If you’re upwards of 40, the Madchester movement may well have defined the person you are today. For the baggy aficionado around 1989-’90, there were four bands that filled our musical Champions League places: New Order, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets, with, perhaps, 808 State, Paris Angels, The Farm, Intastella, Northside, World Of Twist, The Bridewell Taxis, Flowered Up and The High trailing behind. (And yes, we realise it was the European Cup back in 1989 and only the League champions were permitted to take part – as it should be today!)
Back then, Monday mornings would naturally be spent in local independent record shops searching for indie-dance-crossover nuggets, while the rest of the week, your purchases would supply the soundtrack for everything you did, even taking a bath or fixing a motorbike, repeatedly playing the vinyl until you’d absorbed every word, bassline and beat. Heck, those were exciting times.
Over 25 years later, Madchester fans are not what you’d call particularly “old”, which was why the death of Inspiral Carpets drummer Craig Gill has struck hard. Gill started playing with the Inspirals when he was 14 and was only 44 when he passed away on 22 November. He’d have been 45 on 5 December.
In many ways, Inspiral Carpets were an undervalued force. The band’s emergence in 1989 coincided with the multicoloured, cartoon japery of their peers, meaning that the spotlight was never theirs for long. Despite this, the Inspirals can count a number of tracks that are every bit as mighty as their Sixties, organ-grinding sound-alikes The Doors. “Dragging Me Down”, “Joe” (those drums!) and “Move” may even surpass the finest moments of Jim Morrison and his mischief-makers. And check out the Inspiral’s little-known version of “Tainted Love” – it’s epic.
To mark Gill’s passing, fans have launched an audacious campaign to fire the Inspirals’ 1994 Top 20 hit “Saturn 5” to the Christmas No.1 spot. Getting the Inspirals to No.1 would, under normal circumstances, be a huge task given the dominance of the charts by major labels, but at Christmas, there’s a different market. Inspirals’ supporters believe this could work to their advantage.
A spokesman for the fans’ campaign explains: “Firstly, the song is not being re-released. No major labels are involved. So there’s no need to speak to other labels and come to an agreement as to when to release the song again and start the airplay. It’s simply a case of asking anyone who has ever loved the band to download ‘Saturn 5’ – preferably multiple times – between 16-22 December.
“Streaming the song won’t make an impact given the artist and labels we’re up against. The way we’ll do it is by getting the message out nationwide for people to download in that one week, one giant hit. It would be utterly amazing in this day and age to see a record come from absolutely nowhere to go straight in at No.1. We’re calling on Stone Roses fans, Oasis fans, fans of Madchester music, in fact, anyone with good taste in music anywhere, to hop on board and get us over the line.
“David Bowie and Prince died this year and both artists had various songs in the Top 40 in the weeks after their deaths. Not a No.1, though, because fans picked various different songs. If they’d have all picked the same song, they would have had a No.1, definitely. So there’s the template. Make sure people are aware of why we are doing it and make it easy for them to get access to the single. We will also become the anti-X Factor single in many people’s eyes, too.”
If you’ve never heard “Saturn 5” before, it’s somewhat poppier than the aforementioned Inspirals tracks from the Madchester era but it featured all the prime ingredients of the band at its best. There’s the hard-edged organ, the distorted guitars and the almost tribal pounding of Gill’s drums, coupled with Tom Hingley’s ever-assured vocals – the man really had range. Records like this ought to have made the Inspirals a much bigger deal than they were.
“There will be no bottles of champagne if we do it,” the spokesman adds. “It will just be the fans saying, ‘There you go, Craig, that’s for you.’”
What “Saturn 5” lacks in sleigh bells and festive sentiment, it makes up for in power and it’ll sound like a monster at your office Christmas party. “There’s a popular misconception/Says we haven’t seen anything yet”, state the lyrics. Who knows, maybe the next chapter of the Madchester story is about to be written.
Find out why: visit the campaign Facebook page: Saturn 5 for Christmas Number 1 in Honour of Craig Gill.