It all happened quite by accident for Gene, who, when they started were going about things quite happily as Sp!n, releasing a couple of single as an album on the Foundation label. But singer Lee Clark felt he was too old, and the following day the band had a serious accident and band member John Mason went into an 11 day coma, subsequently giving up music when he recovered. that left Guitarist Steve Mason and drummer Matt James, still keen to give this pop star game a bit of a go. They recruited bass player Kevin Miles, and then ran into future singer Martin Rossiter in a club, who gave them business card, proclaiming Martin Rossiter: Soothsayer to the stars. They had found their frontman, and a new name, Gene, was soon adopted.
The band set about recording demos and playing live and very soon afterwards gained the attention of two NME journalists, Keith Cameron and Roy Wilkinson, who, enamoured by their discoveries, set a up a record label, Costermonger, purely to champion the bands music. Their first two singles were made ‘singles of the week in NME and Melody Maker respectively, and allied to an explosive performance supporting Pulp, the band were on a roll.
Signing with major label Polydor, their debut ‘Olympian‘ came out in 1995, and reached number eight in the album charts, and was followed by To See the Lights a year later, which was an album of rarities, live sessions, and acoustic versions of songs.
1997 saw the release of their second studio album, Drawn to the deep end, and album of lavish production and arrangements, and contrasted with follow up Revelations, which saw the band adopt a more stripped down sound, and take only a month to record it. 2001 saw the band release ‘Libertine’ on their own Sub Rosa label after being freed by Polydor, and it saw the band make a record that was very much artistically free from pressure and record company interference.
January see’s the release of all five of those album’s on the Edsel Records label, with Deluxe 2CD versions of the albums featuring bonus tracks, rarities and contributions from the band.
Here’s five reasons you should go ahead and buy the reissues….
1. Olympian – From Olympian
The title track of the bands debut album, Olympian was also released as a single, reaching number 18 in the UK charts, and sums up Rossiters emotive singing and songwriting. When he isn’t sweeping his melancholic baritone over the song, then the strings are, creating something that is tender, and achingly beautiful
2. For the Dead – from To See the Lights
Shows the band as the Crown Prince to Morrissey and The Smiths, Martin Rossiter’s literary-influenced lyrics, and Steve Mason providing this sort of lyrical guitar playing. The whole thing has this yearning for the past, partly influenced by the Keys that give the whole thing this slightly moddish cool.
3. Speak to me someone, from Drawn to the Deep End
Yes, its an obvious choice, but there’s a good reason for that. Because its one of the loveliest songs written this side of, well, just about anywhere.
4. As good as it gets, from Revelations
The new strippped down sound and (by their standards) rushed recording sessions, made no difference to the quality of the songwriting, as this little gem proves. It has a delicious little piano hook and a chorus most bands would sell assorted family members for.
5. Yours for the taking, from Libertine
Overlooked, underappreciated. But crucially still both beautiful and brilliant. Which just about sums the band up as a whole.
Don’t risk missing out again. You won’t regret it.