Artist of the Month: Teenage Fanclub
July 1, 2018
With a new tour and a comprehensive set of vinyl reissues on the way, our Artist of the Month for July is cult alt. rock Glaswegian outfit Teenage Fanclub…
You take Teenage Fanclub for granted at your peril. Such is their gift for effortlessly melodious, chiming and harmonious guitar music, equally at home among rock, folk and pop crowds, that it’s all too easy not to pay them proper heed.
And while Teenage Fanclub are more than happy to acknowledge the influence of the likes of Big Star, the Byrds and the Beach Boys, the band is blessed with plenty of songwriting talent of their own.
Singer-guitarist Norman Blake, singer-bassist Gerard Love and singer-guitarist Raymond McGinley are all well up to the task of turning their influences into a thing of beauty that’s wholly their own.
Formed in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, and emerging from Glasgow’s C86 scene, it took a little time for Teenage Fanclub to settle upon on their sound. Once there, they set about seducing a generation. Their breakthrough came with their evergreen third album, and their first for the famous Creation label – 1991’s ‘Bandwagonesque’.
A tongue-in-cheek reference to the media’s obsession with Seattle’s early 90s musical output, the album brought them to a wider audience thanks to a combination of sharp song writing, distorted guitars and uplifting harmonies.
Looking back from the vantage point of the closing overs of this decade, it’s easy to see why Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Bandwagonesque’ beat off competition from the likes of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’, My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’ and REM’s ‘Out Of Time’ to be declared ‘Album Of The Year’ by Spin magazine.
Its follow-up, ‘Thirteen’, has come to weather the years well. Despite the lukewarm reception that greeted the album in 1993, ‘Thirteen’ has been re-appraised and re-evaluated in the intervening years and now stands confirmed as an album of power and masterful songwriting.
But whatever the earlier critical barbs, the band returned at the height of Britpop in 1995 on their own terms with ‘Grand Prix’. Paradoxically, the band’s three songwriting talents, each with their own distinct approaches, coalesced to create a unified statement of intent.
Boasting the hits ‘Mellow Doubt’, ’Sparky’s Dream’ and ‘Neil Jung’, ‘Grand Prix’ prompted no less an authority than label mate Liam Gallagher to declare them “the second best band in the world.”
You’d be forgiven for expecting Teenage Fanclub to have peaked at this point, but with 1997’s magnificent ‘Songs From Northern Britain’ the band proved that not only had they lost none of their magic, they also possessed the ability to take stock of their lives, writing with a maturity and authority that reflected both the band and their audience.
Released in 2000, ‘Howdy’ is a consolidation of all the things that made you love Teenage Fanclub in the first place. Those three-part harmonies, exquisite arrangements and insistent melodies remain firmly in place, and this album stands as a fine example of masters at work.
And now these classic albums are to be re-issued on vinyl. Re-mastered from the original tapes at Abbey Road and pressed on to 180g vinyl, each album will come with a bonus two-track 7” single featuring contemporaneous B-sides or rarities – with the majority on vinyl for the first time.
Whether you’re re-affirming your feelings for Teenage Fanclub or falling in love with them for the first time, these are re-issues for listeners of distinction with music that’ll last you a lifetime.
Ain’t that enough?
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