It’s said the music you enjoyed in your late teens and early 20s is the music that resonates most in your life, partly because it’s “coming of age” music, but I also think it has to do with the way our ears physically work, how sensitive those late teenage ears are to sound. My era was 1989-2000, and even today I seek out artists I’d overlooked from that era. Bands like Skunk Anansie or Mansun, who I picked up on in the mid-2000s after they had both broken up. Mansun is particularly special to me- something that goes on when I have a day like today, groggy from allergy pills, editing something not very creative, wondering how I’m gonna make the mortgage in 3 days.
Mansun was the brainchild of Paul Draper, a multi-instrumentalist who formed the band with friends before they actually learned to play their guitars. His singing is a bit of glam and the sound borrowed from classic British rock traditions, but with prog touches that stretched songs into angular directions and tempo shifts. Most important was Paul’s natural weirdness. At the time Oasis would write such deep and unique missives *cough cough* as “D’Ya Know What I Mean”, Mansun was kicking out songs called “Take It Easy Chicken”, “She Makes My Nose Bleed” (referring to the manga habit of male characters nose bleeding when aroused), “Egg Shaped Fred,” and “Being A Girl.”
The first album was built around the concept of a strange village, complete with stripping vicars. It was Monty Python and The Prisoner through the amp of T.Rex.
The second album “Six” is an insane classic, the Id run wild. The videos are funny and a perfect fit for the tunes.
The third album was really toned down, and showed influence of Prince in both style and song titles. It’s not really my thing to be honest. Then they broke up, and post-breakup saw a neat collection of unreleased work, b-sides and demos. But I’ve got two great albums plus a ton of neat b-sides. Jesus, I miss b-sides. That’s where artists could slip out the experiments, the interesting stuff without the record company wondering if they could make a mint off it.