Until Saturday’s reunion gig in Rochester, Kent, I last saw The Claim 19 years ago in the upstairs room of The Glassblower pub in Soho. They had the snap of The Who, the poignancy of The Kinks and the passion of The Jasmine Minks. I say that’s where they were coming from in hindsight, of course; to my contemporary teenage ears they were simply one of the most exciting modern pop bands.
I remember saying that night that Losers Corner was my favourite single of 1990; I also said then that The La’s album was my favourite of the year. That album sounds dated now whereas Losers Corner’s bitter beat rant about the recession stands up particularly well in 2009.
When The Claim called time in 1992, a new generation of English bands led by Blur were also taking the snarling guitars and waspish melodies of 60s mod as their influence. These new bands looked back in fondness rather than in anger as The Claim had, and found that in commercial terms nostalgia always trumps the new.
It would be overly romantic to harbour the notion that had The Claim’s 1988 album Boomy Tella – one of the great lost albums of any decade – been released five years later it would have hitched a ride on Britpop’s coattails. After all, no one ever got rich overestimating the intelligence of the record-buying public.
Black Path, a Claim retrospective, is released next week. Their songs stand testament to a band free from any intent other than to elevate pop to exalted levels. It won’t make anyone rich, of course – after that Glassblower gig some bloke collected money in a pint glass to pay the bands – but it will make newcomers to The Claim richer.
Dave Read and Dave Arnold of The Claim play a special acoustic set at the Hangover Lounge on Sunday October 11. Entrance is free.