Label: Sony Music.
Having signed to Creation Records in 1991, Teenage Fanclub proceeded to pull a musical rabbit out if the hat when they released their third album Bandwagonesque on the “19th” of November 1991. Bandwagonesque was an award-winning, game-changer of album by Kings of Jangle Pop,Teenage Fanclub who came of age musically.
It was a time to celebrate for the boys from Bellshill, who had managed to extract themselves from their contract from Matador by presenting them with the hastily recorded The King. This could’ve backfired if Matador believed that Teenage Fanclub had deliberately produced uncommercial and unrepresentative work. They didn’t, The King was a commercial success and this allowed Teenage Fanclub to release Bandwagonesque which has just been reissued by Song music. Bandwagonesque was the start of a new chapter for Teenage Fanclub, the Creation Records’ years.
For those unfamiliar with the geography of Scotland, Bellshill, is a small town twelve miles from Glasgow, where Teenage Fanclub were born in 1989. The nascent band emerged out of Glasgow’s C86 scene, and had been inspired by West Coast bands like The Beach Boys and The Byrds. Another major influence on Teenage Fanclub were Big Star, who Teenage Fanclub would be later be compared to.
Unlike Big Star, Teenage Fanclub was a quartet, whose original lineup featured guitarist Norman Blake, lead guitarist Raymond McGinley, bassist Gerard Love and drummer Francis MacDonald. From the early days of the band, Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley and Gerard Love who were Teenage Fanclub’s three principal songwriters shared lead vocal duties. That was the case when they came to record their debut album A Catholic Education for Creation Records.
A Catholic Education.
Just a year after the band was founded, Teenage Fanclub released their debut album in 1990. A Catholic Education would later be described as a quite un-Teenage Fanclub album. The music was dark, harsh and peppered with cynicism and controversy.
Most of the controversy stemmed from Teenage Fanclub’s decision to turn their sights on Catholic church. For a band from a city divided by religion, that was a controversial move, and one that could alienate people. What made the decision to “attack” the Catholic church, was that Teenage Fanclub prided themselves on being apolitical band. The other surprise for a band who admired The Byrds, The Beach Boys and Big Star was the sound of A Catholic Education.
For much of A Catholic Education, Teenage Fanclub unleashed a mixture of grunge and heavy metal. The only hint of what was to come from Teenage Fanclub was the Norman Blake penned Everything Flows. It was a glorious slice of power pop. This was something that Teenage Fanclub would return to later. Before that, A Catholic Education was released on June 11th 1991.
Before that, critics reviewed A Catholic Education. Reviews of the album were mixed, and very few critics forecast the critical acclaim and commercial success that came Teenage Fanclub’s way. When A Catholic Education was released by Matador, the album failed to even trouble the British or American charts and was an inauspicious debut from Teenage Fanclub.
Just two months after the released of A Catholic Education, Teenage Fanclub returned with what was meant to be their sophomore album, The King. However, in reality, The King was a quickly assembled collection of tracks.
The tracks that became The King had been recorded once Teenage Fanclub had completed what would be their third album, Bandwagonesque. Quickly, Teenage Fanclub recorded nine tracks, including covers of Madonna’s Like A Virgin and Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive. Once The King was recorded, Teenage Fanclub were hoping this would allow them to discharge heir contractual obligations to Matador. This plan could have backfired.
Teenage Fanclub owed Matador an album, and as long as Matador accepted The King, then they had fulfilled their contractual obligations. Th only problem was there was a possibility that the album could be rejected, if Matador didn’t believe the album was of a certain commercial standard.
Fortunately, they didn’t. That was despite covers of Madonna’s Like A Virgin and Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive. The King wasn’t exactly Teenage Fanclub’s finest hour, but despite this, Matador released in August 1991.
Reviews of The King weren’t favourable, but despite this, Teenage Fanclub’s sophomore album reached fifty-three in the UK charts. This was ironic as very few critics thought that The King would even trouble the charts. Teenage Fanclub had the last laugh, and free from all encumbrances, they signed to Creation Records.
