The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

F**king Pop Classics: Alan McGee's Favourite Albums
Alex Niven , July 7th, 2014 10:06

The former Creation Records, now 359 Music man charts his musical history from child of glam to record label boss with Alex Niven

Add your comment »

It's strange that, unlike, say, Tony Wilson, Alan McGee has never been saddled with that most oxymoronic of pop epithets: 'record label visionary'. Strange, because on paper McGee's list of signings - The Jesus And Mary Chain, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, The Pastels, Teenage Fanclub, Sugar, Ride, Oasis, Super Furry Animals - is surely the most impressive in the history of alternative rock music (or 'indie', or whatever you want to call it). The roster McGee built up at Creation Records between its foundation in 1983 and its final demise in 1999 offers a perfect summary of the shimmering, neo-psychedelic first wave of pop's retro phase, when girl group classicism and dole culture record archaeology hadn't yet morphed into the arrant pastiche aesthetic of the 21st century.

Perhaps the rather less inspiring example of Poptones, McGee's follow-up to Creation, has coloured his reputation in recent years (or, more likely, there is a hint of class condescension in the stock perception of him as a clownish, carrot-topped Glaswegian eccentric). Whatever the reason, it is undoubtedly true that McGee deserves to be regarded as one of the great countercultural organisers of the last half-century, as someone who used the ethos of punk to create a musical landscape that defined the long pre-Blair decade and helped to bring into being some of the most colourfully melodic, energetically narcotic records of the late 80s and early 90s.

Indeed, catching up with McGee in early 2014 to chat about the records that shaped his life and work, the cliché that sprung immediately to mind was: they don't make them like this any more. From his home in the Anglo-Welsh borders, McGee spoke with eloquence and zeal about the heroic age of pop that made him the garrulous, witty proselyte for left-of-centre guitar music he clearly still is even after all these years. From Bowie to Dr. Feelgood, to The Stone Roses and back to Bowie again, McGee's trawl through the populist tradition of post-glam guitar music is a lyrical affirmation of a queer, decadent, largely working-class strand of mainstream pop culture that arguably no longer exists.

Alan McGee runs 359 Music; head to their website here. Alex Niven's 33 1/3 book on Oasis' Definitely Maybe is published today; read an excerpt, alongside Alex's review of the Chasing The Sun reissue, on tQ here and order it from Bloomsbury here. Alex will be launching the book with a talk, followed by a 1994-themed DJ set by tQ scribe David Stubbs, at the Peckham Pelican on July 16; head here for details. Click on his picture below to begin scrolling through Alan's choices

Alan_mcgee_1404741023_resize_460x400



If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.

CK
Jul 7, 2014 3:32pm

The kind of imaginative choices you expect from McGee.

Oddly missing arch-innovators, The Libertines.

Reply to this Admin

david leith
Jul 7, 2014 4:55pm

jesus....mr obvious. what an uninspiring human being he is.

Reply to this Admin


Jul 7, 2014 5:16pm

How did Creation end up with such a white, male roster?

Reply to this Admin

Sean
Jul 7, 2014 6:14pm

about as inspiring, well-thought out and interesting as one of those tiny books you find at a WH Smith counter.

Reply to this Admin

William Alves
Jul 7, 2014 8:19pm

The comments are always hilarious. Everyone who didn't put experimental stuff like FENNESZ or GLENN BRANCA is silly.

Reply to this Admin


Jul 7, 2014 9:49pm

These records are classics.so for that reason they will be chosen on these lists.i do wish people wouldnt be snobs
About peoples favorite records.why does everything have to be obscure?

Reply to this Admin

MM
Jul 7, 2014 9:52pm

In reply to :

Because it's more interesting than hearing the same praise for the same records by the same artists all the time.

Reply to this Admin

herr james
Jul 7, 2014 9:58pm

In reply to :

what- no slowdive? really?

Reply to this Admin


Jul 7, 2014 10:08pm

In reply to MM:

I hear what you are saying.i wouldnt criticise his choices....i would have put money on him picking an oasis record though

Reply to this Admin

Bill
Jul 7, 2014 11:22pm

No Television Personalities - I guess that would have been too obvious but I'm glad Adrian Borland's old band was included.

Reply to this Admin

Tim Clarke
Jul 7, 2014 11:28pm

Well, that was fucking boring.

Reply to this Admin

Amy Fear
Jul 7, 2014 11:36pm

I've seen worse selections, it's the commentary that is so laughable. Best thing he can think of to say about Mr Borland is that he struggled with his weight over the years. Cheers for that.

Reply to this Admin

Les
Jul 8, 2014 12:17am

In reply to Amy Fear:

That annoyed me too! Its a shame that after someone (rightfully) acknowledges Adrian Borland on one of these lists the pleb making the list can only comment on his apparent weight issues.

Reply to this Admin


Jul 8, 2014 4:08am

There is nothing wrong with liking classic albums, but the very act of publishing these already acknowledged albums with his 'it's all about the fuckin' tunes' bluster, is a waste of everyones time and far suited to filling up the jaded churnalism of NME.com

Reply to this Admin

RobW
Jul 8, 2014 9:10am

As an admirer of The Sound, I was intrigued by the inclusion of The Outsiders, whom i've not heard. Shame McGee couldn't be arsed to say something about that album and band, and just commented on Borland's weight. Prick.

Reply to this Admin

Bah Humbug
Jul 8, 2014 9:20am

A dull a selection (Ramones aside) as the Creation roster.

Reply to this Admin

djp
Jul 8, 2014 12:35pm

In reply to :

Dull, uninspired, white... What a typically dull set of albums from a man responsible for setting back British music by 30 years.

