The fact that Common People is spread across three CDs betrays its fault, which is to have expanded a scene that could be more cogently accommodated on a single disc into something that includes virtually every British pop act of the 1990s, regardless of aptness, worth or narrative shape.
That none of the 54 tracks is by Oasis, Blur or the Spice Girls - the three most significant acts of Britpop - renders the project not just flawed but wrong. These errors are compounded by a stress on diversity over quality: limiting Suede, Pulp and Supergrass to a single entry apiece (respectively, "Trash", "Common People" and "Alright"), in order to make room for also-rans such as These Animal Men and Northern Uproar, is like skipping dessert at Le Gavroche to leave room for a kebab on the way home. There are plenty of memorable moments, such as Babybird's "You're Gorgeous" and Black Grape's "In the Name of the Father"; but neither of these, along with offerings from James, SFA, Gomez, Stone Roses and the Divine Comedy, could be considered strictly Britpop. The only characteristic shared by these acts is that none of them managed to make a dent in the American market, an observation that speaks volumes about the insularity of the era.
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