stuff on DVD.

    When it comes to DVD/Blu-Ray archive stuff, I generally prefer to have it all on one DVD rather than scattered across numerous reissues where you need to keep changing the disc.

    Love the site Paul, all the best for the festive season and New Year.

  7. Eamonn says:

    Re This Is Hardcore, the deluxe version with the unreleased material, in particular It’s A Dirty World, helped make Pulp’s output of that era more understandable and worthwhile.

  8. Charles K. says:

    Loved them from the starting gate. Nice review and I can understand some of your disappointments Paul. Personally, I prefer how they did this one. They were comprehensive with extras and as much as I like video content I only watch them once then usually never again. The live material they included instead is much more preferred by me. I do agree with the lack of liner notes though, not much excuse for that one. Either way I feel lucky this got released especially since the equally brilliant In It For The Money probably won’t get a similar release.

  9. probablyrustin says:

    That’s a shame to not have some historical context in the booklet, but as others have mentioned, those honestly get opened once or twice. So while it’s nice to have for some historical framing, a nice package and booklet will never make up for skimpy content. For a set that will likely sell for 12 pounds or less before too long, this packed 3 disc set really hits all the bases. I’d much rather have 3 content filled audio CDs than replace one of them with a dvd containing so-so TV performances and snippets and videos available elsewhere as a compilation. Rarely do the bonus DVDs have enough on them to justify the space taken up in the set and the cost added, so I’m not as bothered here. Will be seeking a future deal to pick this up.

  10. Gordon says:

    I’m always in two minds over booklets/liner notes. On the one hand I’m disappointed if there’s just a few pages with a tracklist/credits and not much else (case in point: the Blondie remasters/reissues from 2001) but on the other hand, my eyesight is so crappy that if there are notes/lyrics I’m still disappointed because they’re so damn hard to read! LOL (case in point: the CherryPop/SAW remasters/reissues from 2011 – notes and lyrics so damn small that even people with great eyesight must have had trouble.)

    I quite like pictures in booklets – as long as they are large and spread out over several pages, not small and all squashed into 2 or 3 pages. (I refer back to both Blondie and CP/SAW for that gripe)

    I’d much rather have an ‘enhanced/CD-ROM’ section on the disc where you just pop it into your computer and download/copy an expanded high-res digital booklet that can be viewed large-scale on the screen. (As long as it’s actually ON the disc, not just one of those irritating links where you have to sign up to some e-mail list that you never hear from, just to access a ‘secret site’ that’s shut down by the time I finally get the CD. GRRRRR!)

    As for the DVD, I can somewhat understand the reluctance. For a deluxe/anniversary re-issue you really need to go all-out and make it special – that often includes remastering (which even a lot of 90’s clips need) which can be incredibly expensive (here in Australia at least) and time-consuming, as well as the licensing issues (which can also be time/money-consuming). I agree that it’s a let-down for the fans, but in the end it’s the fans who end up copping those extra expenses. And because of the slow but steady gain of digital over physical, companies don’t want to fork out big-bucks on physical product that may not recoup – especially if it’s priced to a point that even the most devoted fans would baulk at.

    As for this item in particular – I’m definitely interested. I was in my mid-to-late teens during Britpop’s golden years – I saw/heard a lot of great music on TV/radio, but living in rural Australia I never had the opportunity to actually OWN it. Here’s my chance to get the album and singles and some cool bonus stuff in one fell swoop!

  11. Tim Barton says:

    I definitely agree that the liner notes could be better-even a nice little original package instead of the digipack would have been nice, but you nailed it as far as the audio content goes. It’s pretty thorough, and the price is right!

  12. Paul English says:

    Excellent review Paul. I’ll definitely pick this up. I was 23 when it came out and played the LP constantly during the hot summer of 1995. It’s an enduring classic; one of the strongest debuts ever. Pity about the lack of sleevenotes.

    Nice to see Mickey Newbury AND The Monkees get a mention. When I was younger, I used to confuse Newbury with Micky Dolenz.

  13. Steve says:

    Great review, just wondering if I buy the vinyl will it come with a download code for the deluxe edition?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      You mean on Amazon? A slight chance, I guess. The actual vinyl comes with no MP3 downloads at all, so if you want MP3s you have to buy from Amazon with autorip etc.

  14. auteur55 says:

    The original album really sounds great here. And 20 years later it’s just as brilliant and would sound relevant today. Really wish they would do one of these for In it for the money. I like it better when bands do a reissue campaign for all their albums. When they release one it always seems like none of the others end up released.

  15. DJ Salinger says:

    Now dropped in price to £7.99 on Amazon UK today.

  16. Pingback:Deal alert / Supergrass’ I Should Coco 3CD deluxe at a bargain price | superdeluxeedition

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