Reply to this Admin

Jeffrey
Jul 8, 2014 12:57pm

No TV personalities ?

Reply to this Admin


Jul 8, 2014 2:55pm

In reply to david leith:

So he created a record label that probably gave a chance to dozens of great bands,he's a millionaire yet is not jaded in the least and is still excited like a kid about music.Mate,that is not an uninspiring human being.Thats a guy who had pretty much nothing and when he goes will have left a lot to be proud of.Shame we cant say the same about your good self.

Reply to this Admin


Jul 8, 2014 2:56pm

In reply to david leith:

So he created a record label that probably gave a chance to dozens of great bands,he's a millionaire yet is not jaded in the least and is still excited like a kid about music.Mate,that is not an uninspiring human being.Thats a guy who had pretty much nothing and when he goes will have left a lot to be proud of.Shame we cant say the same about your good self.

Reply to this Admin

C
Jul 8, 2014 3:26pm

"Alex Turner is the best writer since Noel [Gallagher]"

Good grief.

Reply to this Admin

C
Jul 8, 2014 3:28pm

In reply to :

Hi Alan. Your list was dire.

Reply to this Admin


Jul 8, 2014 4:11pm

Why do people moan about others choices? These are his personal favourites.stuff he grew up with.its uncool to moan about a guys fave records.its a free country.you dont have to be obscure to be cool.its an honest list

Reply to this Admin

exterminatethehumanrace
Jul 8, 2014 5:15pm

I won't throw a fit that McGee doesn't include an ultramega-rare Throbbing Gristle/Andy Gibb split 7" as his personal fave or what fucking ever, but I would like to say that the fucking Stone Roses debut is maybe the most overrated release in pop music history. Lazer Guided Melodies, Pills Thrills N Bellyaches, Suede's debut, and a million other records are easily better. Fuck that simpering hippy shit(e).

Reply to this Admin

JC
Jul 8, 2014 6:19pm

In reply to RobW:

You can hear some of the Outsiders stuff on youtube, e.g.
Observations (1978). At that time, you had to go to The
Record Exchange in Camden to find these records. Rougher
sound than The Sound but as inspired.

Reply to this Admin


Jul 8, 2014 6:30pm

In reply to exterminatethehumanrace:

I always prefered the mondays to the roses to be honest

Reply to this Admin


Jul 8, 2014 6:40pm

In reply to :

Stone roses were good but yeah the mondays I liked a little more....yes please was underrated

Reply to this Admin

1312
Jul 9, 2014 7:36am

Fuck me these records are all on the counter at HMV £2 with any purchase they are all such 'classics'. No wonder all his acts were total shite.

Reply to this Admin

Loztralia
Jul 9, 2014 10:26pm

Most of these comments are hilarious. I imagine all *your* record labels have a fucking unimpeachable track record of impeccable artistic innovation, hey? Wankers.

Reply to this Admin

FuckBritishHipsters
Jul 10, 2014 2:45am

One look at this cock face and I knew he'd have a couple of Bowie records on his list. Must be some rule to be cool in England.

Reply to this Admin


Jul 10, 2014 7:04am

Whats with the bowie hatred?get a life

Reply to this Admin

amida
Jul 10, 2014 9:54am

Quietus readers, I am disappoint.

Reply to this Admin


Jul 10, 2014 1:39pm

Great to see the OUTSIDERS 1st lp here!,their 2nd 'close up' from '78 is equally great..

Reply to this Admin


Jul 20, 2014 1:42pm

In reply to 1312:

Jesus and Mary Chain?Shite?No.Primal Scream?Shite?No.Oasis?Shite?No.The Libertiines?Shite?No.And so on (I know I've missed out a load others) possibly one of the best rosters of bands in the last 20 years and definitely not on the 2 quid shelf in my HMV you pillock

Reply to this Admin


Jul 24, 2014 5:41pm

In reply to :

Super furry animals werent shite either

Reply to this Admin

shynder23
Aug 18, 2014 7:29am

In reply to exterminatethehumanrace:

You are wrong

Reply to this Admin

Beatnik Fuzzbomb
Sep 24, 2014 12:53am

In reply to djp:

Typical hipster 'cooler than thou' bollocks.

Why is it apparently both unacceptable & surprising that a Scottish White Male growing up in the 70s was inspired by other white male artists?

If a black guy had picked a roster of all black artists no one would've batted an eyelid.

Presumably you're supposed to be honest about which artists & albums inspired you not fake some hip obscure crap to try & impress people who are too fucking 'cool' to be impressed in the first place.

Most of his selections are indeed 'Fucking Pop Classics' & undoubtedly inspirational whether you personally like them or not.

Bowie - uninspired & unimaginative hahaha - get fucking real.

He & Roxy Music inspired a whole generation, without whom there'd almost certainly have been no UK Punk and I'm NOT a particular fan of either but recognise the massive cultural influence & impact they had.

It's as ridiculous as saying The Beatles are 'crap'. Irrespective of whether YOU personally like their material, their seismic effect on music, culture & society is undeniable.

Why should anyone's uniquely personal selections
a) Conform to YOUR personal tastes? (Why the hell would they?) and b) Automatically be slagged off?

Christ if you're so certain your particular viewpoint is the RIGHT one & find stuff that INEVITABLY will differ from it so offensive, why bother fucking reading it?

Reply to this Admin

Beatnik Fuzzbomb
Sep 24, 2014 12:55am

In reply to :

Exactly!

Reply to this Admin

Rotreg
Dec 8, 2014 12:00pm

"Alex Turner is the best writer since Noel [Gallagher]" LOL.

What a boring old arsehole.

Reply to this Admin