There’s A Side Of Me Unknown

There’s a lot of Teenage Fanclub on the internet right now and in real life (they’re touring). They’ve become very… comfy. Heartwarming. Fair play to ’em. The songs off Bandwagonesque still do it for me, there’s a bit more crunch and distortion about them. The album sounds like a group on the rise, in a fruitful period where the songs just poured out of them.

I’m a Taurean by the way. Reliable, practical, sensual and independent it says on the web, with an eye for beauty and good with money (ha! My wife would disagree about that last one). Also lazy, stubborn and materialistic. Like, whatever.

Star Sign

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Away Again

A quick turn around and I’m off again, with the family this time, down to the Dordogne in South West France for the next couple of weeks, stopping off in the Loire for three nights on the way back. It’s looking good.

I’ll leave you with a couple of songs to speed us on our way and to keep you happy. Rikki Turner’s new band The Hurt released a cracking song a few months back, the moody and epic Berlin. The new one is a cover of Nico’s One More Chance and is a stately throb.

The new Hardway Bros ep Pleasure Cry is one of my records of the year thus far. This song, Argonaut, was written specifically by Sean Johnston to be played on the boat at Croatia’s Electric Elephant Festival. It starts off like Weatherall’s mix of Come Together and then heads off into the sunset putting its arms around you and doing a little dance.

And just so’s there’s some screaming guitars and drawled vocals here’s J Mascis and The Fog covering Teenage Fanclub’s Everything Flows with Mike Watt on bass. It then diverts into Pavement’s Range Life and The Ruts’ In A Rut. Is it any good? Of course it is. It is seven minutes of good.

You Don’t Change Or I Don’t Notice You Changing

I’m not going to move on from this little Alex Chilton inspired run without mentioning Teenage Fanclub. When Bandwagonesque came out in 1991 music journalists were falling over themselves to praise it and then the really clever ones started saying they were just ripping off Big Star. Which led to a thousand indie kids beating a path to the record shop to buy Big Star records. I always thought they sounded as much like Neil Young and Crazy Horse, or a slightly mellower Scottish Dinosaur Jr as much as Big Star. But anyway, Teenage Fanclub have many wonderful songs. I was going to post God Knows It’s True but JC did that recently at the Vinyl Villain so I’ll go with Everything Flows from A Catholic Education instead. The ramshackleness of their early days is a joy to behold. In this song they also nailed a pretty specific feeling in the lyrics.

Everything Flows

She Don’t Even Care

I was going to post this on Monday but got carried away with Jane Weaver so it’s coming up today- plus, as I scraped the ice off the windscreen yesterday morning and tried to unfold my frozen solid gloves, and the car’s temperature gauge read 1 degree last night, it would seem we are well and truly into winter. Some media scaremongers are saying there could be eight inches of snow this weekend. And this Teenage Fanclub song, off 1991’s Bandwagonesque, is gorgeous.

December

Like A Vir…shhh

This Madonna song caused a bit of a stir in the school yards of the mid-80s when it was released- use of the word ‘virgin’ (snigger snigger). Teenage Fanclub covered it in 1991, quite fantastically, smothered in acres of beautiful distortion with sleepy vocals. When JC posted it a good while back at The Vinyl Villain it gained a takedown notice from the DMCA. When he re-posted it much later, he would not even name the song for fear of attracting the attention of the internet police. Sneaky, unnamed and hush hush. You ain’t seen me right.

Like A Secret

Starsign Creation


Early 90s Creation stalwarts Teenage Fanclub perfected that yearning, aching, whistful type of song, West Coast USA via Bellshill. In 1995 they released a cracking 7″ single, Teenage Fanclub Have Lost It which proved they definitely hadn’t. Four songs, one from each of their albums, done acoustically. Not acoustic guitars, stools and tastefulness though- acoustic instruments including shakers, flageolet, treble recorder, wheezy organs and lots of nice analogue hum. All four songs are ace, this one is Star Sign (originally from Bandwagonesque).

‘Hey, there’s a horseshoe on my door
Big deal
And hey, there’s a black cat on the floor

Teenage Fanclub ‘It’s A Bad World’

They say that the sense most closely related to memory is smell, but sound must run it a close second. I posted some Teenage Fanclub a couple of weeks ago, and inevitably one thing led to another, and I ended up listening to their Songs FromNorthern Britain album, for the first time in years. I used to have a copy on cassette which lived in the car. Back in 1998 our son I.T. was diagnosed with a very rare genetic disease, aged 8 months. He needed a bone marrow transplant to give him some chance of life, although BMT we were told was swapping one set of problems for another, though if it worked it would ensure he lived. At the time success rate was 50%, and there was a 20% mortality rate, so it didn’t look great. We also had to wait ages for a suitable donor. After spending the summer of 1999 in hospital we didn’t get a donor until spring 2000, and we were told they wouldn’t transplant after his second birthday (November of 2000), so it was all pretty tense. In September 1999 I went back to work and all the way through to April 2000 I found myself drving home from work with all kinds of thoughts running through my head. It became pretty Pavlovian- I’d get in the car and for the next 40 minutes the same thoughts attacked me, usually what we’d do if the BMT didn’t work, how we’d cope, and how on earth we’d go about organising a funeral for a one-year old. I tried to block this out with music. I’d forgotten about this until recently, and Teenage Fanclub’s Songs From Northern Britain opened the lids off some jars I thought I’d put on very tightly. The three albums I remember listening to mainly on those car journeys were the Teenage Fanclub one, Primal Scream’s XTRMNTR and Sugar’s Copper Blue. There’s a song off each one I can’t listen to now without the exact feelings being triggered and flooding back. Off XTRMNTR it was Keep Your Dreams with a line about ‘I believe that when we die our bodies become dust’ (you can see where that one was going), Man In the Moon off Copper Blue (‘There’s a man in the moon, he’s a good friend of yours, he’s a good friend of mine’: not sure why that one hit me), and this song It’s A Bad World, which is a beautiful song about it being a bad world. Which at the time it was.

I.T.’s BMT failed but he survived it. He had a second BMT in the summer, with me as a half-match donor, which worked. Which brings me back to memory. I heard It’s A Bad World a couple of weeks ago for the first time in years, and it took me straight back instantly. Bizarre. The chords, tune, words, everything were fresh in my mind and triggered the whole thing off. I daren’t listen to Keep Your Dreams or Man In the Moon. I think I’d probably dissolve or something.

On top of this I visited Auschwitz on Monday, and while there’s no real way a pop song can adequately express what I saw there and what happened there, this song kind of fits. While we there, there was a march, the March of The Living from Auschwitz 1 to Birkenau, celebrating survivors and survival. I don’t want this to sound crass but, it is bad world, but we do get through, because people can survive. I’m not sure this is a well thought out response to Auschwitz but there you go.

Sorry if this has been a bit heavy folks, but it’s been bubbling away for the last two weeks and I needed to get it off my chest. Tomorrow, some lovely reggae and rockabilly escapism.