Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Good Ship Rediscovery: The Charlatans – Between 10th & 11th

Somewhere between the carefree abandon of youth and the sage wisdom that comes with age lies Between 10th & 11th, quite possibly my very favorite of all Charlatans LPs. Perhaps I love it so because this record combines that last gasp of jubilant baggy found on early Charlies records with the beginning stages of their slightly bombastic, 60s-influenced Mancunian jangle, as well as adding just a touch of hazy, head-spinning psych rock. I find this album utterly transfixing, and I find myself coming back to it more than any of the many other LPs in the band’s back catalogue.

The very fine “I Don’t Want To See The Sights” kicks things off rather nicely, anchored by the big, mean guitar courtesy the lovely Mark Collins, and a dreamy swirl wrapping around those oh so distinctive vocals of the one and only Tim Burgess. “Ignition” has long been a favorite, the constant drone of the intro and that pervasive near indifference that lives in the song are truly special. “Leave me alone/I can’t take forever I know,” bemoans Burgess in that pretty, petulant pout of his. Magic. The buoyant “Page One” is easily dated to the early 90s, perhaps not aging quite as well as its album cohabitators, but the refrains and their accompanying instrumental bursts are still quite easy on the ears.


Mammoth track “End of Everything” sits firmly planted in the middle of the album, nodding to the band’s tendency to include at least one lengthy song on each record. A darker jangle comes through the speakers here, and the song owes a great deal to the organ play of the late Rob Collins. “Can’t Even Be Bothered” is another perennial favorite of mine, the hum of the bass and the buzz of the guitar honeying up the song and playing perfect host to the sullen yet nonchalant Mister Burgess. “Two of us waiting/for one for one to start aging,” sings Burgess, wistfully and lackadaisically matter-of-fact. To me, this has always been a breakup song.


“Weirdo” is probably the one you know, the one you very probably have heard dozens of times at dozens of indie dance nights. I couldn’t even guess as to how many times I’ve cut a rug to this very song while out on the town. Between all that glorious organ and general bouncy clamor, it’s like a more grown-up “The Only One I Know,” a big hit off the Charlatans record Some Friendly, and also a dancefloor staple. “Chewing Gum Weekend” is another classic in my mind, edging toward the sound The Charlatans would really start to flourish with (i.e. big, chunky songs with both brains and brawn). Closing track “(No One) Not Even The Rain” is yet another love of mine, waves of fuzz and golden slumbers, along with a slightly tinny beat and deliciously bored vocals. And then, just like that, the song stops. The needle goes up. And all is quiet.

It’s probably not their best album. This point I won’t argue. But Between 10th & 11th speaks to me. If you’re a casual observer of The Charlatans and haven’t yet crossed the bridge into full-fledged fandom, this may or may not do it for you. All I can tell you is that I adore this record, and have done for many years.


m4a: Ignition (The Charlatans from Between 10th & 11th)

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