Britpop was boiled down by the media to the handbags-at-dawn face-off between Blur and Oasis. But the movement's roster of wryly perceptive bands rebuilt a sense of pride in British music after the dour US-dominated grunge invasion of the early '90s. New documentary Live Forever does just enough to make a case that Britpop was of genuine significance.
The fact that the pivotal Battle Of Britpop was drawn along class lines, between the Colchester art ponces Blur and Manchester's swaggering anthem-mongers Oasis, suggests that someone, somewhere, was indeed playing with notions of British identity. All the major players, from Damon Albarn and the Gallagher brothers to the inimitable Jarvis Cocker, chip in with their takes on the music, where it came from, and how Tony Blair tried to harness it as the soundtrack to the burgeoning optimism in the UK.
Despite still-simmering personal rivalries, they all broadly concur that the Britpop bands grew out of a sense of exclusion from Thatcher's Britain; Oasis opted for raw escapism, while Blur and Pulp preferred biting commentary. Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja, meanwhile, seems non-plussed with the whole thing, the only person to suggest that Britpop wasn't as important as it thought it was.
Yet despite the added firepower of middleweight cultural historian Jon Savage, Live Forever's sociological analysis is strictly GCSE. Director John Dower often plays it for laughs, which is no bad thing as the interviewees often hang themselves entertainingly, Spinal Tap-style. Albarn, for example, distractedly plays the ukelele as he gobs off, while every word from Liam Gallagher's mouth is pure comedy gold.
It doesn't capture the full diversity of the Britpop scene but John Dower's documentary, in its broad-brush, slightly caricaturing way, is still great fun. Top one, our kid!