Tellin’ Stories (15th Anniversary Issue) – The Charlatans
It is hard to believe it was fifteen years ago that Tellin’ Stories was released. I still remember buying it on the Monday it came out (along with the four singles lifted from the album of course) but the memories are bitter sweet for this was also the final album to feature founding member Rob Collins who tragically died in a car crash during the recording sessions.
Whilst there will always be debate over the merits of the Britpop era, there can be no doubt that during the mid 90s British bands were at the top of their games, regardless of what tag you want to give them. 1997 saw the Britpop movement’s fire burning out but from those embers the heavy hitters of the day produced some of their finest albums to date. You need only look at The Verve’s Urban Hymns, Blur’s eponymous fifth album or Radiohead’s seminal OK Computer to realise the significance of the year in musical terms. The Charlatans were no different, following on from the benchmark eponymously titled album from 1995, Tellin’ Stories firmly positioned the band as one of the defining bands of the period.
The Madchester shadow looms large over opener With No Shoes as Tim Burgess drawls “I know God is on your side, I’ll be the devil make you, make you mine” before the looser swagger of North Country Boy shows the band are painting from a broader palate than before.
The album seems more emotionally charged with time, the loss of Rob seems to course through the likes of Tellin’ Stories as Tim sings “I’ll wait I sow the seed I set the scene I watch the world go by” or the earnest How Can You Leave Us’ “No saint will save you this time round I only wish you were here with us now”.
One To Another was the first single, issued ahead of the album the intro still raises the hair on the back of your neck now, a staple of every indie disco for the last decade and a half, this is the perfect blend of the baggy groove with a tight melodic edge.
Area 51 provides the obligatory instrumental complete with psychedelic organs and Hacienda rhythms whilst Only Teethin’ returns to their baggy roots. Burgess adopts his best Dylan for Get On It before the poignantly titled Rob’s Theme closes the album on a trippy dub tip.
The bonus disc includes the B-sides from the era along with a previously unreleased demo version of Don’t Need A Gun entitled Rainbow Chasing that seems a million miles away from the released version and is an interesting insight into the recording sessions.
The B-sides themselves offer some gems with the likes of Two Of Us or Title Fight acting as a timely reminder that the flip side of a single used to be more than just vinyl filler. If however like me you already own the back catalogue, the extra disc with this set offers little to the collector other than saving you a bit of time changing over the singles themselves.
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