❉ Ange Chan reviews a new deluxe edition of the technopop punk rockers’ 1996 debut.
The decade of ‘Cool Britannia’ was a showcase decade for all things ‘British’, but in the definitive era of Britpop, music wasn’t all just about Blur v Oasis; there were some strong female-led bands doing the circuits such as Elastica and Sleeper, but none more so than Republica. Their kick-ass, anthemic guitar-fuelled tracks ensured that their songs were not to be messed with and equally not to be forgotten. Widely described as ‘technopop punk rock’ they delivered strong lyrics with heart and angst by their feisty lead singer Saffron, an exotic creature who looked like she would lure you in with her looks and then bite your head off without drawing breath. In reality, Saffron is the kindest person you could meet and is passionate about animal welfare. The current band line-up includes long-standing original members Tim Dorney and Johnny Male along with Conor Lawrence.
Their first, self-titled, album originally came into the public’s consciousness in 1996 and following the huge success of songs such as Drop Dead Gorgeous and Ready to Go, the album was a big success on both sides of the Atlantic and across Europe, reaching the Top 3 in the UK charts and Number 1 in the UK Dance Charts.
One of those ‘all killer, no filler’ albums with every track a dancefloor-enhancing banger of a tune, Republica starts strongly with the anthemic Ready to Go which has since been used extensively in every media imaginable worldwide including advertising, film and TV. The album continues with the same unapologetic vibe with Bloke which is gently mocking what it meant to be ‘a man’ in the ‘New Lad’ era. Bloke was originally released as a single in 1995 to test the waters, but only reached the lower echelons of the Top 100 pop charts, at number 85.
Following Bloke quite aptly is the track Bitch which is unashamedly ‘I want, I want, I want!’ Get Off and Picture Me lead very nicely into midway through the album. Drop Dead Gorgeous chronicles the dubious morals of an ex but justifying it by the fact that he is ‘drop dead gorgeous’. It was a massive hit for the band, reaching Number 7 in the UK Charts. I remember, that at the time it was being played EVERYWHERE and it hit the Top 40 in Europe most notably in Germany, Ireland, Holland, Sweden and Switzerland as well as chart positions in New Zealand and America. It is interesting that the track got nowhere in Australia, bombing at Number 131 of their charts. There’s no accounting for taste as, in my opinion, it’s a brilliant track full of life, joy and attitude.
The album progresses with Out of the Darkness, which is a trancy-vibed track with balls. This song was Republica’s debut single originally entitled Out of this World, which was later re-worked into the album track Into the Darkness. In its original form, this track received its first radio airplay courtesy of the much-missed legend of the alternative music scene at Radio 1, namely the inimitable John Peel.
The angst continues with Wrapp and Don’t You Ever, then ends on a high with Holly which could have easily been another single for Republica. The rest of CD1 includes some bonus tracks and radio edits. CD2 offers some extended remixes and alternative mixes of sings from the album and CD3 contains more ‘club based’ remixes from the likes of The Chemical Brothers. Across the three CDs there are in fact 32 bonus tracks.
The re-issued package by Cherry Red is accompanied by a glossy booklet containing song lyrics and a foreword from Saffron which makes for very entertaining reading! It also includes an illustrated discography, and additional photos. It’s a lovely package for fans old and new.
So, what’s next for Republica? They’re currently putting the finishing touches to their forthcoming new album, and they have a string of live dates lined up during 2020.
They’re back – and ready to go!
❉ Republica: ‘Republica’, Deluxe 3CD Edition will be released February 28, 2020 by 90/9 Records, part of the Cherry Red group. RRP £17.99. Click here to order directly from Cherry Red. As they put the finishing touches to their long-awaited new studio album, Republica have a string of live dates lined up for 2020, coinciding with the release of this Deluxe Edition.
❉Ange Chan is a poet, author and regular writer for We Are Cult. She has written two novels and is currently working on her third.