Ocean Colour Scene
Ocean Colour Scene performing in Leeds in 2005.
Ocean Colour Scene (often abbreviated to OCS) are an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1989. They have had five Top 10 albums including a number one in 1997. They have also achieved seventeen Top 40 singles and six Top 10 singles to date.
Their first single, "Sway", was released in September 1990 indie era. However, when their record label was swallowed up by larger company Phonogram their eponymous début album was remixed, against the band's wishes, to fit in with the Madchester musical trend of the time. The album was largely deemed a failure. Being in dispute with their label, the band were forced back onto the dole, with no real direction and being only able to write new music, but with no outlet for it.
In 1993, the start of the turnaround occurred. Paul Weller invited the band to support him on some dates of his tour. On the back of these performances, Weller invited Steve Cradock to play on one of his singles, and Fowler to sing on his album, Wild Wood. Cradock was asked to play live with Weller on his tour, and the money Cradock made kept the band afloat during this time.
The band recorded a demo that was sent to various industry figures. After hearing this tape, Noel Gallagher invited the band to play with Oasis on their 1995 tour. This support slot brought OCS to the attention of more record labels, and eventually in late 1995, the band signed with MCA Records.
With the explosion of the Britpop scene, OCS's music became nationally and internationally known. Their second album Moseley Shoals was released to mixed-to-positive reviews, containing four hit singles and reached No. 2 in the UK Albums Chart. They also played at one of the concerts at Knebworth House supporting Oasis in August 1996.
Marchin' Already, the follow-up to Moseley Shoals, went to No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart, displacing Oasis' Be Here Now at the top of the charts in 1997. In 1998 they headlined their own arena tour in support of Marchin' Already and played three sold out nights at Stirling Castle, Scotland.
A Greatest Hits album, Songs for the Front Row, was released in 2001.
After splitting with bassist Damon Minchella, the band continued to record and perform. Releases in 2001 (Mechanical Wonder), 2003 (North Atlantic Drift), 2005 (A Hyperactive Workout For The Flying Squad) and 2007 (On the Leyline) continued the trend of releasing new material every two years.
2004 saw the band release their first live album, Live: One For The Road. The album was a compilation of nineteen live tracks taken from various concerts. In 2006 the band released a live acoustic album, Live At The Jam House, which consisted of fifteen live tracks and also contained four new songs in "Great Man in Waiting", "The Word", "Still Trying" and "Matilda's England".
The band also released a live album in December 2006, which was recorded at Birmingham Academy and spread over two discs. People attending the gig were able to purchase the recording straight afterwards.
In 2009, the band went into the studio with producer Gavin Monaghan, known for his work with Editors, Scott Matthews and The Twang, to work on a new album, Saturday, with a release date of 1 February 2010 to mark the 21st anniversary of the band. The album had a working title of 'Rockfield', named after the studios where it was recorded, but it was released as Saturday - both "Rockfield" and "Saturday" being tracks thereon.
On 2 November 2009, the band released a free downloadable version of "Mrs Maylie", taken from the forthcoming album. "Magic Carpet Days", the first single from Saturday, was released on 25 January, followed by the album a few days later. The album charted at No. 35 on the UK Albums Chart. A second single, "Saturday", was released in May 2010 but it failed to chart. On 24 July 2010 they performed at the Wickerman Festival.
On 11 October 2010, the band released a 4-CD box set, 21, to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the band. It included many previously unreleased tracks and a brand new song entitled "Twenty One".
In March 2011, the band released a 15th anniversary special edition of their 1996 hit album Moseley Shoals. It consisted of the full album, b-sides and live tracks. The band played a full UK tour in support of the re-release. December saw the limited edition release of a double CD/DVD release of the band's Moseley Shoals gig at O2 Academy Birmingham, which was filmed on 26 February 2011. They performed an acoustic set at Lanford Live in 2011 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
In December 2012, the band announced the forthcoming release of their tenth studio album, Painting, which was released on 11 February 2013. They also played at V-festival where In betweeners Star James Buckley performed the Circle with them in Chelmsford and at The Electric Picnic Festival in Stradbally, Ireland.
In 2014 a special edition of Marchin' Already was released on a 2 CD edition and a special deluxe 4 disc box set which included a DVD of their live performance at Stirling Castle in 1998. Early 2015 saw the band celebrate their 25th anniversary with a bunch of acoustic shows around the UK. They released a double CD live album which was recorded at the Manchester gig on the tour.
The following year, in 2016, the band announced several special gigs around the UK to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 1996 hit album, Moseley Shoals. They also played several dates in Australia for the first time in their career.
On 22 June 2016, the band officially announced that Scottish musician, Raymond Meade, would be joining the band permanently on bass, following the departures of both Dan Sealey and Andy Bennett, having already playing live with the band since the start of the year.
In November 2018 the band unveiled their first new material in five years since the release of Painting. The four track EP will be released on white vinyl and available only at the band's Christmas shows. The EP received a 5 stars rating from Flick of the Finger, with the publication stating that 'Lushly textured, these four compelling and diverse new offerings are nothing short of brilliant.'
Most band members have supported and collaborated with other artists during the group's existence. Simon Fowler was one of the musicians involved in the official anthem for England's World Cup campaign, for France 98. England United as they were named also included Echo & the Bunnymen, Space and The Spice Girls. "(How Does It Feel) To Be On Top Of The World" reached number 9 in the UK Singles Chart. Steve Cradock plays regularly with Paul Weller, with Cradock also playing on Amy MacDonald's gigs.
During their peak (around the time of the Moseley Shoals release) OCS also regularly performed on stage with Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis with whom they were on tour at the time. One particular performance of note with the Gallaghers was a rendition of The Beatles' "Day Tripper", which was included as a live B-side to "The Circle". The song was also included on the B-side compilation album, B-sides, Seasides and Freerides. Noel Gallagher previewed an advance copy of the song during an interview on BBC Radio 1 with DJ Jo Whiley. The interview mainly focused on Oasis's then forthcoming gig in the grounds of Knebworth House, of which Ocean Colour Scene were one of the supporting acts. Over 2.6 million people applied for tickets for the shows, making it the biggest demand for concert tickets in UK history. There was a combined audience of over 250,000 people.
At a 2011 gig at the University of East Anglia, Ocean Colour Scene were joined on stage by former footballer Dion Dublin, an amateur percussionist, who accompanied them on The Dube, an instrument he invented.