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The Guardian: Cult heroes: S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men should have changed people's lives

posted Jul 28, 2015, 4:37 PM by Vu Nguyen
Cult heroes: S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men should have changed people's lives
by James Cook Tuesday 28 July 2015 06.00 EDT Last modified on Tuesday 28 July 2015 06.19 EDT

There is a wonderful moment in the trailer for Flawed is Beautiful – the forthcoming documentary about British bands S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men – in which the latter’s guitarist and spokesman, Hooligan, is asked why they’ve recently reformed. Four minutes later, after an impassioned, thoughtful response, he adds charmingly: “And that is my answer to your question, in a short sentence.” His fortysomething bandmates, sitting next to him, crack up.

Hooligan was always one of pop’s more accomplished orators. When he emerged from Brighton in 1993 as part of TAM – four mini-Richey Manics in smudged kohl, skinny-fit Lonsdale, Adidas T-shirts and tight white jeans – his interviews were a rare treat. Energised, inspiring, adversarial, Hooligan seemed to hate everything going – from dance music to crusties. Especially crusties. He had the soundbites (“Can a band unite like the Smiths? Maybe not, but it’s fucking well worth trying”), even a manifesto of commandments (No 7: Love is good, but not as good as a wank.)

And, of course, his band looked phenomenal. Yes, TAM knew their rock history and understood a group should be a gang: four horsemen. Four heroes. They also grasped that pop was about surfaces and ideas; that 10 minutes of visceral onstage excitement was worth two hours of dull-witted musicianship. Moreover, unhampered by a political conscience, they were spectacularly right for the mid-90s – ambitious, self-absorbed and hedonistic (the sleeve for their first single, Speed King, featured four bank notes in a plate of white powder, artwork that succeeded in getting them banned from a tour of school youth clubs). Musically they were prescient too, drawing from punk’s mod-glam seedbed: Small Faces, Mott, the Who. In any just world, These Animal Men would have been as big as Oasis.

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