Buenos Dias, and welcome to the artist spotlight on Louise Wener and some blokes Sleeper.
They were the apotheosis of bands with the star power chanteuse with , you know, some instruments behind them.‘Sleeperbloke’ became the term used for the guys at the back who aren’t the singer. (See also Paramore, Garbage, Echobelly etc) if Sleeper are mentioned at all in the press now it’s because of this. Which I think sells them short. They were several cuts above the Britpop forgetables.
They formed in 1992 , with guitarist Jon Stewart and Louise Wener recruiting Diid Osman and Andy Maclure via an ad worded “ Bass player and drummer wanted. Influences The Pixies and The Partridge family”
Their first release, in 1993, Alice certainly had the Pixies influence. It also failed to chart. It isn’t terrible but it doesn’t really have an identity. At points in the song she seems to adopt an American accent which is confusing.
Their third single Delicious was the song where I sat up and went “ Who’s this?.
As lines go “ We should both go to bed, till we make each other sore” is an attention grabber. It didn’t really take off though, it took their fourth singleInbetweener to crack the top 20.
What probably helped with that is it came off the back of their tour as support act for a little band called Blur in support of Parklife (Which will be an album club topic so help me, Xenu)
They hit the charts just at the perfect time for the ‘Britpop’ lift. Which suggests they just had luck on their side but if it was just luck, they wouldn’t have had 8 Top 20 singles and 3 Top 10 Albums. They’d have fizzled out into nothing like Salad, Powder, Tiny Monroe or any other of the bunch of Female led Britpop era bands that you’ve never heard of but I assure you existed.
The difference was Sleeper had good tunes. Also a great producer. Stephen Street was the producer of Parklife as well as Strangeways Here We Come by The Smiths and a whole bunch of others. The Street-produced second album The It Girl was their biggest seller, going platinum, and contained their best known song Sale Of The Century
1996 was the peak year for Sleeper. Top 10 singles, a top 5 album and a spot on the Trainspotting soundtrack with a cover of Atomic. Blondie(another band with it’s share of Sleeperblokes) had refused to licence the original.
Obviously they then went the way of a lot of bands, the way of sex , drugs and …..I’m sure there’s something else we’ve forgotten. Oh. Yes, The tunes, they forgot the tunes.
(Although, rather charmingly, Wener says that while the men in the band were besieged by groupies she got nervous boys who wanted to read her poetry. “Camus was the most popular choice” –Wener.)
The 3rd album, Pleased To Meet You is …okay, I suppose. It did reasonably well but the singles were pretty forgettable.
Their time had gone and there was never going to be fourth album. I still think there was some quality pop produced there though. Definitely worth a listen if you aren’t familiar with them.
(As a side note, Wener has gone on to write four novels. Goodnight, Steve McQueen is worth a read and much better than the cover blurb would suggest.)