By most people’s reckoning, 1991 was a strong year for albums (apart from those a little older who cite 1972. Whatever). Screamadelica, Out of Time, Loveless, Blue Lines, Achtung Baby. Oh and err… Nevermind of course. So, it might surprise you to know that Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque (from where What You Do To Me came) finished above all but Nirvana’s grunge-juggernaut in NME’s end of year top albums poll, beating even that Spin magazine’s own list.
Not bad for a band who were once described (to me at least) as sounding like listening to your Dad mowing the lawn.
What You Do To Me, released a few months after the album, is perhaps not the strongest track (my vote goes to Star Sign) but it still has a charm of its own. Lasting a little over 2 minutes it can’t be accused of outstaying its welcome and the foot-stomping pace went down well at the indie-disco. While I hadn’t forgotten this track at all (Bandwagonesque regularly pops up on my hi-fi) digging this one out of the loft having read a fine post on 1001albumsin10years allowed me the chance to explore the b-sides, which I never remembered playing at the time.
So what have we got? First up is a pretty faithful but more uptempo cover of T.Rex’s Life’s A Gas. Filler’s buzzy, stop-start sounds a bit like My Bloody Valentine in one of their more coherent moments and very much an early 1990’s Creation err… creation. Neither would have sounded out of place on Bandwagonesque, which is a bit of a disappointment as you’d hope for something a bit different from b-sides. Not this time though.
While the band have lost and gained members, split off into side projects and lost the backing of a major label, Teenage Fanclub are still going strong but it’s fair to say their audience is more select. Many look back on Bandwagonesque with rose tinted spectacles and forget later albums like the fabulous Grand Prix, Songs From Northern Britain and Howdy. This is sad as I think “The Fannies” really are a band where you can confidently say “I prefer their later stuff”.
Here they are playing WYTDM live on (UK) Channel 4’s The Word, required post-pub telly for the under 30’s back in the early 1990’s.
Thanks for the shout-out, glad I helped inspire a 12″ revisit!
So very true how the go-to answer for many fans of many bands is, “their older stuff is better.” Nice to hear that’s not the case with these guys.
Also very true: 91’s overall excellence, it really had a bit of something for everyone too. Like Metal? Metallica’s self-titled. Funky? Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Pop/R&B? MJ’s Dangerous. Hip Hop? A tribe called quest. I might still give ’95 the nod as best of the decade but no shortage of quality in the palindromic 1991, especially in the list you provided in the opening paragraph.
So very untrue: Teenage Fanclub is “like listening to your Dad mowing the lawn” – not even close!
I never did understand the lawn mowing analogy but I liked it so thought it was worth including! If you’ve not given TF’s Grand Prix a listen then I would highly recommend it.
Greatt subject, great post. Everything the Fannies did up to Songs From GB still gets played with regularity. Speaking of TFC covers, have you heard their version of Like A Virgin? Brilliant, in my opinion.
Ah, now that cover does ring a tiny bell. I did a bit of research and it’s on The King album, which was never particularly well received as I recall and not one I own. Still, I’m sure Spotify will help me out…! Thanks for the comments.