The Charlatans – Tellin’ Stories (1997)
exemplary artwork by Sarca @ caughtmegaming
Made in the UK Artist #1: Duran Duran
Made in the UK Artist #2: The Charlatans
Ever get the feeling the car radio is targeting you specifically?
Like that scene in BASEketball, where the song lyrics are describing the character’s exact situation (“even if some guy’s trying to blackmail you and your girlfriend thinks you suck”)?
Perhaps not quite that specific, but for the past two Fridays, I’ve had a couple car music listening experiences that come close.
1) Driving home from a friend’s retirement party last Friday night. I turned to 96.3 Big FM in time to hear Billy Joel’s Movin’ Out/Led Zeppelin’s Good Times Bad Times/Bryan Adams’s Diana/Pearl Jam’s Daughter. None of the songs had any personal lyrical significance, but that 4-pack, seriously, talk about knowing your audience!
2) Driving to pick up shwarma take-out last night (deelish) and listening to The Charlatans’ How High.
Using Chandler Bing-esque inflection, could I be any closer to the target market here?
All the boxes are checked.
Left/Right Panned guitar intro. Check.
What’s the Frequency Kenneth-esque tones. Check.
Liam Gallagher-y snarl, big Verve This is Music-ish sound. Check.
Brilliant 3-minute song stucture where it’s unclear what should be labelled verse/chorus/bridge, with a rhetorical question song title, from an album title with a dropped ‘g,’ by a group with an old school term for con men…checks to all of the above and more.
Though it’s a slightly unsettling experience when you feel the car stereo is communicating with you. I was reminded of Will Ferguson’s 419, where there was an online swindler, or Charlatan, that would specifically target individuals, Tellin’ Stories via email and conning recipients out of money.
The best swindlers have a way of feeling instantly familiar, quickly gaining trust before deceiving the target and vanishing once the money changes hands. In my case, suspiciously, weeks after I bought this CD, the mall CD store closed.
So perhaps this album isn’t really as good as I think it is? Perhaps it’s a carefully constructed product, almost too tailor-made for 16-year old Britpop fans in ’97 (or those same fans, almost 2 decades later)?
If Tellin’ Stories was a swindle by a group of Charlatans, at $6, I’ve paid much more to get much less.