Now signed to Alan McGhee’s Creation Records, Teenage Fanclub like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat, delivered the completed version of Bandwagonesque. It had been recorded at Amazon Studios, Liverpool, between the ‘9th’ April to the ‘12th’ of May 1991. Bandwagonesque featured twelve songs which saw Teenage Fanclub come of age musically.
Just like previous albums, songwriting duties were split between the band members. Raymond McGinley wrote I Don’t Know and Norman Blake penned The Concept, What You Do to Me, Metal Baby and Alcoholiday. Meanwhile, Gerard Love had written December, Star Sign, Pet Rock Guiding Star and Is This Music? Gerald Love then joined forces to write Sidewinder, while the only track credited to Teenage Fanclub was Satan. These twelve tracks would find Teenage Fanclub maturing as songwriters and musicians.
When it came to choosing a producer for Bandwagonesque, the partnership of Paul Chisholm, Don Fleming and Teenage Fanclub returned. They were responsible for an album that stood head and shoulders above Teenage Fanclub’s two previous albums, Bandwagonesque.
On Bandwagonesque Teenage Fanclub’s trademark ‘sound’ began to take shape. It had been influenced by The Byrds and Big Star. Byrdsian, jangling guitars were joined by close, cooing, harmonies and a melodic fusion of indie rock and hook-laden power pop. Seamlessly, though, Teenage Fanclub could switch between laid back and melodic to a much more powerful, rocky sound. This would find favour with critics and record buyers.
Before Bandwagonesque was released, critics had their say on the album. For once, critics were in agreement, and there were no dissenting voices. Bandwagonesque, critics agreed, was one of the finest albums of 1991. No wonder, with songs of the quality of The Concept, What You Do To Me, Star Sign, Alcoholiday and Is This Music? For Teenage Fanclub, Bandwagonesque was a career defining album. Spin Magazine went further, and named Bandwagonesque its best album of 1991. Things were looking good for Teenage Fanclub.
Especially when Star Sign was released in August 1991, and reached number four on the US Modern Rock charts. Meanwhile, Star Sign stalled at just forty-four in the UK. The followup The Concept, a rocky anthem, reached a disappointing fifty-one in the UK, but reached number twelve on the US Modern Rock charts. Teenage Fanclub’s music was finding an audience in America for the first time. Maybe Teenage Fanclub’s third album would find them cracking America for the first time?
That was the case. When Bandwagonesque was released on 19 November 1991, it reached number twenty-two in the UK, and 137 on the US Billboard 200. This meant that Bandwagonesque was Teenage Fanclub’s most successful album of their nascent career.
As 1991 drew to close, Teenage Fanclub were going places and enjoying their newfound fame as the Creation Records’ Years continued.
The Creation Records was when Kings of Jangle Pop, Teenage Fanclub, released the best music of their career. This began with Bandwagoneque, when musical magicians Teenage Fanclub pulled an indie classic from their hat. The was a game-changer for Teenage Fanclub.
This was just the start for Teenage Fanclub whose carer was about be transformed over the space of three albums. When the Big star inspired Thirteen was released in November 1993, it failed to win over critics but became their most successful album when it reached fourteen in Britain.
That was until eighteen months later, in May 1995, when Teenage Fanclub released another minor classic Grand Prix, which reached number seven win Britain and became their most successful album.
Just over two years later, and Teenage Fanclub released Tales From Northern Britain, and watched as this carefully crafted cult classic reached number three in Britain. This allowed Teenage Fanclub to leave Creation Records on a high.
Twenty-one years later, and with the benefit of hindsight, Teenage Fanclub released the finest music of their four decade at career at Creation Records. This includes Bandwagoneque, Grand Prix and Tales From Northern Britain which are the perfect introduction to Scotland’s very own Kings of Jangle Pop, Teenage Fanclub.
They came of age on Bandwagoneque which was inspired by The Byrds and Big Star. Teenage Fanclub’s award-winning combination of Byrdsian, jangling guitars close, cooing, harmonies and a melodic fusion of indie rock and hook-laden power pop was a potent and heady brew. Especially as they sseamlessly, switched between laid back and melodic to a much more powerful, rocky sound on Bandwagoneque which is Teenage Fanclub’s first minor classic and of the greatest indie albums of the nineties.