Hopper made an impressive start within the UK indie scene in 1995, but they seemed to achieve more recognition for their famous fans than for their own music. The band formed in 1992, when Rachel Morris (vocals) started working with Paul Shepperd (guitar). Once a rhythm section of Chris Bowers (bass) and Matt Alexander (drums) had joined, the band released two well-received singles on the indie Damaged Goods Records. Morris’ impassioned, slightly folky vocals attracted the attention of Factory Records svengali Tony Wilson, who made the band the first signing to his new Factory Too operation and then recruited ex-Suede guitar deity Bernard Butler to produce their debut album. Two further singles, the punky ‘Wasted’ and the soaring ‘Bad Kid’, did well on the UK indie charts but did not achieve the mainstream breakthrough that other guitar bands seemed to be making. Butler (who described Morris as ‘quite psychotic’) laced their guitar-based sound with sweeping strings that echoed some of Suede’s more epic moments, creating a somewhat bombastic, radio-friendly record that seemed to be partly targeted at the US market but English And French was dismissed as a second-rate Sleeper -clone by many critics, with Melody Maker rating it as ‘a lot of shite’ and ‘foot-chewingly tedious’. It does remain to be seen whether, in the wake of the Cranberries and Skunk Anansie, there is room for another guitar band of slightly anonymous blokes fronted by a big female voice and personality.
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