The Charlatans – Tellin’ Stories (1997): Review

charlatans

Produced by The Charlatans and Dave Charles with Ric Peet
Label – Beggars Banquet

In spite of the continuing trauma and turmoil that surrounded The Charlatans “Tellin’ Stories”, the band’s survivalist attitudes to plough on are to say the least, admirable. Indeed, it feels like every article that refers to their releases begins with the tag line “In spite of…”. This record was of course marred by the tragic death of swirling keyboard impresario, Rob Collins. During the recording process a car crash took his life, and with it a hugely influential part of their sound. At the behest of his family (the band had considered splitting), the remainder of the record was recorded and edited, with Primal Scream’s Martin Duffy filling in for Collins. The band by this period, were one of the few acts remaining that could genuinely bridge the gap between the dance influenced Madchester sound and Britpop, which had gathered monumental momentum when this collection was released. Both “scenes” were vital, and although never leaders in either field, their impact was important nonetheless. In interviews, guitarist Mark Collins admitted that the band listened to hundreds of records from the past and present for inspiration, and one can hear a huge influence from Bob Dylan to the new heroes of British rock, Oasis, laced throughout the LP.

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The first half of the record is as diverse, fluid and crucial as anything they’d ever recorded, and included classic singles “One To Another” and “North Country Boy”. The real highlight though, is the tenderly melodious ode to their former comrade Collins on “How Can You Leave Us”. Sadly, the instrumentals and a general lack of quality lets the record go out on a whimper, which is sad really, because one realizes that this was meant as a salute to a band member as well as release to the anticipating public. Having said that, this collection is important to the fans, as it brought about the transition to the next phase in their long running career.

It’s an adventure in diversity, breaking the shackles to achieve a new rock pedigree, and an album of struggle and break through, of excellence and occasional mediocrity.

7/10

Track Rating
1 – With No Shoes (7)
2 – North Country Boy (8)
3 – Tellin’ Stories (7)
4 – One To Another (7)
5 – You’re A Big Girl Now (7)
6 – How Can You Leave Us (9)
7 – Area 51 (6)
8 – How High (7)
9 – Only Teethin’ (6)
10 – Get On It (7)
11 – Rob’s Theme (5)

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6 responses to “The Charlatans – Tellin’ Stories (1997): Review

  1. This is the only one of theirs I’ve heard so far – I liked it (how high is especially one of those songs that sounds like songs I tend to like!), and Geoff you’re now at least the 2nd reliable source that’s suggested there’s even better stuff in the rest of their catalogue

  2. It almost goes without saying that I’m a fan of this album. I picked it up on vinyl last fall too. Love ‘One to another’ and ‘North country boy’. And still, it’s not their best work, in my humble opinion. Great piece though.

    • Yeah, I was kind of surprised this one got in the book, particularly because I felt their impact was far greater in the early 90s, certainly in the U.K. Possibly it’s because of the tragedy that surrounds the album, and the fact that they still made a couple of great singles from it.

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