Tim Burgess from Manchester, guitarist Jon Baker, powerhouse keyboard
player Rob Collins, bassist Martin Blunt and drummer Jon Brookes
-all from the Midlands - form in 1989 and are instantly affiliated
to the "Madchester" scene after the twin-headed Mondays
/ Roses beast turns the music world on its head.
The Charlatans build
a fervent following that sees their debut single, Indian Rope (released
on their own Dead Dead Good label) go on to sell 20,000 copies with
very little press or airplay. After signing to Beggars Banquet they
release the Top Ten single The Only One I Know, an instant classic
and the summer anthem of 1990. The follow-up, Then, and the debut
album, Some Friendly which enters the charts at Number One, are
to many the first indications that The Charlatans have the mark
of greatness. As the band begin work on the follow-up, guitarist
Jon Baker downs tools and leaves. He is replaced by, born and bred
Mancunian, Mark Collins.
Within a couple of months,
Martin Blunt suffers a nervous breakdown. When it emerges, the second
Charlatans album, Between 10th and 11th, is an understandably moody
set of songs. Although not well received at the time, the album
now sounds odd, out of time and exciting. Two singles, Weirdo and
Tremelo Song, keep the band in the public eye but fail to move the
masses. Prior to work beginning on the third album, the boys find
themselves at the mercy of a totally unforeseen event; Rob Collins
is arrested and later convicted for his involvement in an armed
robbery. But, rising to the occasion, the rest of the band crack
on with recording, Rob?s parts being put down before he went to
jail or added after his release.
Then in early 1994,
the aptly-titled, Up To Our Hips, is issued. Ironically, it proves
to be their first complete album: a mod-ish pop record featuring
the terrace anthem that never was, Can't Get Out Of Bed, the proto-trip-hop
of Patrol and huge live favorite, I Never Want An Easy Life If Me
And He Were Ever To Get There. That summer, after a handful of feverish
British gigs, Tim is asked to sing on Life Is Sweet by long-time
fans, The Chemical Brothers. It sees the light of day almost a year
later on the Chemicals? debut album, Exit Planet Dust and marks
the beginning of an enduring friendship. Back on top at last, The
Charlatans head off to the studio to make a new record.
The summer of 1995
is a blur of festivals and the payoff comes when the band's fourth
album, The Charlatans, takes them back to the Number One spot. The
next day, nursing proper hangovers, the band record their contribution
to the Warchild / Help album, the mighty Time For Livin', a collaboration
with The Chemical Brothers. The combination of Tom Chemical and
Tim Comical results in the best track on an outstanding record.
It is the sound of a band on a roll. It rocks.
Come the end of the
year, The Charlatans embark on a mammoth British tour, doing the
usual - caning it, blowing roofs off, etc. etc. After a short layoff,
the band started recording their fifth album at Rockfield and then
at Monnow Valley in Monmouth. In July 1996, one month before the
release of One To Another, the first fruit of these sessions, Rob
Collins is tragically killed in a car accident near the studio.
An untimely waste, Rob's death deprived the music world of a maverick
genius and one of the last true rock 'n' rollers. Many expected
The Charlatans to fold but the band, obviously grieving, issued
a defiant press statement that ended; ?There will be no change.
We are rock. We?ve lost our mate.? Another irony: One To Another
is the band's biggest hit to date, entering the chart at Number
After Rob's funeral,
the band reassembled to play two gigs with keyboard player Martin
Duffy from Primal Scream on a temporary free transfer. Supporting
Oasis at Knebworth the band look unsurprisingly uncomfortable but
deliver the goods. A week later at the Chelmsford festival they
are back on form, oozing cocksure confidence, and slaying the opposition.
They destroy all monsters. After all that, Tellin' Stories emerges.
A huge forward-looking rock 'n' roll record, it is variously described
as being the midway point between Let It Bleed, Searching For The
Young Soul Rebels and "sounding like a big bag of spanners"
(© Martin Blunt 1997).
Preceded by another
Top Five single, North Country Boy, a classic slice of Charlatans
country pop (previous reference point Here Comes A Soul Saver),
the album takes no prisoners. Self-produced with help from long-time
sidekick Dave Charles (alongside Tom Chemical and Richard Marsh
from "carboottechnodiscoboogie" stars Bentley Rhythm Ace)
is the kind of record The Charlatans always threatened to make.
Tellin' Stories breaks a few more records for the band. It enters
the UK Charts at Number One - making The Charlatans the only band
to have had three Number One albums in the 90s. 1997 is undoubtedly
their most successful year so far. Check this out: on top of a third
Number One album (now platinum) they headline at the Phoenix and
T In The Park festivals, complete a sell-out tour and, to round
it all off, perform to capacity crowds at the Nynex Center in Manchester
and the London Arena.
To coincide, the wistful,
elegiac Tellin' Stories is released as the last single the band
will make for Beggars Banquet; 1998 sees them embark on a new worldwide
deal with Universal. The following year, the Melting Pot compilation
is released through Beggars Banquet and goes Top Five. Testament
to the band?s contribution to British music, the album is compiled
by the boys themselves and, in typically willful fashion, they avoid
turning it into just another singles collection. Instead of the
hits alone, it features enduring live favorites, rare alternative
mixes and some of the tunes, which have a special meaning for the
2004 sees their 8th
studio album, 'Up At The Lake' on May 17th and they will be playing
in Manchester on 27th & 28th May at the Manchester Apollo.