Best tunes of 1990: #20 Inspiral Carpets “This is how it feels”

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For the next song in my best of 1990 series, I am reposting some words, with permission, by long-time friend, Andrew Rodriguez, who, back in the day, introduced me to the Inspiral Carpets. I had asked him for 200 words for my old blog, Music Insanity, just a few of his thoughts on this song, expecting to have to build a post around his words, but he delivered me this. I think it stands on its own:

The Inspiral Carpets. It is actually painful for me to admit that I CAN’T recall when I first actually heard them. In 1990 I was firmly entrenched musically and stylistically. I was a Mod. A friend of mine had already introduced me to The Stone Roses. He would later introduce me to Blur. I am being humble when I say that I was one of the first people in Canada to hear either the Roses or Blur. But somehow…I sort of missed the boat with Inspirals. It didn’t take me long to get on board however.

But this is not about me per se – this piece is about the Inspiral Carpets, who I grew to love, and who I believe have been sorely overlooked. More specifically, it is about the song “This Is How It Feels”. And maybe it is about me, maybe it is about anyone who ever felt lonely – without being depressed. Or who felt depressed without feeling lonely. That sounds a bit fucked doesn’t it? Well that is the VIBE that I always got from the Inspirals. The Inspiral Carpets have a ridiculously impressive catalogue of albums and singles.

And they were basically holding it down on their own. The British music press labelled them ‘madchester’. But they basically worked in a world that was pre ‘britpop’. They were not part of a movement. They were simply a band playing simply good music. And for John (the creator and driving force behind music insanity! who also happens to be one of my best and longest standing friends) and I, and others who really just wanted a soundtrack to grow up with…the Inspirals delivered.

“This Is How It Feels” was the second single off their first LP. It was – well it was fucking 1990. Music was crap. The song paints a sort of grim picture. Back then we were too young to fully appreciate how powerfully sucky life can actually be. But – in an era before hyper connectivity, when all you could hope for was hunkering down with your walkman at night, watching the red battery indicator light and listening to tunes…this music SPOKE. And it continues to speak. Catchy tune, simple, but down to earth lyrics. It is not a dancefloor packer by any stretch – but it is highly danceable (trust me). And thoughtful. A good mix. And – I never felt lonely listening to Inspiral Carpets.

Somewhat downer lyrics, and slightly melancholic tones…that are completely offset by the staccato drumming and the upbeat nature of the chorus. This song – there were two versions so far as I know – the North American version had slightly more ‘radio friendly’ lyrics, which I only found out recently – and there were two videos. One for Britain, one for North America. The North American one is what I grew to love – both video and song version.

But regardless – in this song you have spirit, you have honesty, and you have hope. Throw in a catchy tune, some competent organ playing, and you cannot go wrong. This is a song that you can listen to – walking in the rain, driving, relaxing, or dancing. Thoughtful. Reflective. And timeless.

UK version:

US version:

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.

13 replies on “Best tunes of 1990: #20 Inspiral Carpets “This is how it feels””

Great post! And hi, Andrew! This is another band I’ve got on my list to explore further. I hadn’t heard of them until I started digging into the Stone Roses and Oasis (a bit). The Britpop book by John Harris was when their name caught my attention. With regard to connectivity, it’s amazing that I can now catch up on all of the stuff that I missed back then (LOL) even though I was an avid Rolling Stone reader. It was just by chance what we happened upon to listen to then. Yet I sure did cherish and listen over and over to what I did manage to hear and love. It seems like I listened more fully back in the walkman/boom box days. It’s much harder to pay attention now. So – I’m looking forward to learning the Inspiral Carpets.

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Yes. We had to work a lot harder to discover and learn about new bands back then. There was lots of word of mouth with like minds. Incidentally, and maybe you already know this but, Noel Gallagher was a roadie with Inspiral Carpets in his pre-Oasis life.


Funny. You had bands like the Inspirals playing when you were at university, we here in Canada always had Barenaked Ladies and Spirit of the West. I loved SOTW but would have preferred IC to BNL any day.

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I went to uni in 1990, so it was the absolute height of the Manchester scene. The Charlatans and Ride also seemed to be playing every month, or so (at least in my memory).

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Like the previous poster, I remember seeing them a couple of times. They toured relentlessly at the start of the 90s. 9/10 folks would probably say that this song is the only one they remember, but it is a great track.

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That’s unfortunate if this is the only song they remember because they had a number of other great tracks. But I envy that you folks got a chance to see them. This is one band I always missed when they came around.

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