Cast your mind back, gentle reader, to when you first heard about Oasis. Remember what we were promised? Well, we were promised the "Sex Beatles"(It's in there somewhere). That was the phrase that Creation's PR department had managed to get the press to use; the "Sex Beatles". Let's face it, which self-respecting journalist wouldn't have jumped on the phrase? It promised the best of two of our most iconic acts: the swagger, punky attitude and insouciance of The Sex Pistols, and the wonderful pop melodies of The Beatles- perfection!
But what did we get? Well, we certainly didn't get The Sex Beatles. In fact, after we'd got about halfway through "Definately Maybe", there were a great many people who'd realised we'd actually been sold The Eater Clark Five. Damn.
What fools we all were then, not to notice that the "Sex Beatles" had actually happened a few years before. They'd emerged, in a flash of brio and hype, in a swirl of flashy clothes and oik accents, with manifestos, tunes, Les Pauls blazing, and harmonies ringing in our ears.They had the swagger of the Pistols, the pure pop knowledge of the Beatles: they had it all, and weren't afraid to shout it from the rooftops: trouble was, not enough people were prepared to listen. In another time and another place, Liam and Noel would be running a pound shop in Burnage, and Boys Wonder would have played to several ecstatic sold out crowds in Knebworth's sumptuous grounds. But it wasn't to be. But why? Honestly, I haven't got a clue.
The heart of the band was the Addison twins, Ben and Scott. I had the pleasure of meeting them when I worked at the Rough Trade shop, and they came in to do a gig. You couldn't hope to meet two more committed and passionate pop fans. I remember we spent a good half hour rhapsodising about the healing power of the seven inch single, with Ben reserving particular space in his heart for all his Small Faces EP's, and all of us arguing about the best Label designs ever. They were sharply dressed, but had sharper pop minds, their enthusiasm and energy sparking out of them as they sat behind the shop's tiny counter. We met a number of times in the next couple of years, when my band was taking off, and they always had the time of day for me, were always incredibly polite and interested in how I was doing, never jealous that I had appeared to fluke some sort of success whilst Boys Wonder never really took off. I had a lot of time for them then, and have followed their careers with interest ever since.
This particular single, their second, is as perfect a snapshot of both their style and their substance as you will find. The guitar riff bursts in like The Clash on "Jail Guitar Doors", but ten times bigger. The snotty vocals talk of a pride in our country, without ever sinking into stereotyping, or worse, racial slurs. The song is a celebration of our diversity, a flag-waving, chest-beating fist in the sky about how great it is to live here, with all the other races and peoples who've made this such a unique place in the world. Many have tried to do it, but this is (along with "Waterloo Sunset", which is WAY more parochial) probably the most perfect summation of national pride I've ever heard. This particular version is the 12", for that EXTRA dose of swagger: the Clanger/Winstanley production is an absolute "Kitchen Sink" job: just when you think it probably couldn't get any louder; it gets louder.
To see them doing the song live, check this out, but try not to punch your screen when Ben Elton introduces them......
And, the crazy thing is, it's not even their finest moment. That belongs to a later single "Goodbye Jimmy Dean" (which I'll post soon). But for now, if you're not acquainted with Boys Wonder, this is a great place to start.
And what became of them? Well, Ben And Scott went on to be lynch-pins of the arch, but wonderful Acid Jazz outfit Corduroy, who reformed last year. More info on them can be found here and a good place to start with their albums would be to check this out.