I’m off next week for another tour of duty on the West Coast of Scotland working on the puffer VIC 32. While I’m away some posts featuring a few of my favourite video clips will appear on these pages so keep an eye out. They include Hells Angels boot-scooting, Ivor Cutler, a song for Glasgow and something to lift the spirits at this time of year. See you in a few days…
Sometimes records reach you at a certain time and/or place in your life and end up meaning the world to you. Grand Prix by the Teenage Fanclub is one of those records for me. I bought it, along with the second Tindersticks album, in a small record shop in Sydney on the day I was starting a new job and had just found somewhere to stay. I love both of those records as much for the memories associated with them as the music, but Grand Prix in particular seemed to match the wonder and excitement of the new. To this day I still play it at least once a week.
So there is always that (slight) worry when a new Fannies album comes along. I know I’m going to get it, and I know I’m going to like it, but I also know it’s unlikely to mean as much to me as Grand Prix. Doesn’t mean it’s not a fine album, and they always are, just missing that little ‘I don’t know what’.
Which brings me to their latest offering, Shadows. When I write about new music on these pages I try and do so after I’ve lived with it for a while. You can rarely tell what you think about an album after a listen or two, for instance I wasn’t sure of the Steve Mason album at first but it wormed its way into my head and now I think it’s a corker (see Outside Now…). Having said that it was love at first listen for Shadows. As most fans of Teenage Fanclub know, their albums, at least from Thirteen on, don’t differ greatly in terms of overall sound, so what makes the difference between, say, Songs From Northern Britain (great) and Howdy (very good) has to be subtle and, as I’ve hinted, almost indefinable. The closest I can get is that it is when the parts, that is those different songs by different songwriters, work together at their best they produce a greater whole. Where does this place Shadows? I think it’s their best since Grand Prix.
I could go through it track by track, but you can find such reviews elsewhere. What I suggest is to buy yourself a copy and spend time with it. It’s very rare these days that I listen to an album, then stick it straight back on once it’s done. There doesn’t seem to be the time, and there is always something new to take my attention. Over an evening Shadows appeared four times. I recommend you take some time to relax into Shadows and listen to a band who understand each other, are comfortable and confident in what they do, and may just have made yet another of my favourite albums. Below is a live version of the single Baby Lee followed by some of my favourite Fannie tracks: