Various Artists

Common People -- Brit Pop: The Story

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Like many cross-label multi-artist compilations that attempt to define a time and scene, the 2009 triple-disc set Common People -- Brit Pop: The Story is somewhat hobbled by licensing restrictions that prevent the presence of Blur and Oasis, which of course is like having a British Invasion set without the Beatles and the Stones. Of course, almost all British Invasion sets don't have the Beatles and the Stones (unless a couple Tony Sheridan cuts count), and those are often enjoyable, useful collections of classic hits and one-hit wonders, which is also what this collection is. True, there's a slight preponderance of middling music toward the end of the set, but that's due to the compilers' decision to emphasize the slow fade of Brit-pop instead of its build -- a decision that makes commercial sense, since that's where the hits were, but at the expense of some great music. Nevertheless, there's still plenty of great stuff here -- the Auteurs' "Lenny Valentino," Elastica's "Stutter," Gene's "Be My Light, Be My Guide," James' "Laid," Black Grape's "In the Name of the Father," Cast's "Alright" and Supergrass' "Alright," the Boo Radleys' "Wake Up Boo!," Menswear's "Daydreamer," Sleeper's "Inbetweener," Paul Weller's "The Changingman," Babybird's "You're Gorgeous," Super Furry Animals' "God! Show Me Magic," Suede's "Trash," and arguably the greatest single of the '90s, Pulp's "Common People" -- making this a more than worthwhile sampler of Cool Britannia.