IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (49)

My introduction to Franz Ferdinand came via the video for the debut single airing on MTV2, probably on the Zane Lowe show.

The tune itself would have been enough to make me sit up and pay attention, but the fact that the video had been shot in my home city just made it that bit more exciting. I made a point of seeking out the single the following day and learned from the bloke behind the counter that, yes they were from Glasgow and that they had been part of the scene in the city for a few years with a few other bands which were rhymed off, none of which meant anything to me.

I took the CD single home and found myself a little bit anxious before playing it for the first time. The video was fresh in my head as was a chant-a-long chorus which I was sure was in German or perhaps Polish or Czech. What if it didn’t live up to expectations and that further listens would reveal it to be a bit of a dud?

Thankfully, it proved to be the opposite, with it sounding better, fresher and increasingly energetic with each repeated listen. It was that mix of angular spiky guitars that got me – as if the best of Glasgow and NYC had come together in three fabulous minutes

mp3: Franz Ferdinand – Darts Of Pleasure

It was the release of the sophomore single, Take Me Out, that turned Franz Ferdinand into indie and festival superstars in early 2004. Luckily, I had managed to catch a couple of shows in smaller venues but gently kicking myself that I had missed out on the gigs they had played in all sorts of unauthorised locations across the city in the preceding months as they built a reputation among the young folk who just knew about these sort of things. Looking back, it was an early example of the social media/internet going a long way to breaking a band and it was a medium I had no involvement with at all.

The other thing that I liked about the debut single was that the two b-sides (as such on a CD) were just as enjoyable but were nothing like the single. There was a sort of 70s art-rock about one of them, which also sounded as if it had a different singer (which turned out to be the case) while the other made me think of The Fall, but with a singer who didn’t drawl in a Mancunian accent but instead rapped about being the new Scottish gentry:-

mp3: Franz Ferdinand – Van Tango
mp3: Franz Ferdinand – Shopping For Blood

I actually don’t think Franz Ferdinand really bettered the debut single, certainly not in terms of me getting quite as excited (actually, that’s not quite true – I think Michael is an outstanding single, one which was bold and daring as it challenged the machismo of many a Glasgow male to sing-a-long – oh, and their cover of Sound and Vision where they roped in Girls Aloud to do the backing vocals!!);  but it is fair to say that they struck a chord with a wider audience, partly from the consistent excellence of the songs on the first couple of albums, but also from the fact they were a really good live act, capable of putting on a show in the smallest of venues as well as the large arenas and outdoor stages to which they would soon become very familiar.

JC

6 thoughts on “IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (49)

  1. As you say a cracking debut single from a cracking debut album. Shame they couldn’t maintain the quality – for me, each album gets progressively worse (bar the occasional single)

  2. I’ve got the opposite view , actually think think their recent stuff as a whole holds its own with the early stuff and in some cases betters it . Great band

  3. I have a fondness for Franz Ferdinand although I do find myself heading to the earlier stuff more frequently than the later ones. I did enjoy their album with Sparks under the FFS moniker – but then I’ve always liked the quirky output of the brothers Mael.

  4. I have a soft spot for this single (all 3 tracks) and also for Michael. The band generously allowed the use of 2 tracks Michael and Take Me Out on a Scottish educational resource re: challenging homophobia. The resource sadly never saw the light of day.

  5. So you think you were late to the game? I recalled hearing that FF were a Post-Punk for the new era but I’d heard that before. Elastica, anyone? And having lived through the original wave, I was dubious. So i maintained my firewall for FF. Letting my guard down only after Sparks gave them their imprimatur. I thought that if Sparks would do a whole album with this lot, they must have something on the ball. And besides, they were Scots! So I finally bought the debut album, liked it, and vacuumed up everything else. Tasty stuff, and while the arc of triumph sagged over time, even the middle albums prior to FFS are listenable without teeth grinding. I actually saw them in my local hamlet in a 1000 capacity club debuting material that would manifest on the next-in-line “Always Ascending” album. Which I felt was their best album yet! I felt they were really edging in on Roxy Music territory with that one. But “Stranded,” not “Flesh + Blood.”

  6. Love this single. Caught the band on their first trip to the States and they didn’t disappoint. I also prefer the earlier LPs but, then again, my favorite FF song is the title track from ‘Right Words Right Action’, 10 years after their debut. Two guitars, bass, drums is all you need, bebe.

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