Life hasn't exactly been kind to THE CHARLATANS but, against the odds, they've fought through to become one of the

defining bands of the 905. Words: Brian Donaldson I amw ’1‘

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NERVOUS BREAKDOWNS, REPLICA-ARMED ROBBERY, road death. grand-scale embezzlement. It may sound like a particularly uneventful episode of Iz'ustlimlt'rs. but it is actually the less than coy story of a mere pop hand. Liam and Noel can throw all the airport tantrums they want. but they can’t hold a single candle to those north country boys. The Charlatans.

They may have made some of their own bad luck next time you go into an off-licence. make sure your mate isn‘t in possession of a firearm but it hasn‘t prevented them

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from ending the 90s in rude health. In comparison. their

late 80s indie-dance peers have split acrimonioust (Stone Roses). blanded out into rock-stadia dullsville (James). lost their heads only to make a somewhat inadvisable return (Happy Mondays) or been utterly and deservedly forgotten (lnspiral Carpets).

While the others have fizzled out. The Charlatans' effect has been a slow-burning one. The music press were too busy salivating over the spoilt brat antics of Shaun and Bez and Brown and Squire to recognise the steady potential of Northwich‘s finest. led by the pouty Tim Burgess. The fact that they have survived and become stronger in the face of all their adversaries and adversities is testament to their glory.

And here are those adversities in full. The recording of

their second album was held back after the quitting of one member and the serious depression of another. Keyboard guru Rob Collins was jailed for his part in a shop raid (an innocent part. maintain the band) and. just as they were at

10 THE llST 23 Sep—7 Oct 1999

justice of their name. as they struggled to

the crucial recording stage of fifth album 'l'c/lin' .S'Im'im. Collins“ motor went off the road and he failed to reach hospital alive. The band continued. playing at Knebworth

just days after the funeral. all the while being screwed out of

many thousands by their accountant. who has since taken Collins’ place in choky the band wouldn’t be too upset if he was to join him in the next world.

We may have scoffed at the poetic

follow the top ten success of 1990‘s summer anthem ‘The ()1in ()ne 1 Know‘. but how ironic that moniker seems now. Are they now in place as the band of the decade“? “Well. we haven’t finished the 90s yet. so ask me next year.‘ modestly notes Mark Collins. provider of The Charlatans‘ loopy. swampy. rootsy guitar sound. ‘Who would beat us to it'.’ No obvious candidates

bit like

jump into my head. Radiohead are pretty

good. very clever. you can tell they went to college. We’re a bit slower off the blocks. but we get there.‘

Getting to the top of their game was well and truly confirmed with 'I'v/lin' .S'Iorivs. Their desire to cram the album with pop tunes was appreciated by a willing public who sent three cracking singles soaring to the chart‘s dizzier heights '()ne To Another“. ‘North Country Boy’ and ‘How High‘ marked The Charlatans as the real thing.

So. what comes after such glories? Making a carbon copy seems like the obvious way to consolidate. but that‘s

'Hotel lobbies in Japan are a

Barrowland on a Saturday night' Mark Collins