Oldham may have been a “boom town” of the Industrial revolution, but today Oldham is known as a “Boon town” a place which gave birth to the Inspiral Carpets, which helped revolutionise the Manchester music scene, known as “Madchester”. Roll back the clock 21 years and you’ll be sure to see some student wearing their “Cool as fuck” T-shirt, down Oxford Road or buying one with their well earned grant down at Afflecks Palace. However, fast-forward to 2011 and you will discover that the Inspiral Carpets have reformed with their original singer and founder member Stephen Holt. Whether the Inspiral Carpets are having a mid-life crisis or not, I am really excited that the Inspiral Cow is milking once again and that they are going back to their garagy roots. Although Stephen originally left the band in 1989, he was a founding member in 1983, contributing to the crucial EP’s “Planecrash” and “Trainsurfing” as well as the “Dung 4” cassette album. So it’s really interesting to see how things will unfold and to see these old friends reunite after such a long time. As Clint Boon explained on his XFM radio show: “We’ve not actually started writing new material yet, but we are getting in the studio with the intention of doing just that. We’re also going to be re-recording some of the songs we did back in the mid to late 80s, which we never actually recorded properly, just demoed on cassettes and stuff like that. But we’re very much looking at the now and the future, while celebrating the birth of the band and going back to the garagy roots”. Now with news of going on tour with Interpol in South America , things are looking up for the Inspiral Carpets.
Already with a string of hit singles and five albums under their belt, it really is an exciting time for die-hard fans like myself. Of course Tom will be missed, but at the same time I am looking forward to rediscovering the pre-baggy Inspirals and hearing Stephen’s polished vocals. Hearing the news, that the Inspiral Carpets have renewed their musical roots has made me listen to their back-catalogue, making me realise how great they were. You see the “cool” thing about the Inspiral Carpets was they weren’t pretentious or over-exposed, yet produced intelligent music with plenty of wry observations. Ok they never had the cool swagger of The Stone Roses or the lived-in carefree appeal of the Happy Mondays, but the Inspiral Carpets were more half-baked and accessible. They were also, without realising it, unlikely trend-setters. Forget the baggy pants and Joe Blogg T-shirts, 1990 was the year of the “Boon bowler haircut”, making “Can I have a Clint please” a common request amongst the Barbers of Manchester.
Who could have forgotten those stomping fusions of garage and psychedelia, infectious hits, fuelled by the 60’s nostalgic Farisa organ, explosive rhythm guitar, boucing bass and pounding drums. Always known as a singles band, the Inspiral Carpets always had a knack of producing jaunty, robust songs, which awakened you from the kaleidescopic, trippy soundscape. What I always found interesting about the Inspiral Carpets was how lyrically their songs were textured tufts of arcane and kitchen-sink realism woven together. In particular “This is How it feels”, notably their greatest hit, touched upon social realism without claiming a political stance and in effect let the facts speak for themselves: “Husband don’t know what he’s done. Kids don’t know what’s wrong with mum…” Notoriously under-rated, the Inspirals Carpets have consistently been part of the Madchester landscape,churning out gems such as “She comes in the fall”, “Dragging me down”, “Joe”, “Saturn 5” and “I Want You” (collaborated with Mark E Smith). Even after they first split in 1995 the Inspiral Carpets have helped keep the spirit of Madchester alive with solo projects such as “The Clint Boon Experience”, “Tom Hingley and the Lovers” and various DJ Stints across the North West. Notably, the Inspiral Carpets gave ex roadie Noel Gallagher his first rock star tuition, playing a pivotal role in the formation of Oasis. So you could say that the Inspiral Carpets musical CV reads like a chapter from the Madchester encylopedia.