Album #156: Shed Seven – A Maximum High

  • Released: 1996
  • Origin: York, England
  • Label: Polydor
  • Best Track: Bully Boy

Shed Seven are one of those bands who were a bit unfortunate with the timing of their peak. They had some fantastic singles, but there were so many other great and popular British bands around in 1996, they basically just formed a part of that scene rather than spearheading it. When their comeback album Instant Pleasures reached #8 on the album charts in 2017, it prompted Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson to have a typically entertaining, if perhaps slightly unfair, rant about modern music being in such a state that an also-ran from over two decades ago could waltz back into the top ten.

Still, I understand that the Yorkshiremen can claim to be the only act to have had five “hit” singles in 1996, with all of them reaching #22 or higher in the charts. Four of them came from from their second album, A Maximum High: the pretty solid ‘Getting Better’, ‘Going For Gold’ and ‘On Standby’, and the elite Britpop anthem ‘Bully Boy’. Just a fantastic song!

Also on this record was ‘Where Have You Been Tonight?’, another song I would put in tier one of the genre, although as a technicality that one was released in 1995. In late ’96, the band would chart for a fifth time with the classic tearjerker ‘Chasing Rainbows’, which actually had to wait until 1998’s Let It Ride to appear on an album.

I’ve heard it said that Shed Seven were/are more of a singles band than an albums band, and on the evidence of A Maximum High, I’d probably agree with that. While not bad, none of the other tracks quite reach the calibre of the singles. At first I thought ‘On Standby’ stood out as an album track before I looked it up and discovered that too was a single I’d forgotten about. Saying that, I quite like ‘Magic Streets’, which has a bit of a Scouse sound like something The La’s might have done, while the eight-minute ‘Parallel Lines’ is a decent outro.

Even if the album might reach its ‘Maximum High’ with the songs we know and love from it, it still seems a little discourteous that I’d never listened to a Shed Seven album before today.

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