Britpop was a bizarre period for British guitar music, it seemed you could not turn around without falling over another four piece guitar band sailing into the top forty by sticking together Love Me Do and Knees Up Mother Brown and chucking it out on coloured vinyl, popping up on Top Of The Pops the next week like the new kings in town.
Mansun were different. In this scene, they were essentially Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange Land, working by their own rules and requiring full investment to get the maximum out of their works. The debut album must be one of the most bonkers and magnificent records to reach Number One and like Suede and Manic Street Preachers, they released perfect EPs, where the B-sides were at least as good as the a’s if not better. And then came Six.
Paul Draper and Dominic Chad are one of those classic double acts who just dug themselves into their own world, with no regard to what was going on in the scene. Hell, in a world of the 35 minute album, Six sprawled magnificently over 70 minutes, it was a complete album experience. This is pointed to by the inclusion of Witness To A Murder (Part Two ) positioned as it was to create a piece of work to signify the break between the first and second sides. The fact that it also included Tom Baker is a nod to Doctor Who, one of the influences also included on the magnificent cover painting, which also points to other art referred to on the album, from Marquis De Sade to The Prisoner to Winnie The Pooh.
There are parts of the album that remind me of The Court Of The Crimson King or The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, two albums that I had yet to discover 21 years ago when I first bought Six. There are drops of Pink Floyd, both the early Syd Barrett pop attacks and the later David Gilmour excessives. Roger Waters’ intelligence and paranoia? Well, go take a listen to Negative. Fantastic.
Sixfeels like a serious piece of art as well as a fantastic record. 21 years later and Inverse Midas, Legacy et al still sound fantastic and I should note here that while the band is long gone, singer Paul Draper will be touring this year playing Six in its entirety which should not be missed by anyone who loves intelligent deep emotional rock. And weirdness. Glorious glorious Mansun weirdness.
Six will be re-issued on Kscope March 22 2019 on 180 gram coloured vinyl, standard vinyl, CD and deluxe 4 disc book edition. You can Pre-Order here.