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The Charlatans – Tellin’ Stories (1997)

January 16, 2016

UKexemplary artwork by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

Made in the UK Artist #1: Duran Duran

Made in the UK Artist #2: The Charlatans

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[Album 444/1001]

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”)?

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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.

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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, Tellinstoriescoverwith 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.

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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.

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From → 1990s

51 Comments
  1. I have never listened to the Charlatans! But I have had shawarma (deelish!)!

  2. jprobichaud permalink

    I just recently purchased this one on vinyl. Not necessarily the Charlies’ best work but it has some great tracks in North country boy and One to another.

    • I have you to thank JP for reminding me to give this one a spin, the Britpop 2.0 review reminded me I hadn’t explored this one yet!

      • jprobichaud permalink

        Glad I could be of service. Their self-titled record is really good and so are their first two: Some friendly and Between 10th and 11th. I highly recommend those.

      • recommendations noted, I don’t think you’ve steered me wrong yet!

    • *a spin or 10 that is!

  3. I don’t know how you do it. Everytime I turn on the radio, it seems, all it is is commercials and people in love with the sound of their own voices yapping about nothing. The occasional song, sure, but I almost always catch the tail end of a tune and then 5 minutes of commercials. I always shut the radio off.

    • I think the secret is driving later at night – I can’t handle daytime, especially morning banter either!

      • Better idea: I have an iPod and play what I want. Problem solved! 🙂

        I don’t know if you remember, I did a whole series in a week where I played an hour of 5 different radio stations locally, one per day, and wrote down everything I heard. I didn’t hear anything that made me want to go back to any of them.

      • I had forgotten that one – but I think I’d feel the same most days. Who am I kidding, the kids control the music selections in my car most of the time these days!

      • Our car is a 50/50 split between their music and mine. Although half the time my daughter asks for Jake Bugg or the Boys! (Beasties), and my boy asks for Metallica, so it’s really hard to argue with “their” music!

      • They’ve got fine taste!

  4. This isn’t band I’ve ever heard, I don’t think. Unless I heard a single somewhere, but I mostly skipped that whole wave of UK pop and rock in the 90s. 🙂 But good on ya for liking it!

    • It was mostly new to me as well – but yes, I recall you’re not an Oasis enthusiast, the voice may be hard to overcome here. But there’s elements of others I know you do like (REM for one) so perhaps all is not lost!

      • Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Travis… and on and on and on… I just didn’t go for any of them. Ah well, chaçun à son goût!

      • I appreciate the french accents!

      • Well, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing correctly! 🙂

      • If there’s elements in those bands from bands like R.E.M., I’ll still just go listen to R.E.M.!

      • Fair enough, can’t beat the real thing!

      • Yeah, I dunno. I just never got into the whole nasally Britpop/rock thing, though a notable exception might be the Supergrass. I did like that record I heard.

        I like to think I honestly did try. I even played an Oasis album and reviewed it (Heathen Chemistry). Meh. Although I awarded myself points for trying! Haha 🙂

      • I think it was our blogging friend Rich who had the good line when he didn’t really enjoy a group/style, “I’ll let others enjoy it!”

      • Yup, nailed it! That’s a perfectly diplomatic way of saying it isn’t for me! 🙂 Good job, Rich!

  5. “If Tellin’ Stories was a swindle by a group of Charlatans, at $6, I’ve paid much more to get much less.”

    So how much was the shwarma? 🙂

  6. You drew me in with the spiffy and cool graphic from Sarca — and then you kept me around to the end with your punchy and witty prose—–I just got swindled into enjoying a blog post — nice work Geoff!

    • Hey if you’d only stayed for the Sarca art Wayne, it would have been well worth the price of admission!
      Fortunately the swindles ’round here will only cost you your time, no impact on the pocketbook – thanks Wayne!

      • You got me Geoff – A visit to your site is worth every penny I payed to get there 🙂 – BUT payment in blogworld is all about comments – you are a goldmine my loyal friend!

      • It’s funny – I will not go anywhere near the comments section on news websites/youtube etc. as from my experience, it tends to just be closed-minded shouting.
        But I these days I tell people on my site, come for the art, read the review if you feel so moved but make sure to stay for the comments, you’ll often find excellent recommendations for further listening there!

  7. You got some yellow stuff on your upper lip.

  8. Zack permalink

    I’ve never heard of this band. I may have to check them out.

  9. ianbalentine permalink

    Love this album, and I think that time and quality albums have proven this band to be more than worthy. Nice write up!

    • Much appreciated Ian – and agreed, it’s aging splendidly! I gather the new one’s pretty solid too

  10. Nice write up, Geoff. Never much liked this one at the time, but I’ve grew to appreciate it (and The Charlatans) over the years.

    • Thanks J – sometimes that’s the mark of a good record for me, one that doesn’t appeal right away but grows big time. Bowie’s Aladdin Sane is a recent one like that for me

      • Yeah – strangely enough they’re the albums that tend to stay with you longest, too.

  11. They were very good live and always a very good singles band too – I never bothered to buy an LP though.

    • At $6, this was fine value for money – if you see at at the right price point, I’d support such an investment!

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