Not Even The Rain

A poetry inspired lyric from an album that is very much part of the background of The Charlatans back catalogue. Between 10th And 11th came out in March 1992, well after the first flush of their success with The Only One I Know and Some Friendly and when the Madchester wave had well and truly crashed and receded. Their second time in the sun would come in the wake of Oasis and Britpop with the 1995 self titled album and then Tellin’ Stories. In between they seemed a little like a band lost, making two albums that underwhelmed slightly (at the time though they’ve grown in hindsight). The band had some combustible relationships, had seen the departure of one guitarist (Jon Baker) and the arrival of another (Rob Collins) and were fixed up with producer Flood. Between 10th And 11th had a really strong single, Weirdo, led by Rob Collins funky, wheezy organ, stop start dynamics and Tim Burgess delving a bit deeper with his lyrics. The whole group at this time gave the impression of wanting to be seen as more than just five figures shaking their fringes to The Only I Know and searching for a way forward- even the album’s title suggests they were caught between back then and moving on.

The last song on the album is a hidden gem in their songbook and borrows a line and its title from poet E. E. Cummings, from one of his most famous poems, ‘nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands’. Over crisp drums, a fine bassline and some swirly psyche from guitars and organ, the band whip up a slow burning groove. Flood’s production is crisp and upfront, there’s less of the murky stew the group had live, and Tim coos some stream of consciousness words through the reverb. Early 90s psychedelia from a band finding their way. Good stuff.

‘Why don’t you say it again why don’t you
Save me again I can’t do anything
Not even the rain has such small hands’

(No One) Not Even The Rain

Four Thousand

This is post number four thousand at Bagging Area, the four thousandth time I’ve written a few words about pop music. Without wanting to blow my own trumpet too much, that’s a lot of posts and some kind of achievement- possibly also a sign of an obsessive nature and as Drew sometimes points out a tad self indulgent too. But still, four thousand.

Some musical maths for you. I was thinking about trying to do a Countdown style randomly selected set of numbers (in song titles) and seeing if anyone could use them to calculate 4000. But I’ve just spent 48 hours living in a field in Lancashire with a group of 14 year olds as an end of the school year experience and I’m quite tired so the maths is staying very simple and involves these artists- Massive Attack v Burial, The Charlatans and The Gentle Waves.

 Four Walls

Let The Good Times Be Never Ending

Hold Back A Thousand Hours

I Am Without Shoes

This is a follow up to my post last week about the various backwards B-sides released by The Stone Roses in 1988-89. The version of Full Fathom Five I posted- Elephant Stone backwards if you recall- is the CD single version, with extra guitars added to the ghostly swirl. The original version, found on the 12″ single, is different (fewer if any additional guitar parts). But what can also be discovered from the Elephant Stone 12″ single is that if you reverse the version of Full Fathom Five you get the Peter Hook produced cut of Elephant Stone single i.e. before John Leckie mixed it. Hook’s version is sparser and less produced, a truer version possibly, opening with a blare of Squire’s wah-wah pedal. So what I’m getting from all of this is that the 12″ version of Full Fathom Five is the Hook version of Elephant Stone played backwards and the CD single (and what Silvertone have served up in re-issues and re-releases ever since) is the Leckie version of Elephant Stone played backwards with extras.

There is also this which I had forgotten about until reminded by reader Michael- I Am Without Shoes…

I Am Without Shoes is She Bangs The Drums backwards with additional forwards words and is the equal of any of the other backwards B-sides. The fade in of backwards guitars and vocals at the start is a sort of slow-rush and the whole thing shimmers and burns.

The Youtube poster above has gone a step further, reversing the backwards version at 1.26 and adding it to the original backwards one, resulting in Ian’s forwards vocals from She Bangs The Drums returning at the end. According to Google the additional forwards lyrics are…

‘I’m serious
I want her
I have to be sure
I admit that I’d hate to die
Please help me
I am without shoes
I wouldn’t be selfish
I cursed myself and they laughed
I am Without Shoes
I don’t think I need to stare
Please help me
I am without shoes
I wouldn’t be selfish
I cursed myself and they laughed
I am Without Shoes
I don’t think I need to stare

These new forwards lyrics are fairly untypical Roses fare, possibly the result of Squire’s backwards lyric writing method of writing down what the backwards vocals suggested once the tapes were switched around. The title went on to inspire a Charlatans song too, from 1997’s Tellin’ Stories.

I Am Without Shoes was sometimes used as their intro music when they took the stage during the long tour they did to promote the release of their album through the spring of 1989, the tour that broke them nationally, with increasingly positive and breathless press reporting building through to a gig at the ICA where Bob Stanley said he’d seen the light and finished his review with ‘Sweet Jesus, The Stone Roses have arrived!’. On other occasions they entered to the trippy, rolling drums and bass and screeching sounds of this piece of music, built around a drum break from Small Time Hustler by Dismasters…
Next job is to put all these together- the intro tape, the two versions of Full Fathom Five, I Am Without Shoes, Guernica, Simone and Don’t Stop.


This bit between Christmas and New Year is actually the best bit of the festive season, not quite sure exactly what day it is or what you’re supposed to be doing. Into this blur of overdoing it and the general fug that surrounds us I’m going to chuck these random pieces of pop culture. The picture above shows Kirk Douglas, a Christmas film kind of bloke if ever there was one (The Vikings, Paths Of Glory, Spartacus) relaxing in his mid-century modern style home. Kirk recently turned 102 years old.

One of the best presents I got this Christmas was Beastie Boys Book, a book by the two surviving Beastie Boys and their associates that is no ordinary rock autobiography and all the better for it. In one chapter Ad Rock describes his Toyota Corolla and the mixtape that sound-tracked that period of his life in the early 90s. Ad Rock says that The Humpty Dance by Digital Underground is the greatest record since the invention of recorded sound (or something similar) and let’s be fair, it is a classic golden age of hip-hop, crossover dance hit. Based around a Sly and The Family Stone drum sample rapper Humpty Hump (rapper Shock G’s alter ego) brags about his amazing sexual prowess, attained despite his comical appearance, the boring uniformity of other rappers and the Humpty Dance, a loose, anything goes, just-get-down-and-do-it kind of dance as opposed to the drill formation dancing of MC Hammer. Sure, there may be aspects of the song that are a little dated but we could all do with a little bit of doing the humpty hump…

Two apologies- I don’t have an mp3 of The Humpty Dance at the moment so it’s video only and also the video is TV friendly so bleeps out the profanities.

Tim Burgess is a good Twitter follow and always seems like a really nice bloke. He recently tweeted this clip, The Charlatans in October 1990 at an amphitheatre somewhere on the West Coast of the USA playing their debut single Indian Rope- loose limbed, organ led garage shuffle. There’s a really nice breakdown section in this live version…

Indian Rope is a fine song, a sign that from the start this group were not bandwagoneers at all and had a winning way with a tune.

Indian Rope

Lastly, for no reason other than it needed to go somewhere and this post is as good a palce as any, here is Robert Palmer, live at San Diego State University in 1987, the man from Addicted To Love and Some Guys Have All The Luck, covering Husker Du’s New day Rising, the righteous blast of hardcore punk that opened the album of the same name.

Have a moment to let that sink in. And here’s Bob, Grant and Greg cleaning your ears out back in 1985.

New Day Rising


I’ll Be Down When You’re Down I’ll Be Up When You’re Up

Both Tim Burgess and Jez at A History Of Dubious Taste noted that North Country Boy by The Charlatans was 21 years old yesterday. North Country Boy is a wonderful guitar record, both thrilling and poignant. The Charlatans were on a roll in 1997, having come through the post-Madchester slump to find that the world was suddenly in tune with them. Another 1997 single, one that easily the equal of NCB, is How High. Opening with a burst of distorted guitar, a clever switch from mono to  stereo and then a rush of words from Tim. The song shoots by, led by Mark’s guitar, without a proper chorus. The words ‘How high’ open the verses and the song surfaces for a bridge part that changes twice-

‘Love I’m fixing holes
The ones you break up
Come in from your drive
And the hand that rocks you
Cuts you up like
Lyrics of your life’


‘Hang on to your hopes my darlin’
Don’t let it slip away
And the hand who holds you
Keeps you warm
And helps you live today’

…before dive bombing back into the torrent again. I’m sure Tim said that lyrically he was inspired by Wu Tang at the time but the main influence here has always seemed to be mid-60s Bob Dylan, the amphetamine rush of phrases and lines pulled from wherever/the ether- he even chucks in a Dylan reference- ‘pledging my time til the day I die’. There’s also the line that finishes the first verse which has always resonated with me- ‘like lyrics of your life’. I don’t think Tim Burgess is acknowledged as a lyricist but around this time he was very good at nailing a feeling.

