Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The return of Alan McGee to the record business? Definitely maybe

He’s back. Or, at any rate, he’s thinking of coming back. We speak of Alan McGee, the man who discovered Oasis (and Adorable) when he was the commander-in-chief at Creation Records back in the day. In fairness to McGee, while …

Wed, May 16, 2012, 09:07


He’s back. Or, at any rate, he’s thinking of coming back. We speak of Alan McGee, the man who discovered Oasis (and Adorable) when he was the commander-in-chief at Creation Records back in the day. In fairness to McGee, while the names Heavy Stereo and 3 Colours Red will always be snarked when his track record is considered, Creation in its pomp was one hell of a label, giving a berth to Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, The Boo Radleys, The House Of Love, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Ride, Teenage Fanclub and other seminal acts. McGee had amazing ears and a brilliant way with contrary talent, though anyone who has read David Cavanagh’s excellent label history My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry for the Prize will know that this cut both ways.

Writing in his blog in the Huffington Post, McGee talks about going to meet some people in Japan who want to bring him back into music. Who knows, these could be ex-Sony execs who want to recreate the good old days when Sony bought into Creation and ended up Oasis on their books.

McGee muses out loud about how this new venture might give him the means to “sign up some big bands without deals and the new things out there that I love” using someone else’s money (he can’t have spent all the Creation cash by now, can he?). “If I’m honest, I am torn on this but at the same I feel it’s almost a public duty to cause chaos in the world of Simon Cowell and co”, he says, perhaps hinting that he’s going to sign a bunch of karaoke singers.

While he’s poked his toes in the waters since Creation’s demise with Poptones, the label which brought The Hives into the limelight, a lot has changed in the record business since McGee was out there kicking musical tyres. Does he really want to get back into a business which he seemed to regard with such disdain post-Creation?

Is McGee, the man who was unusually sneery about the new Creation staff who arrived post-success to help to flog more Oasis albums (see Cavanagh’s book for more on this), really willing to give up the country gentleman lifestyle in Wales for the rough and tumble of an industry which he was happy to leave behind only five years ago? Creation was a brilliant, idiosyncratic roughhouse of a label, but lightning is unlikely to strike twice (as we saw with Poptones). Are those crazy gang days over for good? And remember, this is the chap who was saying just three months ago that “all modern music is rubbish. I’ve lost all interest in it”.

But you can also understand why a return to the game would appeal. After all, if you were the music man who signed and developed that list of winners at the top of this post and also founded one of the most starry record labels of all, you’d probably want to show that you still had what it takes to do it all over again. Remember the late, great Tony Wilson who was fervently on the hunt for the next big thing right to the end to add to his wall of fame alongside Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays. That brilliant, peerless talent scout Seymour Stein can stil be found checking out new acts (he was in Brighton at the Great Escape at the weekend) in an effort to find the new Talking Heads, Ramones or Madonna. That desire never goes away. Let’s await McGee’s next move with interest. There may well be hope after all for bands with mouthy lead singers and misunderstood musical directars.

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