17 April 2016

The Creation - Creation/ Shock Horror



Label: Creation
Year of Release: 1994

The Creation are usually one of the first groups on the lips of any connoisseur of sixties music if they're asked the question: "Which truly great British sixties bands fell by the wayside at the time?" 

In truth, they weren't total obscurities. They managed one very minor hit with "Painter Man", and another very near-hit with the big and beastly "Making Time". The former, somewhat absurdly, was later covered by Boney M, while the latter has become ubiquitous even in indie club land in the last twenty years - I was at an indie night in Ottawa ten years ago and heard the DJ play it to a huge dance floor response, and then again at a wedding elsewhere. It may have failed to crack the Top 40 in the UK, but it's since become regarded as a monstrous piece of mod pop as worthy of attention as anything The Who also produced at the time. The Germans were more accommodating in the sixties and found them a home in their charts - the British, for whatever reason, failed to see sense. 

The Creation's stock began to rise during the first wave of the sixties revival in the eighties, and only continued to gain momentum as the nineties set in. If evidence of this is needed, the fantastically chaotic and psychedelic "How Does It Feel To Feel" was covered by Ride and issued as an A side by them. 1994 obviously seemed like the perfect date for the original line-up to get back together and produce new material, and Alan McGee's Creation Records - themselves named after the band - seemed like the obvious home. They were placed in the studio with the label's legendary producer Joe Foster to produce a single also entitled "Creation", presumably with the idea that this three-way match between label, band and song title would be an interesting press story in itself.

What's astonishing about this record is that, unlike many comeback attempts by sixties groups, it sounds totally and utterly rooted in the decade it actually emerged in. The bleeding, compressed, treble-heavy production, attitude and energy sounds like 1994 Britpop as opposed to sixties mod rock. True, this isn't a tremendously large genre leap, but nonetheless the transition sounded surprising at the time and remains startling on relistening today. The A-side "Creation" in particular is a blistering piece of work, taking a simple riff and pushing it into the red. The track is seldom heard now, and probably doesn't stand up with the group's finest, but it's nonetheless worth your time. So many comebacks are riddled with embarrassment and misunderstanding present pop and rock trends - indeed, The Creation also had a crack in the eighties which is best ignored - but "Creation" and "Shock Horror" still don't sound especially distant. 

The Creation continue to tour and play today, but since the death of lead singer Kenny Pickett in 1997 they have been led by guitarist Eddie Phillips, who at present is the only remaining original member.