How High

The single came with a song that didn’t make the Tellin’ Stories album, one of those songs that only the fans know about, called Title Fight- looped drums, multiple guitars and again a pile up of words. Well worth the £1.99 it cost on either vinyl or cd.

Title Fight

And May You Always Have No Shoes

With No Shoes, the opening song from the Charlatans 1997 album Tellin’ Stories, has been buzzing around my head recently. It’s a song that is blatantly in thrall to mid 90s rock ‘n’ roll, a post-Britpop shuffle and with Gallagher-esque vocal tics. It opens with some harmonica and a burst of wah-wah guitar and then drum loops supplied by a Chemical Brother (Tom Rowlands I think). Stoned and groovey. The album was released following the death of Rob Collins but he played on much of it.

With No Shoes

I’m sure I read somewhere that Tim’s lyrics were inspired by The Stone Roses legendary 1989 intro tape, a trippy and slightly menacing piece of music- a rolling bassline, lolloping drum loop and screeching sound (all sampled from a 1987 hip hop record, Small Time Hustler by Dismasters). It apparently also contains a voice whispering ‘with no shoes’. It is a valuable addition to your ever-growing mp3 collection.

The Stone Roses 1989 Intro Track

Small Time Hustler

Which also gives me an excuse to post this picture of Ian, Mani and Reni on that tour of 1989, when they were capable of blowing ecstatic heads wide open and also of turning up to play to audiences of a couple of dozen.

Over Again

The Charlatans 2017 album Different Days seems to have been a bit of an opinion splitter. A bunch of good songs with a few skippers is my view- not as good as Modern Nature but better than some of the albums that they put out in the 00s. The newest single from it, Over Again, came out on green vinyl just after Christmas (to match the green Sproston Green sweatshirt modelled above). Over Again is a breezy, lighter than air kind of song, driven by some early 90s drums.

It’s been followed by a remix by Bagging Area favourites A Certain Ratio, a loose limbed groove with Tim’s vocals intact and added whistles and squiggles. The end section in particular could have come straight from ACR:MCR. Put it with the Barry Adamson one they remixed last year.

Hurling Their Own Powers Against Them

One of this year’s treats has been a remix by Chris and Cosey of Different Days, the title track of The Charlatans latest album. Rude Audio, a London based collective, have done a completely unofficial re-edit of Chris and Cosey’s already rather gorgeous, Balearic remix. Rude Audio have pared the vocals back, dubbed it up and let the lovely, bubbling synths take centre stage.

In the picture the Fantastic Four’s own powers have been combined by this set of magic gloves and this will enable them to be totally defeated–now– and forever!! By hurling their own powers– magnified many times– against them!!

A Boy With A Stronger Emotion

The Charlatans have just put this up online, a remix of the title track from their new album by Chris and Cosey. A lovely, summery, 80s sounding,  Balearic version.

Opportunity Three was a different, remixed version of Opportunity (off debut album Some Friendly). It was mixed by Flood, originally released as the B-side to the 1991 Over Rising single and then saw the light of day again on Melting Pot, their first Best Of back in 1998. Opportunity Three is a delicious seven minute plus slice of 1990, equal parts 60s psychedelia and late 80s dance infused rock, led by some very loose drumming. The band (bass, guitar, Hammond) all swirl around, tripping out while Tim sings some sweet nonsense.

Opportunity Three

Different Days

The Charlatans have a new album out tomorrow, Different Days. The single came out at the end of April, a chiming and clanging guitar led tune with some of the six string magic down to Johnny Marr.

The new album has all kind of special guests on it-Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert from New Order, Paul Weller, Anton Newcombe, Ian Rankin, ACR’s Donald Johnson and Kurt Wagner among them. I hope it doesn’t get weighed down by this multitude of guest stars. The previous album, Modern Nature, was a stunning record, full of songs shot through with sunshine and loss, a band writing their out of tragedy (the death of drummer Jon Brookes). The single above sounds like a Charlatans song to be played on sunny days from your car stereo or heard through open shop doors and windows. That’s good enough for now.