Teenage Fanclub

A Fan Club for Teenage Fanclub! Has it been 26 years since we first heard these Scottish wonders, a young, über friendly buzz-band from Glasgow on the nascent Matador label (and back home, on Alan McGee’s shoegaze central, Creation) borrowing Neil Young’s Crazy Horse sound wholesale by way of Dinosaur Jr.’s contemporary harsh/whacked-out indie/punk update, on 1990’s A Catholic Education? That uneven, underachieving collection turned heads with the indubitable promise of future greatness via its underground smash single, “Everything Flows.” Ergo, after pulling a fast one to exit Matador—don’t bother paying a king’s ransom for the deleted-in-a-instant instrumental bore, The King—did indeed hit MTV paydirt quite quickly with their vastly improved, Big Star-ified major-label mauler, Bandwagonesque in 1991. Funny though, their “big star” never did rise further in sales thereafter, for little discernable reason. But a steadfast adoring fan base knows they’ve done their greatest work since, while earning beloved elder statesman status. Generations of great Glasgow groups have gushed over them, lured by a cornucopia of incredibly written tunes poured out with more of a classic Byrds bent—especially on two utter classics, 1995’s Grand Prix and 1997’s Songs From Northern Britain—right through their most recent, gentle 2010 effort, Shadows. Of course, boatloads of bands have mined halcyon ’60s influence ad nauseum. Yet with three adroit singer-songwriters upfront, and that trio’s supporting harmonic brilliance, The Fannies’ have ensured a steady stream of riches. Gerry Love alone belongs in any power-pop Hall of Giants; someday we’ll marvel that one person penned such gold for so long, from “Star Sign” through “Radio” “Sparky’s Dream,” “I Need Direction,” “Ain’t That Enough,” and “Shock and Awe.” Too, the endlessly affable, perpetually grinning big lug Norman Blake has matched him, with his equally enduring pleasures like “The Concept,” “The Cabbage,” “Neil Jung,” “I Don’t Want Control of You,” “Cells,” “Baby Lee,” and “Sometimes I Don’t Need to Believe in Anything.” And like the George Harrison of the band, the often less noticed Raymond McGinley sometimes manages to steals the show, a la “About You” and “Your Love is the Place That I Come From.” To play these timeless tunes is to find yourself singing them—the foundational aspect of all immortal power-pop—while getting lost in the Radio City-era Alex Chilton power-sweetness of McGinley and Blake’s twin guitars and the group’s upbeat yet heavy bounce. If only they came out with albums more often… (Joy! A new tenth one is finally imminent!)

Jack Rabid
editor and publisher,
The Big Takeover, drummer Springhouse