For many bands, too much hype in the early
days can prove to be the kiss of death. Excessive expectations
lead to the inevitable puncturing of the balloon, and todays
rock saviors become tomorrows derided has-beens.
Scotlands Teenage Fanclub, however, seem to have run
this gauntlet and survived. Topping Nirvana and R.E.M. for
Spins best album of 1991 and tapped as Rolling Stones
Hot Band for 1992, the group were burdened with extreme expectations
after the success of 1991s Bandwagonesque. But despite
the inevitable comedown and a record company merry-go-round
after subsequent releases failed to sell as well, the band
remained true to their lush brand of guitar-pop and soldiered
A slew of albums later, Teenage Fanclub are respected elder
statesmen of rock, certified by the release of a new best-of
compilation, Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six SecondsA
Short Cut To Teenage Fanclub (Sony), and attendant tour. With
its predilection for Britpop, Japan has been faithful to the
cause; their upcoming visit will be the bands sixth.
For the Glasgow-based groups roots, a look at their
online biography may prove, err, instructive. Basically,
were a group of musical mammals. We become Teenage Fanclub
whenever we are gathered in a room and undertake a collective
process whereby we interact with man-made music instruments
at loud volumes and make noises with our tongues and our throats...We
have been doing this regularly since 1989.
While the rhythm section has undergone various changes, the
core of Teenage Fanclub has remained the same, consisting
of three formidable singer-songwriters: Norman Blake, Gerard
Love and Raymond McGinley. The trio debuted their densely
textured guitar sound on 1990s A Catholic Education.
The aforementioned Bandwagonesque soon followed, with Thirteen
appearing in 1993 and Grand Prix in 1995.
Despite those albums wealth of guitar-pop gems, sales
werent enough to convince Geffen, and the band were
dropped from the label in 1996. Sony picked up their contract
for 1997s convincing Songs From Northern Britain, and
their most recent studio effort, 2000s Howdy!, which
marked a low point for Teenage Fanclubs fortunes.
Congratulations are in order! they blustered on
their website. Our last LP has been voted the 8th worst
record released in 2002 by the award-winning daily USA Today.
Although we knew Howdy! had in fact made the short-list, we
were fairly confident that it was by no means THE absolute
that could have been pretty embarrassing! 8th worst
was naturally a great relief.
USA Today notwithstanding, Japan has rolled out the red carpet
for Teenage Fanclub, with their two dates at Liquid Room last
week sold out. Tickets are still available for tomorrow nights
recently added concert.
Teenage Fanclub play Akasaka Blitz
on March 8. See listings for details.