Independent spirit keeps British pop on a high note

The British and American film industries have been boosted this year by the majors investing in so-called independent film makers. The music industry could broadly be said to have done the same thing.

When the big labels invested in indie bands such as Oasis and Blur and decided to call them Britpop they sparked a new wave of album-buying in a public that because of dance music had got out of the habit of having rock'n'roll heroes.

While Blur were reinventing themselves with their eponymous album, Oasis's much-hyped Be Here Now was not met with great critical approval.

So, this year, for Oasis and Blur read The Verve and Radiohead. Both bands have the most nominations from assorted critics for best album - Urban Hymns and OK Computer respectively - and both were commercially successful.

While album of the year is of course a matter of taste, that taste in 1997 seems to be dictated less by your membership of a musical tribe. Instead consensus reigns over most of the lists for best album.

And this does not mean that the guitar bands have seen off dance music. 1997 was the year when everyone went clubbing and James Palumbo's empire at the Ministry of Sound stretched into politics and the media.

Rather the musical consensus dictates that faceless dance music compilations in their myriad forms rest happily in CD collections next to the "Oxbridge guitar rock" of Radiohead.

Indeed The Prodigy's rock/dance music crossover album The Fat of The Land is evidence enough that rather than being dedicated to dance music or guitar bands British tastes in 1997 encompassed both.

Certainly, the fact that the complex synthesiser-generated dance sounds of Reprazent (by the DJ Roni Size) unexpectedly won the Mercury Music Best Album prize suggests that in Britain, at least, there is no shortage of new ideas about what constitutes mainstream music.

nmE

Best albums of the year:

1.Spiritualized: Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space

2. Radiohead: OK Computer

3. The Verve:

Urban Hymns

4. Primal Scream

Vanishing Point

5. Superfurry Animals: Radiator

mixmag

Dance music albums of the year

1. The Chemical Brothers: Dig Your Own Hole

2. Reprazent: New Forms

3. The Prodigy: The Fat of the Land

4. Daft Punk: Homework

5. Etienne De Crecy Presents:

Super Discount

the face

Albums of the Year

1. Daft Punk: Homework

2. Radiohead: OK Computer

3. The Verve: Urban Hymns

4. Missy Elliott: Supa Dupa Fly

5. Spiritualized: Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space

Readers' poll best LP of the year

1. Radiohead: OK Computer

2. The Verve: Urban Hymns

3. Oasis: Be Here Now

4. The Prodigy: The Fat of the Land

5. Superfurry Animals: Radiator

melody maker

q magazine

Readers' poll top five albums of all time

1. Radiohead:

OK Computer

2. The Beatles:

Revolver

3. REM

Automatic for the People

4. Stone Roses:

The Stone Roses

5. Nirvana:

Nevermind

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