Friday, 2 January 2015

Embrace 'All You Good Good People'

Chart Peak: 8 [original version: 157]
Embrace are brothers Danny and Richard McNamara, Mike Heaton and Steven Firth... They have already charted this year with their Fireworks and One Big Family EPs and now look set for their biggest success to date with 'All You Good Good People'.
It must have been early 1997 when Longpigs played Lancaster Sugarhouse, probably the biggest act to play in the town while I was a student there. I didn't actually go, but I heard about the support band Embrace who were already being tipped as the next big thing, and had just released the original version of this song as a limited-edition 7" (of 1300 apparently, which I suppose was a small number of 7" singles in the late 90s) on Fierce Panda records. If I'd seen a copy I probably would have bought it, even though I hadn't heard the song. I was quite easily led then. I did indeed go on to buy the two more widely-distributed follow-ups without really thinking about whether I liked them, and so when this bigger-budget re-recording of the debut came out I bought that too, although I was in a slight quandry about which of the two CD formats to get, and I'm still not sure I chose the right one. With hindsight, the track is rather overlong and I should perhaps have bought the version with the shorter radio edit on it; unfortunately (and slightly surprisingly) it's the same six-minute version featured here.

You can tell what they were trying to do here, and it's much the same thing that Oasis were doing on the previous track; you can also see Danny McNamara practicing his Richard Ashcroft scowl in the video and indeed Embrace were signed to the Verve's label Hut. Of course, at the time when they were signed the actual Verve had split so this single already feels slightly overtaken by events, Top 10 hit though it was. If they'd released an album in late 1997 it would probably still have been pretty big - and to be honest, I would have bought one - but by the time a debut set finally did arrive in summer 1998 they had already lost a little of their momentum and I'd lost interest. This particular song was re-recorded again for the album, and that version has the more famous video where Danny McNamara is executed. The chorus is certainly memorable and the major-label versions benefit from better singing and a proper brass section instead of the cheap synthesised one on the indie release; but ultimately the song feels a bit hollow, trying too hard to be anthemic. I stopped buying their records at this point, although I did quite like their song 'Ashes' a few years later.

As for that gig I didn't go to, third on the bill were Travis, who of course ended up being the biggest of the three acts. Somebody who did go said Travis were "the new Kenickie" and I still don't know what he meant.

Also appearing on: Now 40, 41, 59, 63
Available on: All You Good Good People

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