Do you remember the bands who were part of the Madchester music scene? If Happy Mondays made the start of your week more joyful or if the Inspiral Carpets fitted your style, then The Charlatans were probably one of your favourite groups too – and maybe still are.
The Manchester-based band were involved in the Madchester music scene in the early 1990s that later went on to influence Oasis. They played the Leeds University refectory many times in their early days, selling out the 1,500-capacity venue. I remember seeing the band there and the band whipped up such a heated frenzy that the sweat actually dropped off the venue’s ceiling!
Over the years, The Charlatans have notched up 13 top 40 studio albums – three of which were number ones – alongside 22 hit singles, four of them top 10. The rollercoaster highs have been accompanied by some shattering lows, any one of which could have felled a less-resilient band. From nervous breakdowns to near bankruptcy, and the deaths of two founder members, the band has certainly gone through some tough times.
Somehow, they have not just carried on but adapted and transformed. The classic Charlatans sound – driving Hammond organ, Northern Soul and house-influenced rhythms, swaggering guitars and Tim Burgess’s sunny yet somehow yearning vocal – is instantly recognisable. And in spite of everything they have been through, or perhaps because of it, their music is now more relevant than ever.
New album: A Head Full of Ideas
Now comes this Best Of album entitled ‘A Head Full of Ideas’ that will be celebrated with a tour that visits Yorkshire, though they only are visiting Leeds.
Listening to the album you can hear how the band developed from the early hits such as ‘The Only One I Know’, to ‘North Country Boy’, all included here with other hits like ‘Weirdo’, ‘Can’t get out of Bed’ and ‘One to Another’.
There are diverse influences on the album such as Bob Dylan on ‘A Man Needs to be Told’ and even The Doors on the organ-based ‘Weirdo’.
The fans might be 30 years older in 2021 than in 1990, but what surprises me is that these songs have not aged with time – they do not sound dated.
Yorkshire fans will get a chance to see if they agree when The Charlatans visit Leeds’ O2 Academy on Friday 17 December. I can guarantee that even the casual fan will hear songs that they recognise beside ‘The Only One I Know’ – there will indeed be loads more you will know!