Archive for the ‘The Charlatans’ Category

My Bloody Valentine

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Listen: Soon / My Bloody Valentine

Alan McGee had invited me down to an early My Bloody Valentine show at London’s ULU during February ’89, just after he’d signed the band to Creation. Seemed like every time I’d get back from the UK, there’d be a good reason to return straight away. New groups literally materialized overnight. It was a dream come true for an A&R rep with a frequent flyer miles addiction.

I timed this visit to take in the latest media invented genre, shoegazing, with My Bloody Valentine being crowned the apparent rulers. I do wish I could recall who else was on the bill that night. I want to say Silverfish and Spiritualized. Regardless, the whole thing was dead boring. Not a flipping song in sight the entire evening. Then and there, I never saw the point of this appropriately described genre. Dreadful stuff.

But fast forward a full year and a half. ‘Soon’ is the band’s new single, one of those records you hadn’t heard of when you left New York, but was everywhere upon arrival in pre-internet July ’90. Gary Crowley played me it that first afternoon. It was even on the car radio when we left his apartment. Just about every office at Island seemed to be blasting it the next day, each attempting to out hip the other. ‘Soon’ was most definitely my soundtrack to that visit.

The following winter, the band played the new Ritz in New York. By then, the club had moved uptown to 54th Street. Although most of the magic the original place had was now gone, there were still plenty of great shows. Both Jane’s Addiction and The Red Hot Chili Peppers peaked their club band periods on that stage, Primal Scream did SCREAMADELICA, the return of the original Damned and Buzzcocks happened there, The Charlatans made their US premier, Ministry playing behind a chain linked fence, daring audience members dove into the mosh pit below from the second floor balcony during The Ramones’ two nights in February ’90 and a jungle red latex clad Lux Interior drank wine from a stray hightop sneaker shot onto the stage during The Cramps LOOK MOM NO HEAD show.

So the opportunity was set for My Bloody Valentine to prove their worth, become royalty, leave a most historical stamp on the moment, the way ‘Soon’ had and has. With intense crowd angst, the band came on to a visual storm of dry ice, saturated red and purple pulsing strobes and seriously tore into ‘Soon’. For a minute or so, the shrill and volume felt painfully positive, but the intensity of high end squeals and attempted white noise was unbearable. Ears were covered, the crowd physically gasping, it was relentless, horrible, unlistenable. Confused and tortured, many, and I do mean many, hit the exits. We tried, we wanted it to be as powerful as ‘Soon’ but we were defeated too, avoiding the surge for refunds at the box office window on the way out. This wasn’t art, it was insult.

Great single though.

The Charlatans

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Listen: Love Is The Key / The Charlatans

7″ singles became less desirable as a format for radio through the 90′s, and by the new millennium, few were available as promo only pressings. Well, not so much in the UK luckily. Possibly driven by guilt, the vinyl conscience music industry still pressed limited copies for radio and jukebox, often with zero packaging. Seemingly an insult at the time, and very disposable, fast forward ten years and I’m well happy to have saved every last one.

Such is the case with The Charlatans’ ‘Love Is The Key’. Being an early possessed band follower, my attraction to their 45′s waned as time progressed, but given those first few gems, I always would give a listen to each new release, and usually winced with disappointment. The more than basic, information only sleeve above, which looks rather nice a decade later, didn’t help.

Unexpectedly, a revelation greeted me: ‘Love Is Te Key’ wiped clean the band’s by then dodgy slate of single releases, each one more dull than it’s predecessor. This record sounded hot on first listen. A return to form, as others have said way too many times. Despite the buried vocals, and Tim Burgess’s much publicized move to LA, this still sounded very British, especially it’s amusing faux funk, which only The Stone Roses had managed to master previously.