Stephen Taylor / Special to The Daily Yomiuri
Steve Cradock at the Guildhall, Southampton, on 19th February 2011
LONDON--There's been a trend over the past decade or so for artists of a certain vintage to spice up their concerts by playing one of their classic albums in its entirety, but when Ocean Colour Scene finally get to perform their seminal album, Moseley Shoals, in Tokyo this month--the show was originally scheduled for March--the album will more or less be coming home, 15 years after its original release.
"We did it originally for Pony Canyon in Japan, 'cause we didn't have a deal in England. It's quite a budget album, it was done on a little 16-track desk using borrowed gear," Steve Cradock, guitarist in Ocean Colour Scene, said backstage in Southampton, England, earlier this year.
When the album eventually came out on Universal Music in 1996, it marked the beginning of a long relationship with Japan that last year saw the release of the British group's latest album, Saturday, and an appearance on the main stage at the Fuji Rock Festival.
"I think Fuji Rock is brilliant--apart from having a 12-hour flight over there and another six-hour journey--but it's a great setting and the crowds are really good," the 42-year-old said.
Formed in Birmingham, England, by Cradock, singer Simon Fowler, bassist Damon Minchella and drummer Oscar Harrison, Ocean Colour Scene released their first single in 1990. An eponymous debut album followed two years later, yet it wasn't until the release of Moseley Shoals that the group's soulful 1960s-influenced sound earned a wider audience, and a connection with the burgeoning Britpop scene. Cradock recalls it with some skepticism.
"[Britpop] was just a press word, really, I think. Obviously, something new happened when Oasis [emerged, but] Blur and us lot were already going. Oasis changed the template and the whole media explosion came, 'cause they needed to sell papers, they needed something to write about," he said.
Ocean Colour Scene were always more beat group than Britpop, yet the five-piece were on the bill of a concert that has come to symbolize the movement--Oasis at Knebworth in August 1996.
"That was amazing. For a band of our generation to do two nights at Knebworth it was unheard of--you've got to remember that we came from being fans of [The] La's and Stone Roses, an indie mentality--so to see a band like Oasis do two nights playing to a quarter of a million people was extraordinary," he said.
Less than a year later, Ocean Colour Scene were playing the main stage at Glastonbury Festival (just before headliners Radiohead), after the million-selling Moseley Shoals peaked at No. 2 in the British album chart. So, what can audiences expect to see when Ocean Colour Scene play the album in its entirety next month?
"The running order is 'The Riverboat Song,' straight into 'The Day We Caught the Train,' which normally is a big encore song, so it's different. Then you get 'Lining Your Pockets' next to 'Fleeting Mind,' which are both slow songs. We wouldn't particularly do that as a normal set, but it's quite nice to play it in that running order," Cradock said, adding that fans can also expect a few extras.
"[We're] a loud, old-school band. We'll be playing things from all over the 21 years [we've been together], we'll be there all night," he said with a laugh.
As the guitarist in Paul Weller's backing band for almost 20 years, Cradock might have been excused for harboring thoughts of throwing in his lot with Ocean Colour Scene to allow him to focus solely on his work with "The Modfather."
"No," Cradock said emphatically. "Ocean Colour Scene's always been my first band. We've never had major punch-ups, we just find our own route, find our timing to do things, and that allows us to exist," he said.
As well as being a member of two touring bands this year, Cradock has also found time as a solo artist to open for Beady Eye in Britain and Germany, and released his second very impressive solo album, Peace City West, in April. Though he lives in southwest England these days, the album title is a literary reference to Cradock's hometown--Britain's second largest city.
"It came from a book by General Sir John Hackett [called The Untold Story], which was about a third world war that was nuclear, and Minsk, in Russia--or what was once Russia--got nuked, and so did Birmingham. Minsk was Peace City East and Birmingham was Peace City West," he said.
Ocean Colour Scene will play at AX in Shibuya, Tokyo, (03) 5738-2020, at 7 p.m. on Nov. 16. For more information, visit http://smash-jpn.com.
(Nov. 4, 2011)