The inexorable rise ofTeenage Fanclub continues and. with their second album. Bana'iwzgonesque. about to be released. its time for Alastair Mabbott to quit fannying around and speak to them.
he 71st setback ofa wet and catastrophic day occurs when l checkout various doodads of the cumbersome recording equipment I've been forced to use since the Walkman with the built—in microphone went. well. walkies. With a
Teenage Fanclub appointment looming. the L
microphone is adamantly refusing to adopt any mode other than utterly nonfunctional. leaving me with no alternative. Another microphone must be tracked down and bought. with only eight shopping minutes to closing time and no way to test whatever I can get my hands on in that time.
‘Steady yourselves. boys.‘ I warn the band on my arrival at their rehearsal space. ‘This is some serious equipment.‘ And thus emerges setback No 73 (the 72nd was a head-to-toe drenching from a pedestrian-loathing trucker who took it into his head to belt at top speed through every puddle on Argyle Street). The jack on the microphone is the wrong size for the socket on the tape recorder. and the echoes of an ugly snapping noise inside my skull reverberate around the room for some seconds afterwards.
Brendan ()‘l lare. the drummer. yes. the drummer. comes to the rescue. Now Brendan may be the kind ofchap who likes to show off by balancing on the backs of wobbly chairs. and is the only drummer I can think of who spends almost as much time wandering around the stage as sitting at his
L-_.__. __ .. ,. . __.- 15 The List l l — 24 October 1991
kit playing. but. by thunder. he‘s a good man in a tight spot.
‘Try plugging your headphones into the mike socket.‘ he suggests. and Norman Blake. the Fanclub‘s singer and resident sex puppy. can‘t believe what he‘s hearing. ‘l‘ve recorded acoustic guitar like that .’ continues Brendan. lowering his voice. ‘lt‘s just a different kind oftransducer.‘
And just listen to this playback of Norman: ‘ll”e're doing a bed-in. l.as't_vear. wedii/ "The Ballad ()fJU/zn xini/ Yoko" as a single, this year we're having a lied-in at ( 'reation in a king-size bed. We're inviting some press. and then at the end oft/1e day we're going to re(‘()r(1”(}ii'e l’eaee.‘i ('lianee" and re/ease it as a single. xietua/iv. ii sliini/i/ have been the Amsterdam Hilton. but it was a bit late in the day to get the rooms. '
Did you hear that'.’ ('lear as a bell. or what'.’
‘lt‘s just a different kind oftransducer.’ mutters Brendan again. nodding sagely. and I'm damned ifthe rest of the band aren‘t looking at him with renewed respect. It's hard to accept that this is the same man who will happily take to the stage in a dress when the fancy takes him. and not even worry about shaving his beard off first.
The Fannies. as they‘re affectionately known. could be a band formed by the gang ofendearing sink thieves in Thai Sinking Feeling. ()ffstage. they‘ve got the repartee that. in the (ills. kids weaned on Beatles films and The Monkees. believed pop groups actually talked like. live. they’re almost too
good to be true: loose. unpretentious and possessed ofsome glorious tunes which are. underneath the rock'n‘roll grunge they love. simple bubblegum pop. And their charm I hasn‘t gone unnoticed. The band are on the l threshold of Big Things. They also have a
not entirer undeserved reputation as zany funsters. but more on that later.
Teenage Fanclub started out in Bellshill in 108‘). founded by Norman Blake and Raymond McUinley after the demise of their old group The Boy l lairdressers. A mere two weeks after they were joined by Brendan ()‘l lare and (ierry love. they were recording their first album on a budget of £200” 7 partly because they felt a band who didn't have any l.l’s out didn‘t really merit much attention. By the time it was released. under the title xl ('at/m/ie Iii/iieation. their name was being bandied around as one of the best live bands in Scotland. This has been their job for a year and a half. with initial help from the linterprisc Allowance Scheme. But no (iovernment scheme could generate a song like 'liverything lilows‘. the standout track on xi ('at/m/ie lidneation and the song that proved without doubt that
something very special was happening up there in Bellshill. A show at the New Music Seminar in New York last summer was hailed by the Village l'oiee as the best set of the whole event.
Since then. they have followed up
'Iiverything Flows’ with the naggingly
catchy ‘(iod Knows lt‘s ’l‘rue‘ and the near-hit ‘Star Sign‘. released a mainly instrumental album called The King. the full : truth of which they don‘t own up to in this conversation. earned slavering praise from l the press and adoring loyalty from a growingj