In the early days of the media circus surrounding the musical genre known as 'Britpop', Echobelly were one of the bands, along with Blur, Oasis, Gene and Suede that loosely defined the genre in the public's eye.
The Echobelly sound is defined and lead by Sonya Aurora Madan's (never ever to be confused with Sonia) vocals. Sweet and haunting, or playful and coquettish, or sometimes all at once. Sonya's lyrics are often strongly political, gender and race being her pet issues, and frequently deal with how these issues interact with personal relationships.
The rest of the sound, in the early days, was completed by the standard Britpop lineup of guitars (Glenn Johansson and Debbie Smith, ex of Curve, currently with Bows), bass (Alex Keyser) and drums (Andy Henderson). Before recording Lustra, Debbie left the band, in a move probably related to the dissintegration of her long-term relationship with Glenn). After Debbie left, the recorded sound started to rely more on synthesisers, and live dates all but disappeared. After Lustra, Alex also left. People Are Expensive was filled out with more synthesiser and some session guys, and afterwards a new bass player (Ruth Owen).
Echobelly were often held up as the poster kids for "A Multicultural Britain", not only for their political lyrics but also for the band's own 'ethnic diversity': Sonya is half asian, Debbie is black and Glenn is, well... Swedish.
Sonya's relationship with the music press, their peers and the band's fans has always been a bit of an oddity. The press's affection for homing in on insignificant details often portrays Sonya as a radical figure, latching onto what may be casual whims and blowing them into lage issues. The hooplah created, for instance, when she performed on stage (at Glastonbury, I think) wearing a schoolgirl's uniform and pigtails. Sonya also attracts a rather large male fanbase; mostly due to the frank and honest lyrics, heavenly voice and the fact that, to be honest, she is an absolute cutie.
Possibly for related reasons, the band are also well-admired amongst their peers, notables being Morrissey (who claimed I Can't Imagine The World Without Me as one of the best songs ever written.) Indeed, there is a strong Smiths influence in many Echobelly songs. Also, Suede are friends and admirers, having covered Give Her a Gun.
Echobelly are currently involved in all sorts of nasty legal/financial upheaval. Their second manager swindled all their money, and also some which their first manager claims Echobelly still owe him, so is currently attempting to sue them for the money; which they don't have. Lovely.
- Everybody's Got One
Released on the Rhythm King imprint Fauve in 1994, the title is conventionally abbreviated 'EGO', a moderately amusing acronymic pun: 'EGO', 'Everybody's Got One'. Most memorable are the fantastic singles I Can't Imagine The World Without Me, Father, Ruler, King, Computer and Insomniac. Scream is a perfect closing track, and is a close parallel to a more personal interpretation of John Lennon's Imagine.
- Today Tomorrow Sometime Never
- Father, Ruler, King, Computer
- Give Her A Gun
- I Can't Imagine The World Without Me
- Taste of You
- Call Me Names
- Cold Feet Warm Heart
When the Britpop feeding frenzy was at it's height, Echobelly's singles King of the Kerb and the anthemic Great Things did pretty well for themselves in the charts, as did the album. Again, released on Fauve:
- Car Fiction
- King of the Kerb
- Great Things
- Natural Animal
- Go Away
- Pantyhose and Roses
- Something Hot in a Cold Country
- Four Letter Word
- Nobody Like You
- In The Year
- Dark Therapy
- Worms and Angels
Released in 1997 on Sony's Epic after a turbulent time which saw the disappearance from the band of both Debbie Smith and their savings account. Beautiful songs and possibly the most beautiful packaging of any CD I've ever bought, the colour scheme of gold/sky blue/black stated in the inside sleeve followed down to the clothing of the remaining band members in the pictures.
A bit of a commercial failure, possibly owing to the long gap since the previous release, and the fickle nature of the record-buying public and the music press that feeds them their opinions.
The title, again, is a bit of a pun: Lustra is somewhere between Lustre and, well, Mothra.
- Bulldog Baby
- I'm Not A Saint
- Here Comes The Big Rush
- Iris Art
- The World Is Flat
- Everyone Knows Better
- Wired On
- Angel B
- People Are Expensive
Thoroughly disillusioned with big-label politics, the band decided to go the tried-and-tested indie route of starting their own label: Fryup Records, released earlier this year (2001). More synthesisers than the previous albums, and also more additional musicians: they had only enough cash for 9 days of studio time to record it. Also a more varied range of sound than previously; the title track, for instance, is a gorgeous sparse instrumental accompanied by samples from TV discussing actors salaries: People are expensive.
- Fear of Flying
- Tell Me Why
- Down to Earth
- People Are Expensive
- Kali Yuga
- Everything is all
- A Map is Not The Territory
- Point Dume
There's lots of info out there. Recommended are:
(includes diaries posted occasionally by Sonya). For most other stuff, hit google with the query Echobelly and you'll be richly rewarded.