Teenage Fanclub

From Academic Kids

Teenage Fanclub is a British pop-rock band from Glasgow, Scotland, founded in 1989. They are well known for their devotion to chiming, Byrds-esque guitars and harmony vocals.

Song-writing duties are shared between the three permanent members of the group: Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley, and Gerard Love, but there have been a succession of other members - mostly drummers - including Brendan O’Hare (later of the Telstar Ponies and Mogwai), Francis MacDonald (a prime-mover in the C86 scene, later of the BMX Bandits, and the only person on this list to have the distinction of being a member of the band more than once; he was the drummer in the original lineup, and is once again in the band having rejoined after Paul Quinn's departure during the Howdy sessions), Finlay MacDonald (brother of Francis, and the only non-drummer in this list - a keyboardist) and Paul Quinn.

For anybody interested in the music of sixties West Coast bands like the Beach Boys and Byrds, and their seventies counterparts Big Star, Teenage Fanclub are the essential contemporary equivalent. Born from Glasgow's charmingly low-budget C86 scene just as grunge exploded, Teenage Fanclub started out as a noisy, chaotic band, as can be heard in A Catholic Education. From this album, only Everything Flows is an essential song, though the album as a whole represents an interesting mix of harmony and dischord. Follow up The King is widely panned, and probably for good reason; it consists of a number of self-confessedly shambolic guitar thrashes and an ironic cover of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" (also memorably demolished by Sonic Youth in their Ciccione Youth guise), and was produced at great speed in order to fulfil the terms (although not the spirit) of an existing American record deal with Matador Records. It was Bandwagonesque, released on Geffen in the US and Creation Records in the UK, which brought them commercial success; more deliberately constructed, the hooks became stronger, the guitar riffs were brought under control and the harmony vocals for which they are renowned took shape. The followup, Thirteen, is almost identical in style, and remains perhaps the most under-rated of Teenage Fanclub's albums; it suffered scathing reviews at the time of release, possibly motivated by a backlash against the critical praise heaped on Bandwagonesque (which won Spin magazine's 1991 end-of-year poll, beating Nirvana's Nevermind, their Creation stablemates My Bloody Valentine's album Loveless, and R.E.M.'s hugely successful Out of Time). Grand Prix, their fourth album, is generally regarded as the high-water mark of their career thus far; songs such as Sparky's Dream, Neil Jung and Going Places approached pop perfection whilst remaining uncomplicated affairs. At around the time of this release, Liam Gallagher of Britpop favorites Oasis called the band "the second best band in the world" - second, of course, only to his own outfit.

Songs From Northern Britain followed Grand Prix and featured a more acoustic sound, which was retained for their next album Howdy (released on Columbia Records in the UK after the demise of Creation). Their final release on a Sony label, 4766 Seconds - A Shortcut to Teenage Fanclub, attempted to collect together the best bits of these albums. This was no easy task, given the strength of the band's back catalogue - songs such as Alcoholiday and Verisimilitude would merit a place on most band's best-ofs, but were omitted here.

A new album, Man-Made, was released on 2 May 2005 on the band's own PeMa label. It was recorded in Chicago in 2004, and produced by John McEntire of Tortoise.

Discography

  • A Catholic Education (1990)
  • The King (1991)
  • Bandwagonesque (1991)
  • Thirteen (1993)
  • Grand Prix (1995)
  • Songs from Northern Britain (1997)
  • Howdy! (2000)
  • 4766 Seconds - A Shortcut to Teenage Fanclub (2003)
  • Man Made (2005)

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