Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Sleeper - This Is The Sound Of Someone Else (2019)

Guitarist Jon Stewart met vocalist/guitarist Louise Wener at Manchester University in 1987 in a political philosophy class, and together they played in a number of bands at university, including jazz outfit the Lime Street Blues Band. After graduating in 1988 they moved to London to seek gigs, with their music becoming increasingly influenced by US bands such as Hole, Nirvana and, most especially, Pixies, and after advertising for new band members in Melody Maker ("Bass player and drummer wanted. Influences The Pixies and The Partridge Family"), they recruited Diid Osman and Andy Maclure. At one point, the band called themselves Surrender Dorothy, after the smoke trail in the sky from the Wizard of Oz movie, but abandoned this idea after discovering that several other bands had done the same thing. They subsequently chose the name Sleeper after the Woody Allen film 'Sleeper', and also because the word has a number of different meanings (a spy, an unexpected hit, etc.). In 1993 they signed to Indolent Records, a subsidiary of RCA Records, and released three EPs and singles before their breakthrough single release, 'Inbetweener', which notably featured UK TV personality Dale Winton in the promo video. Prior to the release of 'Inbetweener' Sleeper had been the opening act for Blur on their tour to promote the 'Parklife' album, and as a result they became embroiled in the whole Britpop movement. 
Their debut album 'Smart' was released in 1995, and was certified gold by the BPI for sales of over 100,000 copies, and it was followed by the platinum-selling 'The It Girl' which yielded four top 20 hit singles in 'What Do I Do Now?', 'Nice Guy Eddie', 'Sale Of The Century' and 'Statuesque'. In 1996 Sleeper recorded a cover of the Blondie song 'Atomic', which was used in the film 'Trainspotting', after Blondie refused to allow the use of the original version. The band's third album, 'Pleased To Meet You', was released in October 1997 and was a UK Top 10 hit, being certified silver even though it had fewer sales than the previous albums. In March 1998 the band split up, after a tour in which venues had been cancelled or downsized due to lower than expected ticket sales, and Wener and Maclure recorded material for a new project, aimed at a more mainstream market, and featuring a guest appearance by George Michael. However, the project was not completed at the time, and Wener went on to have a successful career as a novelist. Stewart moved to Los Angeles, California, where he played with West Coast band UFO Bro, and contributed as a session guitarist to k.d. lang's 'Invincible Summer' and Melanie C's 'Reason' albums. 
Osman subsequently went on to become a session player with Parlophone records band 'Dubstar', and Maclure later ran a "Punk Rock Karaoke" enterprise with DJ Steve Lamacq, but in 2017 Sleeper reformed to play in four British cities in July and August, as part of the Star Shaped Festival, alongside other Britpop acts including Space, Dodgy and The Bluetones. The following year they announced that they were recording a new album in collaboration with their old producer Stephen Street, for release in early 2019, and 'The Modern Age' duly appeared that year, and it prompted Wener and Maclure to compile some unreleased material from previous recording sessions, including the George Michael collaboration, with new material as the basis for a new Sleeper album 'This Time Tomorrow', which was released in December 2020. One of the band's claims to fame is that they were the inspiration for the phrase "Sleeperbloke", referring to the disparity between the glamorous singer Wener and the other frequently ignored members of the band, who tended to be far more anonymous and stood at the back, and Wener revelled in wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with "Another Female Fronted Band". But they also produced some fine music during their career, with a lot of it being tucked away on the flips of their singles or rare EPs, so here they all are, on a great 3-disc collection of rare and hard to find tracks by a mainstay of the Brtipop era.   

Track listing

Disc I - 1993-1994
01 Alice In Vain (from the 'Alice' EP 1993)
02 Ha Ha You're Dead (from the 'Alice' EP 1993)
03 Big Nurse (from the 'Alice' EP 1993)
04 Swallow (from the 'Swallow' EP 1994) 
05 Twisted (from the 'Swallow' EP 1994) 
06 One Girl Dreaming (from the 'Swallow' EP 1994) 
07 Lady Love Your Countryside (original version from the 'Delicious' EP 1994)
08 Bedside Manners (from the 'Delicious' EP 1994)
09 Tatty (from the 'Delicious' EP 1994)
10 Little Annie (b-side of 'Inbetweener' 1994)
11 Disco Duncan (b-side of 'Inbetweener' 1994)
12 Bank (b-side of 'Inbetweener' 1994)

Disc II - 1995-1996

01 Hymn To Her (b-side of 'Vegas' 1995)
02 It's Wrong Of You To Breed (b-side of 'Vegas' 1995)
03 Close (b-side of 'Vegas' 1995)
04 Paint Me (b-side of 'What Do I Do Now?' 1995)
05 Room At The Top (b-side of 'What Do I Do Now?' 1995)
06 Package Holiday (b-side of 'Sale Of The Century' 1996)
07 Oh Well (b-side of 'Sale Of The Century' 1996)
08 Atomic (b-side of 'Sale Of The Century' 1996)
09 She's A Sweetheart (b-side of 'Statuesque' 1996)
10 Other End Of The Telescope (b-side of 'Statuesque' 1996)
11 Spies (b-side of 'Statuesque' 1996)

Disc III - 1996-2019
01 Pokerface (b-side of 'Nice Guy Eddie' 1996)
02 Blazer Sleeves (b-side of 'Nice Guy Eddie' 1996)
03 Motorway Man (Artic Dub Mix 1997)
04 Come On Come On (b-side of 'She's A Good Girl' 1997)
05 I'm A Man (b-side of 'She's A Good Girl' 1997)
06 C*nt London (b-side of 'Romeo Me' 1997)
07 This Is The Sound Of Someone Else (b-side of 'Romeo Me' 1997)
08 What Do I Get? (b-side of 'Romeo Me' 1997)
09 When Will You Smile (b-side of 'Romeo Me' 1997)
10 I Am Not A Computer (b-side of 'The Sun Also Rises' 2019) 

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