In the mid-nineties Alan McGee, the head of indie label Creation, was heralded as the man who discovered Oasis. He received a ‘Godlike Genius’ award from NME, was courted by the Labour Party as part of their Cool Britannia schtick and subsequently failed to sign anyone to his label that came close to matching Oasis’ success. Not that that’s particularly surprising of course, the success of Oasis on such a small, independent label was almost unprecedented and to replicate it would’ve been akin to collecting your second lottery jackpot. However it is fair to say having Alan McGee’s endorsement at that time carried a fair amount of kudos, but also led to impossible expectations and comparisons in the shadow of the Gallagher brothers’ behemoth.
And so enter 3 Colours Red, to sup at the poisoned chalice. By any normal measure of a band on an indie label in the mid-nineties 3 Colours Red were a success, they had already created a buzz prior to signing with Creation. Their limited edition single This Is My Hollywood, released on Fierce Panda, had sold out in record time, instantly becoming a collector’s item and putting the band into the shop window. They had pedigree too, guitarist Chris McCormack was the brother of Danny from The Wildhearts (yep, them again) and narrowly missed out on being in Honeycrack; second guitarist, Ben Harding had been in the highly thought of Senseless Things; drummer Keith Baxter had been in Skyclad and heartthrob singer/bassist Pete Vuckovic had cut his teeth in Diamond Head’s touring band.
The excitement around them grew as they earned their spurs on the live circuit, landing a coveted spot on the Sex Pistols’ reunion show at Finsbury Park and being heralded as one of the two best live bands in the world by Alan McGee – the other being Oasis, of course. Coupled with this Kerrang! had latched onto the fact that McCormack had cut his own – and his fellow band member’s – hair into distinctive matching hedgehog spikes, a feat he repeated with anyone brave enough to go near him while he wielded his scissors. His victims included everyone in the Wildhearts and even a ‘lucky’ winner of a Kerrang! competition.* It was a gimmick but it garnered them column inches and notoriety even before their debut album was released. But by any reasonable measure it worked. Pure reached 16 in the album charts and birthed a clutch of Top 40 singles, in truth though almost any of the songs on the album could have been chosen as a single, such was the sing-along quality of their punk-pop. Critical reception was mixed, the mainstream press were largely dismissive, the rock press enamoured. They graced Kerrang’s cover on numerous occasions and made various television appearances. Follow up album, Revolt, appeared to continue the upward trajectory, lead single Beautiful Day peaking at no. 11. But behind the scenes things weren’t as rosy as they seemed. The relationship between Vuckovic and the rest of the band had always been a little fractious and even before the release of Revolt he had come very close to quitting the band, the chart success wasn’t enough to heal the rift. 3 Colours Red disbanded. Perhaps if they’d stayed together greater things could have been achieved but by the time they reformed in 2005 the moment had gone and the reunion was short lived.
In truth they were never going to be the next Oasis, but that shouldn’t detract from a short but impressive career and the fact that in Pure they left behind them a true BritRock classic.
*who, incidentally, went on to write the very blog you’re reading now.