CD cover for the Supergrass single "Alright".
Supergrass was formed by Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey, who had been members of the shoegaze band The Jennifers along with Nick Goffey and Andy Davis. The band played gigs at various venues around Oxfordshire, and were successful enough to release one single, “Just Got Back Today”, on Nude Records, before disbanding. When Coombes began working at a local Harvester restaurant, he befriended co-worker Mick Quinn. Realizing they had common musical interests, Coombes invited Quinn to jam with him and Goffey. In February 1993, they formed Theodore Supergrass, later shortened to Supergrass. Gaz’s brother, Rob Coombes, played flute on their first gig; he soon became the keyboardist, although he wasn’t credited as a band member until a decade later. In mid-1994, they released their debut single, “Caught by the Fuzz”, on independent Backbeat Records. The limited release sold out fairly quickly, thanks in part to support from John Peel. The band was signed to Parlophone, who re-released the single in autumn of the same year. In February 1995, “Mansize Rooster” was released, their second single and first U.K. Top 20 single. This was followed by “Lenny”, their first U.K. Top 10 hit; in May 1995, “I Should Coco” was released, their debut album. The album sold over a million copies worldwide. The album contained their fourth single, the double A-side “Alright” b/w “Time”, which stayed in the U.K. Top Three for a month. This is today’s featured single.
“Alright” begins with a keyboard playing a monotonous melody, followed by guitars and Gaz Coombes’ vocals: “We are young, we run green/Keep our teeth, nice and clean/See our friends, see the sights, feel alright”. The melody is simple, using a grand total of only five chords, yet this is an infectious little song, one which is reminiscent of both British pop of the 1960s and power pop of the 1970s. The minor-key melody during the chorus provides an interesting contrast with the verses. There’s an brief but punchy-sounding instrumental break about 1 minute and 40 seconds into the song as well. Although “Alright” may be a bit annoying for 1990s Britpop detractors, I found it to be an enjoyable song.
The B-side of the single, “Time”, is a more languid, laid-back sounding, melodic song, an interesting contrast with the more anthematic “Alright”. Rather, this is a relatively simple love song: “The time, is on the way/My love/I know I’m going away/My love”. The keyboards play a less prominent role, but compliment the main melody quite well, and we even have a harmonica on this track for musical texture. The vocal harmonizing between Coombes and Goffey is a nice touch as well. “Time” may not be the teenage rallying cry that “Alright” is, but that does not mean it is any less compelling as a slice of Britpop, and even those who generally disliked the genre might take a liking to this tune.
The single (catalog #: CDR 6413) was released on Parlophone in the U.K. in July 1995. Shown here is the cover for the CD version; it was also released on colored vinyl. Supergrass toured for eighteen months in support of “I Should Coco”, then returned to Sawmills studio to record their follow-up album “In It for the Money” (1997), featuring a darker sound than its predecessor. Their third album, “Supergrass” (1999), received good reviews, but was not as successful commercially as its predecessors, although the single “Moving” from “Supergrass” did reach the Top Ten in the U.K. Their next album, “Life on Other Planets” (2002), was the first on which Rob Coombes was credited as a full member of the band; the album was not as successful as the first three albums but once again was a hit with critics. In 2004, the band released the greatest hits compilation “Supergrass Is 10” to celebrate their tenth anniversary. “Road to Rouen” (2005) was released next and was well-received by fans and critics alike. Their sixth album, “Diamond Hoo Ha”, was their lowest charting album (peaking at #19 in the U.K.) with none of the three singles from the album reaching the Top 40. The band was working on their fourth album when they announced their split in April 2010.