on 4 March 2014
Ironically, Revelations was more or less the final chapter in Gene's association with Polydor, and far more of a "difficult album" than their third. Rossiter's severe new haircut was perhaps visual evidence of the depression he had been diagnosed with, but even if not the signs were there throughout this album: Love Won't Work, The British Disease, The Police Will Never Find You, You'll Never Walk Again... if these sound like bleak songs to you, you'd be right. There were moments of real beauty too though, no more so than on Little Child, penned by new father Rossiter and guaranteed to get something in the eye of any dad who listens to it. Also noteworthy is the contrast in recording methods found here - whereas Polydor had pumped serious resources into their previous album, in the absence of the hoped-for mainstream breakthrough they subsequently pulled the rug from under Revelations before it even got going, hence a very quick and comparatively cheap recording. Troubles aside though, there were plenty of other highlights, as good as anything in the Gene canon, not least As Good As It Gets, In Love With Love and the aforementioned Love Won't Work. Bonus material here is the most varied of any of the re-issues: the B-sides are, to be honest, of a generally lower standard than those that graced earlier Gene singles. Then there's a contemporary set from Sound City 98 which, though long (16 tracks) is conspicuously light on tracks from Revelations, relying more on past glories. And then there's a Jam cover, A Town Called Malice.
Can it really be 20 years already? 20 years since Gene rose to promenence, with "For The Dead", and 10 since they quietly disappeared, mourned by a handful, and forgotten by many? At one point they could have been kings. Now, overlooked and ignored by Megador Records, the band have quietly faded from view to day jobs and memories. In time, the bands work - an elegant body that combined the majesty of The Smiths with the muscular strength of The Faces and 60's era Mod bands, has aged with dignity and power. Over four albums, and catch all b-sides compilation "To See The Lights", the band explored humanity with increasing effectiveness and skill. This reissue series finally gives the band the dignity they deserve, with expanded editions of each record, appended with every b-side, an enormity of radio sessions (almost every single one the band recorded for the BBC,), and several live shows from the period, showcasing embryonic and early versions of many songs from subsequent albums - are a fascinating insight. In terms of unreleased material, there is little until the time the band were released from their Polydor contract, at which point the band had control of their own recordings. Each of the editions is packed in a double CD set, with the original album appended by b-sides and extra songs. Disc 2 of each package generally tends to be a live radio session recorded for the BBC and live material.
"Revelations", released in 1999 after the Britpop ship had sunk and the icebergs melted, was the sound of defiant beauty. It is perhaps a song or two too long, but it is also the sound of a band on the ropes, punching their way to glory with defiant arrogance, and a knowledge that sits deep in the grooves that they, even if the bands commercial stature was waning and the label was made of cloth eared nincompoops trying to get Limp Bizkit on the cover of "Select", they were a band that had a magic in a world that wouldn't listen. Singles "As Good As It Gets" and "Fill Her Up" underperformed, but closing track "You'll Never Walk Again" was their finest moment to date, and ushered in the accompanying tour with no small power. Other songs on the album - "In Love With Love", "The British Disease", "Love Won't Work" - were equally powerful, articulate cries against the world that perhaps was made for other people, people rich or privileged, or in some way able to feel and walk through life as if it were just simple and easy and things just happened without having to fight every step of every day.
The record is bookended by several b-sides, some of which are truly forgettable, a BBC session, and a live set recorded in Newcastle a year before the albums release that saw more embryonic interpretations of song before they were finalised, which are fascinating. As ever, Rossiters stagecraft is articulately witty and enjoyable on its own, let alone with the marvellous songs. Fill Her Up, indeed.