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Reviews Spiders - November 1996 - dotmusic

A&Rs are fond of remarking "quirky doesn't sell". But it's pretty obvious that no-one bothered to say that to the ultra-eclectic Space. Once again, they've bounced into the Top 20 with Neighbourhood, a song that marries wit and intelligence with a mish-mash of styles. It's their fourth hit single to date and entered the chart at number 11, just one space behind Madonna's high-profile You Must Love Me and ahead of releases by such luminaries as REM and Alisha's Attic. Significantly, the reissue of Neighbourhood has also given new life to the Liverpool quartet's debut album Spiders which climbed 15 places to number 10 last week. The band's success was far from expected, as their sound has never fitted into any of the post-Britpop guitar band moulds. But if their elevation to pop prominence caught the pundits by surprise, Gut managing director Guy Holmes has always been sure they would succeed. "We're an independent label and we can't invest a lot of money without having supreme confidence," he says. "We aren't in the same position as a major label which can afford to pour unlimited resources into 20 acts and hope that two succeed." Holmes says 1996 has been a great year for Space and Gut Records. "It's been brilliant, absolutely fantastic," he says. "It's all about building a band properly without any hype and letting the records speak for themselves. With 120,000 albums sold, what more can you say?" Space's four singles to date - last year's Money, Female Of The Species, You And Me Versus The World and Neighbourhood - all feature on Spiders. They're top class pop songs grafted to a horde of potent influences from The Kinks and The Walker Brothers to hip hop grooves. It's strange stuff, for sure, but also strangely catchy. Vocalist Tommy Scott who, along with Jamie Murphy, writes the songs is quick to acknowledge Gut's input. "It's not just about good songs," he says. "It's about them as much as it's about us. We could have signed to a major and been in the same boat as loads of other bands, but Gut's relatively small size has worked wonders for us. When they're working on our record, it means the whole label, everyone in the office, is pulling out all stops for us." Space's idiosyncratic pop sensibility coupled with Gut's marketing approach has proved to be a winning combination. But, then again, the company is used to working with acts that don't necessarily seek to conform - its first major success was with Right Said Fred. It started as a plugging company and its reputation in this field has helped to harness Radio One support for the singles and secure TV appearances on shows such as Chris Evans' TFI Friday. Evans has also selected two Space tracks as his Breakfast Show Biggie: Neighbourhood on its first release and Female Of The Species, the single that finally broke them into the Top 20. It peaked at number 13 and stayed in the Top 40 for nine weeks. Dan McGrath, who produces the show for Ginger Productions, says Gut's plugging expertise was crucial in getting them behind Space. He says, "Gut's Johnny Davis did a really good plugging job with Neighbourhood when it was first released last March. It was the first we'd heard of Space and we were really impressed by the quirkiness of the song. When you pick up on a band, you can only hope they carry on being successful with their subsequent records. The Breakfast Show

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