Creation Records was founded in 1983 by Alan McGee, Dick Green, and Joe Foster. Previously known as Creation Artifacts, the label would go on to be hugely influential in the late 1980s and early 1990s, releasing a slew of albums that would come to dominate and define the shoegaze sub-genre.
In the early 1990s, Creation partnered with Sony Music, and the latter released Creation albums outside of the UK. Arguably, that may have led to some of the success in the United States of one particular artist toward the end of this list. Stay tuned for that.
Ultimately, the label folded in 1999, but its impact and influence on alt rock and indie music has only grown over the years.
Today, I’m sharing 5 essential albums from Creation Records, and as found on the video I compiled below, I’ll be dropping in a notable 6th as a bonus simply because it’s not yet in my collection.
The House of Love – The House of Love (1988)
The alternative rock back The House of Love begins my list with their self-titled LP from 1988. Formed in 1986 by Guy Chadwick, the inspiration and desire to start a band stemmed from a performance by The Jesus And Mary Chain that Chadwick attended.
This led to the writing of “Christine,” which is among the band’s most heralded songs and a personal favorite.
Within this self-titled LP, The House of Love gives us a variety of sub genres that were the foundation for the shoegaze sounds Creation would be releasing a few short years later. Wikipedia calls out the following: alternative rock, indie rock, neo-psychedelia, and noise pop.
You can find the album on Discogs.
Now, it’s important to note that The House of Love had a few self titled releases. Their first two, studio LPs in 1988 and 1989 respectively were self-titled as is a 1987 compilation out of Germany that features early singles by the band including favorites “Shine On” and “Nothing to Me.”
Ride – Nowhere (1990)
Nowhere by Ride often rounds out the top 3 shoegaze albums of all time. If you see a list, it’s probably in that spot. Nowhere is the band’s debut LP from 1990 and like The House of Love, it had deep alternative rock leanings.
Where other bands drenched their sound in a wall of noisy guitars or created a surreal soundscape through dreamy melodies, Ride found a comfortable, more accessible middle ground. Sure, they employed both of those opposing traits, but the pop-centric melodies really set them apart.
Give “Taste” a listen and you’ll hear what I mean.
The album debuted in the UK charts at 11, a record for Creation at the time. While the albums that followed never quite lived up to the success of Nowhere, they still are championed by fans of shoegaze and 90s indie rock.
“Vapour Trail” is likely their most well known and the most beloved track of fans.
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)
Taking two years to record and credited as nearly bankrupting Creation in the process, Loveless by My Bloody Valentine is truly an essential. Recorded between February 1989 and September 1991, a whopping 19 different studios were used to record it a variety of engineers, at an estimated 250,000 British pounds (about half a million today).
It is the epitome of Creation.
Yet Loveless is anything but. It is the quintessential shoegaze album, topping damn near every shoegaze countdown and influencing countless indie rock bands that followed.
This album defined the noisier side of shoegaze with an overwhelming wall of distorted guitars. You can hear this on opening track “Only Shallow”
The one that really drew me to the band, though, was “When You Sleep.”
Slowdive – Souvlaki (1993)
I recently covered the “Hide Yer Eyes” bootleg, noting that it contained a slew of recordings from Slowdive between their debut LP Just for a Day (from 1991) and their follow up Souvlaki (from 1993). If you haven’t checked out that video, it goes deeper into the mindset of the band after failing to gain favorable nods from critics after their debut LP.
After 40 or so songs were written and recorded to demo, McGee discarded most of them, calling them “shit.” Slowdive returned to the studio and the result was Souvlaki, an album that often follows Loveless on top shoegaze album lists and comes in at #2.
This is the dreamier, more surreal sound of shoegaze, pulling some influence from Loveless and some from bands like Cocteau Twins. “Alison” often gets credited as one of the top songs on the album.
Sadly, at the time, it received just as mixed reviews as the band’s debut. Dave Simpson of Melody Maker stated: “I would rather drown choking in a bath full of porridge than ever listen to it again.” Given that it was originally shunned by critics is astonishing in retrospect, especially given the acclaim it receives these days.
Slowdive recently released a new song called Kisses off their forthcoming LP Everything is Alive. That album is slated for a September 2023 release, 30 years after the band gave us Souvlaki.
Saint Etienne – Good Humor (1998)
While it appears Good Humor is the only Saint Etienne album physically released on Creation Records, the electro-pop and euro-dance trio out of the UK is no stranger to the label. Their debut LP Foxbase Alpha has a “phonographic copyright” credited to Creation as well.
Good Humor was quite a bit of a departure from the electro-pop and dance-pop sounds Saint Etienne was known for. Tiger Bay, their third album — Good Humor being their fourth — strayed a bit as well with more acoustic track, but still fit comfortably into dance and synth pop genres.
Good Humor didn’t fit those, though. Here they give us something that blends dreamy pop sensibilities with Bossa Nova.
It’s important to note that Saint Etienne’s primary label Heavenly had strong ties to Creation Records. Founder Jeff Barrett worked in the early 1980s as a record store manager and live music promoter, often putting on shows featuring notable Creation Records bands of the day. Creation ultimately brought Barrett on as a full-time employee, where he worked between 1985 and 1988.
He founded Heavenly in 1990, and the single for “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” by Saint Etienne was among the first few releases the new label put out. So, the parallel between Heavenly and Creation is no surprise.
While not on Creation, Good Humor was reissued recently on green splatter vinyl. That’s the version I have and I covered it on FensePost a few months ago.
BONUS: Oasis – Definitely Maybe (1994)
Despite it not being in my collection, I have to highlight one more. In my video at the top of this post, I listed it as a bonus, but here I just extended the list to six from five.
In the years after the original shoegaze era, the most notable release on Creation was undoubtedly the debut LP by brit-pop outfit Oasis. Released in 1994, Oasis exploded onto the UK airwaves and any thought of shoegaze dwindled in favor of a burgeoning Brit Pop scene.
That brit pop sound ultimately found its way into the US, receiving widespread mainstream airplay here as well, though delayed slightly. Here’s “Live Forever” off Definitely Maybe:
The Continuing Influence of Creation Records
There’s my six-album list of essential albums from Creation Records. However, plenty of other greats were released on Creation that haven’t made it into my collection. In lists covering the label, you’ll find releases by Primal Scream, Swervedriver, The Cramps, Teenage Fanclub, and The Jesus and Mary Chain. The list goes on.
What’s your favorite album on Creation Records that’s in your collection? Let me know in the comments below!