MP3: Teenage Fanclub - Big Stars from Northern Britain
Teenage Fanclub formed in Bellshill, Glasgow in 1989, and quickly became one of the most succesful British musical exports of the early nineties, before fading almost as quickly back into semi-obscurity. To date they've released nine full length records, the latest being last year's Man-Made. Affectionately referred to as "The Fannies", the band are well known for being heavily influenced by both the jangle pop of The Byrds and the Beatle-esque poprockery of cult legends Big Star, thus making them a sort of Scots equivalent to America's Posies.
When the band first formed they were made up of Norman Blake (rhythm gujitar/songwriter), Gerard Love (bassist/songwriter), Raymond McGinley (lead guitar/songwriter) and drummer Francis Macdonald. Subsequent drummers have included Brendan O' Hare (later of Mogwai) and Paul Quinn, who was later replaced by a returning Francis McDormand for the Howdy! album. The band's first record, 1990's A Catholic Education, had a very different sound compared to the rest of their catalogue, being much noisier and heavy, something that quickly endeared them to an American music press opening it's eyes to 'alternative rock'. The band quickly followed it up with 1991's The King, an intentionally shambolic and underwritten record released to get them out of a hastily drawn up contract with the newly formed Matador. It would be that same year, once they had signed to Geffen in the U.S. and Creation over here, that would see the full flowering of their collective talents, with the classic Bandwagonesque record. Featuring the classics 'Alcoholiday' and 'The Concept', it would eventually be named Spin magazine's album of the year, beating Nirvana's Nevermind, My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, R.E.M.'s Out Of Time as well as classics from Pearl Jam, Pixies, Soundgarden and Primal Scream. Rather strange, but not entirely undeserved, despite the awful artwork. It's an album absolutely stacked with stunning melodies and lyrics, one of those albums that soundtracks your life constantly for a year or more if you hear it at the right time.
By the time of the followup, 1993's Thirteen, the band's celebrity cycle had wound down a bit and the grungier production and songwriting of that album wasn't nearly as succesful as that of its predecessor. The Fannies would never again recieve the sort of commercial or critical success that had been heaped upon them for Bandwagonesque. Who knows how obvious victims of overhype The Arctic Monkeys will fare in years to come eh folks? Luckily for those who were still listening, the Fanclub's fourth record, 1995's Grand Prix, was a return to form and is arguably their best to date. It was around this time that Noel Gallagher called the Fannies "the second greatest rock and roll band in the world" (you can guess who he thought the first were). The more acoustic based Songs From Northern Britain followed in 1997, with lead single 'Ain't That Enough' achieving their highest ever UK chart placing at number 17. 2000's Howdy featured a similar sound, but by this time a lot of the bands early fans had clearly moved onto other things, and sales were again lacklustre. The band followed it in 2002 with a collaboration with avant garde crazy man Jad Fair called Words Of Wisdom And Hope. As a contractual obligation before ceremoniously booting the band off of their label, Sony then released an actually rather good greatest hits called Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty-Six Seconds - A Shortcut To Teenage Fanclub. It's well worth getting as an intro to the band, there's 21 songs including three exclusive to the album (one from each of the three founding songwriters).
After a couple of years recuperation, the band returned last year with another great album, Man-Made, on their own PeMa label. It got some great writeups and they toured America and Europe on the back of it (and I annoyingly missed out on their show up the road from me, the twat I am). Here's hoping they carry on for many more years. The mp3s i've included here are... First the classic debut single Everything Flows, which is just PERFECT. That guitar solo. Mmmm. We've also got the sparkly Ain't That Enough and the legendary The Concept. Enjoy. For more Fannies info try their official site, Wikipedia or allMusic.
Download: Ain't That Enough - MP3 2.55mb (rapidshare)
Download: Everything Flows - MP3 3.62mb (rapidshare)
Download: The Concept - MP3 3.86mb (rapidshare)
Discography: (click to buy @ amazon.co.uk)