The UK No. 1 album that took 17 years to achieve went to the top of the chart on 11 November 1995. The earliest origins of Sheffield band Pulp date back to the new wave era of 1978, although they didn’t make their record debut until 1983. The spring of that year brought the release, by indie label Red Rhino, of the album It and a single from it, ‘My Lighthouse.’
Further singles followed throughout the 1980s and into the ’90s, as did two more studio LPs. While Pulp and their charismatic frontman Jarvis Cocker won plenty of love in the music press and on the independent circuit, not one of those releases won any mainstream chart action.
Things took a huge turn for the better when the band signed for Island and debuted in 1994 with their fourth album, His ‘n’ Hers, which made the UK top ten and went gold, propelled by the top 40 single ‘Do You Remember The First Time’ and a top 20 appearance for the ‘Sisters’ EP. Things were about to get very big for a band who had been waiting in the wings for what seemed an eternity.
In 1995, as they became reluctant figureheads of the largely media-defined Britpop movement along with Blur, Oasis and dozens of other less enduring opportunists, Pulp scored two No. 2 UK singles in the space of four months. ‘Common People’ and the double-sided ‘Mis-Shapes’ and ‘Sorted For E’s & Wizz’ were individualistic, anthemic, British through and through and became defining songs of the entire era.
They were also the perfect set-up for the aptly-named Different Class, which was released at the end of October. Containing both of those singles and their next top tenner in ‘Disco 2000,’ it was produced by Chris Thomas and proved to be the perfect combination of cool and commercial. On the 11 November album chart, it unseated Simply Red’s Life and leapfrogged Oasis’ former bestseller (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? to debut at No. 1. Different Class went on to quadruple platinum status in the UK and won the Mercury Music Prize for 1996 along the way. Pulp would toil in the shadows no more.
Different Class can be bought here.
Follow the 90s playlist for many more decade-defining songs.