From my last Best tunes of 1990 post to this one, it’s like I’m jumping from one dance floor to another. I finished up blathering about The Sisters Of Mercy’s “More” with a memory of dancing to it in my high school auditorium but I never did get to dance to Inspiral Carpets in those days. My friends and I discovered them a tad too late, though we did try. As I recall, my friend Andrew Rodriguez put in a request for “Dragging me down” at one of our final dances and the DJ just shook his head in disbelief. He thought Rodriguez was having him on because he had never heard of ‘Inspirational Carpets’.
However, leap forward two or three or four years and I was dancing to this particular track pretty much every Friday or Saturday night at the Dance Cave in Toronto. Released as a stand-alone single in the UK but released on the US version of “Life”, “Commercial rain” has no depth lyrically. It contains a handful of words, repeated over and over, the only ones of which I even understood before googling them this week were: “Ah, commercial rain.” But the words are of little import here, the song was built for the dance floor.
Inspiral Carpets came out of the same acid house scene as their greater Manchester neighbours, The Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses, though they never did go on to the same modicum of success as those other two. Their sound was well-defined by Craig Gill’s funky drumming, frontman Tom Hingley’s flat but distinctive vocals, and of course, Clint Boon’s whirling organ work. This last is definitely the focal point of “Commercial rain”. It bobs and weaves around the screeching guitars and the upbeat and reverberating rhythms laid down by Gill, all ephemeral, like the sun’s reflection off a watch face or a laser beam refracting off a disco ball. It fills you up with pure joy and begs to be expelled by the burning off of dance floor energy.
Being that this is the second appearance by the Inspiral Carpets on this list and that the words about “This is how it feels” (at #20) were written by my friend, the aforementioned Andrew Rodriguez, I feel it only right to finish off this post with his words here too:
Solid beat? Check. Hypnotising organ work? Check. Mesmerising reverb effects? Definitely a check. Nonsensical but somehow sensible lyrics? Check. 1990’s “Commercial rain” (or “Reign”, depending upon who you talk to) was one of the Inspiral Carpets’ first big songs. While their sound did vary, this one epitomises them at their manic best. As a song, it also encapsulates a time and place tidily – early 90s (Greater) Manchester, at the height of the ‘Madchester’ era. That said, danceability isnt confined by time and space… “Commercial rain” is an infectious groove – and you’ll get down with it wherever and whenever you hear it. As the old Inspirals t-shirt said: “Cool as fuck”.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.