Spice Girls, Twin Peaks and Fresh Prince…Blur's Alex James on why the 90s was the greatest decade

THE Nineties is the decade we ­simply can’t forget.

Last week, Mike Myers and Dana Carvey reunited as their Wayne’s World characters to bring the hit 1992 movie back to life for a Super Bowl ad and The Sun caught up with TV’s much-loved Gladiators.

Some of the decade’s biggest pop stars are returning and the TV shows are still hugely popular.

One person who had a great time in the Cool ­Britannia era is Blur bass player Alex James.

He reveals why the Nineties is the decade he loves the most.

I REMEMBER having lunch with Damien Hirst and Keith Allen in The Ivy restaurant in 1998.

It was about 9pm. We were celebrating because Woolworths had just put in an initial order for a ­quarter of a million copies of a football song we had written three weeks earlier.

David and Victoria Beckham walked in and sat down for dinner.

At that time, he was about the best ­footballer in the world and she was in about the biggest band in the world and they weren’t even given the best table.

That was reserved for the playwright Harold Pinter, who arrived shortly ­afterwards.

And I think the moment he sat down and ordered the bang bang chicken ­followed by salmon and sorrel fish cakes was the moment I reached peak Nineties.

What a totally, utterly brilliant decade. And as we all sit here, locked down with little more than our memories to sustain us, to coin a catchphrase from Smash Hits!, one of the most popular magazines of the period, it’s Back! Back! Back!

Alanis Morissette is planning to hold a tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her album Jagged Little Pill — it still sounds fresh today, especially the backing vocals on Ironic.

Pearl Jam released their first album in seven years last year and should be touring again this year.

In TV and film, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air is back on BBC iPlayer.

Britbox has allowed fans to rewatch hits like Twin Peaks and Beverly Hills 90210, and Sex And The City is returning with three of the four original strumpets as women in their 50s.

Nineties fashion made a comeback last year — velvet tracksuits and bucket hats, low-rise jeans and crop tops and flannel shirts for men — although not for me, never liked ’em.

Cosmetics counters report blue eyeshadow being requested for the first time in years.

Supermarket Sweep is back, now ­presented by Rylan Clark-Neal who has also hosted Ready Steady Cook, another Nineties favourite.

Spitting Image returned on Britbox with modern-day characters.

Music-wise The Spice Girls, too — or at least most of them — were planning a tour before the pandemic hit.

And maybe if only to remind us that not everything about the decade was brilliant, Backstreet Boys are apparently also embarking on a world tour.

There must have been many other bad things about those ten years aside from the Backstreet Boys, but right now I can’t think of that many.

Maybe the fact it was a decade building towards an epic climax — a whole new millennium — was what gave that ­period its underlying sense of joie de vivre.

It was certainly a time of peace and prosperity, and fun, when lunches lasted for days and Britain, particularly London, led the world.

There were places to go and things to do. The capital had the most glamorous, sexy restaurants, paving the way for the wonderful things that have happened in British food in the years since London’s centuries-old, stuffy gentlemen’s clubs were being outranked by The Groucho and Soho House. By Trade, Ministry of Sound and Fabric.

Bright young things wanted to see and be seen. Every night. A new generation of artists led by ­Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin were ­causing a global sensation.

Kate Moss and Alexander McQueen ruled the catwalk.

We had a half-decent football team, too. In terms of boundaries, it was almost the exact opposite of now.

With the advent of cheap air travel, the entire world was very suddenly wide open to absolutely everybody.

Neither I nor any of my friends had been on an aeroplane while I was growing up. Suddenly we all had the world at our fingertips.

It was a good time to be young. Young people weren’t coming out of higher education with qualifications they didn’t need and debts they couldn’t pay off.

Rent, particularly in London, while not cheap was at least affordable on basic pay and if you were reasonably talented and determined it seemed there were plenty of opportunities.

90s in numbers

  • £56k average price of a house in 1995. In London it was £107k.
  • 85million albums sold by the Spice Girls – world's biggest girl band.
  • £1.46 average price of pint of lager in 1992.
  • 48p average price of litre of petrol.
  • Third of all adults smoked in 1990 and a pack of 20 cigs cost £2.

No one had cameras to hand, so people’s ­behaviour was a lot less guarded.

And there were other people, called journalists, to tell the world what you were up to so you didn’t have to waste your life in Dubai posting in-consequential ­vainglorious twaddle on social media.

I was born in 1968 and for anyone my age it seems like the Nineties happened yesterday. But it was, in fact, a fair while ago now and a completely different world.

If you wanted to listen to music in your car you had to buy a tape recording of it. Films came on VHS cassettes that had to be rewound.

If you wanted to know anything at all, from a recipe to a phone number, you looked it up in a book.

And the magazines! There were magazines on every subject imaginable. Apart from porn for women.

I didn’t even have a mobile phone until more than halfway through the decade.

Nor did anyone, but it didn’t stop people meeting in person and enjoying themselves, often doing their best to misbehave as much as possible without having to walk an eggshell carpet for fear of waking up cancelled.

Britain’s bands were the rudest and most talked about in the world. It seemed everybody was in a band. It was just like ­having a Twitter account.

Every night there were dozens of gigs in every city, up and down the land.

There were places to go, people to see and lots and lots of actual stuff actually ­happened in actual real life.

There was so much stuff generated in the Nineties it was always going to be ripe for nostalgia.

It’s said that the Eighties revival went on for twice as long as the actual decade itself.

The Nineties has never really completely gone away and I’m not surprised we can’t let go — it was the time of the last proper seismic movements in music, in fashion, food, art and loving being British.

And hopefully before too long, if we can keep the vaccines ­rolling, we will be able to party, like it’s 1999.

GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]

Source: Read Full Article