Studio 68!: Portobellohello

‘Future retro’ mods’ debut album rediscovered – literally.

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It’s no secret that success at this rock music lark is about being in the right place at the right time, but early-90s mod quartet Studio 68! clearly missed that meeting. A year or two before Blur bought their first Fred Perry T-shirts, these North London misfits were confusing grunge audiences with some incendiary live shows full of a proto-Britpop style they called “Future retro”.

Alas, their debut album ended up locked in a police station after their label’s accountants were arrested, and their frontman, future CR contributor Paul Moody, was hospitalised after, as he puts it, “We knew we had to up the boozing.”

Only now have the master tapes been unearthed, and the resulting reissue is the very definition of the term ‘rough diamond’. Moody sounds like a singer still trying to find his voice, but it flits around the tones from deepest Weller to purest Marriott, while the band’s accompaniment on blazing rock’n’soul romps like The Other Me and Rollin’ Machine are as slack as a rapper’s kecks. Yet they make up for it in sheer ready-to-testify passion and potent shoutalong tunes. Instantly likeable extras like Double Decker Bus and Pop Star’s Country Mansion suggest they had more in reserve, too.

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock