Released amidst the Brit Pop madness back in 1996, Ocean Colour Scene’s second and seminal album Moseley Shoals shot to Number two in the charts following a successful support slot with Oasis the year before. Well distinguished from the brash indie-rock of Oasis and the jangly pop of Blur, OCS split the market with their stylish and refined arm-swaying brand of indie pop crossover.
Moseley Shoals, a pun on Muscle Shoals, Alabama – often regarded as the home of soul – seemingly slipped quietly under the radar gaining far less critical reception than its more well known counterparts. That said, by the end of 1996, the album had sold over 1.3 million copies and slid up and down the charts throughout the year.
Plucking titbits from their own influences, the album sees R&B vibes rubbing shoulders with prog-rock riffs and cigar-lounge pianos. Paul Weller’s right hand man and mod guitar demi-God Steve Cradock’s Led-Zep dusted guitar line kicks off proceedings on the then radio favourite ‘The Riverboat Song’ followed by the punchy sing-along ‘The Day We Caught The Train’. Although written almost 18 years ago, these tracks still find themselves on heavy rotation in indie nightclubs today.
Void of fillers, the album ticks by from the psychedelic swirls of ‘The Circle’ to Simon Fowler’s swooning vocal in ‘Lining Your Pockets’. ’40 Past Midnight’ samples the Rolling Stones ‘Let’s Spends The Night Together’ and is one of a few tracks on the album that sees Paul Weller on keys. ‘One For The Road’ is the most Brit-Pop tinged track on the album with its jangly guitars and tambourine overtures.
‘It’s My Shadow’ sounds as though it wouldn’t be out of face on a Rod Stewart era Faces record and trickles into the raucous ‘Policemen and Pirates’ where Cradock’s Gibson punctuates Fowler’s growling vocals. The mournful ‘Downstream’ makes way for a rousing finale in ‘You’ve Got It Bad’ and ‘Get Away’.
Moseley Shoals remains one of the most defining and cohesive Brit-rock albums of our generations and arguably one of the best and most complete albums never to have reached number one.