Over the past quarter of a century under our two monikers Upshot & Revolution, we have delivered over 2,000 DJ promos to the nation's alternative club nights on behalf of our client labels. The Alt. scene has always been hard to pin down, a multi-genre gathering point for young people who are looking for something more fulfilling the mainstream nightlife culture, a place to dance, sing along, hang with friends and make new ones. A safe haven to enjoy a wide range of music created by bands, producers, solo artists, experimental supergroups, an ever changing landscape that shines a light on the cultural nuances of their particular times. The diaspora of club nights under this banner range from indie, rock, left field dance and electronica, plus all it's attendant splintered sub-genres, a melting pot where you can actually see and feel a public reaction to new music.
Over 25 years, times and tastes have changed, begining at the burning embers of Grunge, through the heady days of Britpop, the mash-up meld of indie and rock and sampling that became Big Beat, the infiltration of Electronica, the influence of the internet age with out-of-nowhere one-hit-wonders, the post-punk revival, DIY to the no barriers multi hybrids of sound that make up todays left of centre artists.
As for the list, there's no particular governing rules, much like the spirit of the alt. club scene it's derived from; a mix of the biggest, most influential, some personal favourites, unexpected hits, and game changers. It's by no means a list of the best 100 tracks of the last 25 years in the alt. clubs, just cribbed from ones who passed from our hands as promos to those DJ's who rocked our worlds each weekend. The only rule was no more than 2 tracks from any given artist. It's not here to be judged, just enjoyed. If you ever frequented an alt. club night over the past 25 years, there might be something here you know and love, or something that you may hear for the first time and fall in love with. That's what indie clubbing was all about, after all. Our heartfelt thanks go to all the labels, artists, management companies, DJ's, promoters, and past employees who made this little niche in the music world happen. It's been a heady ride..
MIRROR KISSERS (2005)
Three brothers from Wakefied, The Cribs were classic outliers-done-good in the mid 90's, building a reputation as riotous live performers with an uncompromising independent ethos. 'Mirror Kissers' arrived off the back of their breakthrough track 'Hey Scenesters!' in the alt. clubs, and is a wonderous all-out indie anthem, stuffed with a scratchy energetic vim and brio that other bands of the day failed to muster. More great tracks followed, but this sums up everything good about them more than any.
ONLY HAPPY WHEN IT RAINS (1995)
Led by the surly Shirley Manson and marshalled by Butch Vig, Garbage were one of the biggest bands of the mid 90's, with their debut album - which this track is from - selling over 4 million copies. Their DJ promos were always special 7 inch editions, wrapped in embossed tin, rubber, perspex and fur, all emblazoned with their trademark 'G' logo, and are still collectors items. This was their indie club anthem, uniting goths, rockers and indie fops in a collective pre-emo dancefloor scrum. Huge.
For the Big Beat movement, the formula was simple. Shuffling 60's and hip hop mix of beats, add a catchy hitherto unknown sample, and stir together. But you needed the right mix, and by gum, The Wiseguys found it with this. Snaffling the trumpets from 'Jim On The Move' by Lalo Sifrin and vocal hook from a Fntastic 5 hip-hop mixtape was inspired crate digging, to produce a track that just shakes ass. The track was later a staple of TV adverts, including Budweiser to extend it's popularity. Gold.
OOH LA LA (1998)
Bloc Party heralded a subtle change in the indie paradigm in '94 with a new mix of post-punk and disko beat, perfectly encapsulated on this early single. It was first brough our way by the then fledgling label Moshi Moshi (on a white label 7 inch, natch) and was an instant hit in the clubs, danceable yet driving, dark, yet hopeful. Their album Silent Alarm produced many hits, and the band became a force on the scene for some time, but there's something awakening in this tune that makes it special.
SUPER BON BON (1996)
NYC's Soul Coughing were one of most unusual bands of the era, bringing a blend of jazz fusion, samples, hip-hop and experimentalism, topped by Doughty's Big Apple drawling vocals. We'd worked their wonderful album Ruby Vroom in '94 to mixed results, but with Super Bon Bon from the follow up LP 'Irresitsible Bliss', we had the golden ticket. Driven by a double bass which just rumbles through a club system, they remained criminally underrated, but this oddity remains fresh even now.