Don’t Look Back in Anger by Daniel Rachel review — the fallacy of Cool Britannia

An evocative oral history of the 1990s charts the rapid rise and grotesque fall of Britpop. Review by Victoria Segal

Working the red, white and blue: the Spice Girls in 1997
Working the red, white and blue: the Spice Girls in 1997RAY BURMISTON/GETTY IMAGES

The Sunday Times, August 25 2019, 12:01am

A preserved shark, a Spice Girl in a Union Jack dress, Noel Gallagher chatting to Tony Blair at No 10… As with any cultural moment, it’s easy to blur the subtleties, to condense the concept of Cool Britannia into a few red, white and blue splashes that, as time passes, stand for the whole picture. Daniel Rachel’s A-list, A-grade oral history of the Britpop 1990s, broadly outlined here as the years between the explosion of acid house and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997, generates a more fluid portrayal than the headlines suggest, high-calibre interviewees from music, art, comedy and politics offering mercurial perspectives on a time that began with the promise of outlaw creativity, but as the winds changed quickly hardened…

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