BURNING BADGER’S VINYL (Part 2) : TEENAGE FANCLUB

SWC has given me the green light to offer up some thoughts on two pieces of vinyl that the late and great Tim Badger had kept in two boxes, despite having been thought to have sold off his entire collection a few years earlier. These form the music that he couldn’t bear to part with.

1. The Concept – Teenage Fanclub (12″ single – Creation Records, Cre 111T, 1991)

Tim’s box contains the 12″ version, while a copy of the 7″ sits in a cupboard here in Villain Towers. The 12″ has four songs, two of which can be found on the 7″. There are 75 copies of the 12″ currently on offer via Discogs but just 9 copies of the 7″, so maybe the smaller vinyl is a bit harder to get a hold of. I know I picked mine up many years later as a second-hand purchase as 1991 was a time when money was a wee bit tight from the fact I was doing a daily commute from Glasgow to Edinburgh, the expense of which meant music purchases had to be scaled back, and I kept my money back to buy a copy of Bandwagonesque, on CD, which I know cost £13.49 from Tower Records as it still has the price sticker on it.

I’m thinking that when he bought the single, Tim could well have looked a bit like any of the band members in the picture above, what with their long hair and carefree attitude mirroring that of the majority of their young(ish) audience.  I was, as the commute mention above might indicate, already, in my late 20s, at an advanced stage of being part of the suit and tie brigade.

I bought Bandwagonesque on the back of the great press Teenage Fanclub were getting, buoyed by the fact that Tower Records were offering the purchaser the opportunity to return the CD and receive a full refund if having listened to it, you weren’t that happy. All of which means The Concept, as the album’s opening song, would be my introduction to the band. I was hooked within the opening 20 seconds, with a tune that sounded like something a very stoned Neil Young would have churned out at his peak with Crazy Horse. It was a long way from what I was anticipating but in a very good way. I laughed out loud at the ironic use of Status Quo in the opening line and the fact the tune could have passed for one of their 45s being played at LP speed on the turntable. I was charmed….

Having said that, I never really totally fell in love with TFC. There were parts of Bandwagonesque that I felt were a bit too shambolic and amateurish, but there was more than enough to make me want to keep the CD. The back catalogue was also a bit too raw in places for my liking, although there was no doubting the quality of Everything Flows and God Knows It’s True, two singles from 1990 issued by Paperhouse Records, which had been the debut single more than a year previously (and whose release had completely passed me by!). In due course, seeing the band in the live setting a few years later increasingly won me over, and over the years I’ve been lucky enough to catch them in some very small and intimate venues across Glasgow and Edinburgh.

I’m thinking that the 12″ version contains the full 6-minute version of the song, but to be on the safe side, I’ll also offer up the 7″ version in its edited form:-

mp3: Teenage Fanclub – The Concept
mp3: Teenage Fanclub – The Concept (7″ single)

And here’s the three b-sides which make up the 12″,

mp3: Teenage Fanclub – What You Do To Me (demo)
mp3: Teenage Fanclub – Long Hair
mp3: Teenage Fanclub – Robot Love

The first of these is another Norman Blake composition, the middle is by Gerry Love and the latter is a rare all-band effort. It’s an example of why I struggled to really take to the band to begin with, being a tad on the noisy and tuneless side, like a bad Nirvana outtake.

There were a few other tracks recorded during the sessions for Bandwagonesque which found their way out via other methods, including this piece of vinyl that Tim couldn’t part with.

2. Free Again/Bad Seeds (7″ single – K Records, IPU26, 1992)

TFC have never hidden their influences, citing many of them from early days in interviews and churning out cover versions and/or collaborations in due course. The Bandwagonesque sessions also saw them have a stab at a song by Big Star (an early 70s band from Memphis, Tennessee) and another by Beat Happening (an early 80s band from Olympia, Washington). I think it’s fair to say that neither act had really gone beyond cult status in the UK by the time TFC had formed and were recording, but their continued support, and willingness to acknowledge how much of an influence they had been, led to a greater level of interest, particularly for Big Star who would reform again in 1993, who attracted ever-increasing attention and fan numbers, touring extensively until the death of frontman Alex Chilton, at the age of 59, from heart failure.

These tracks sneaked their way out with K Records, an independent record label based in Olympia, Washington whose founder, Calvin Johnson, was part of Beat Happening, one of whose songs was on the release.

Both tracks would also later find their way onto Deep Fried Fanclub, a rarities compilation album by TFC that was issued in 1995 when the band was arguably at the height of their commercial period, with the album Grand Prix going Top 10 in the UK. I’ve long been familiar with Free Again as Jacques the Kipper included it on a C90 tape he put together many many years ago, but Bad Seeds is a new one for me. And it’s a belter, sounding as if the boys are channeling their inner Cramps.

mp3: Teenage Fanclub – Free Again
mp3: Teenage Fanclub – Bad Seeds

TFC are still going strong, despite the departure of Gerry Love a while back, with him being replaced as a band member by Euros Childs, best known as the frontman of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. I’m far from alone in not being able to bring myself to go see this new inception of the band as Gerry was such an integral part of their sound, and to the credit of the remaining members, they have made it clear they wouldn’t be comfortable having any of his songs performed by a different singer, be that Norman, Raymond or Euros. It just wouldn’t be the same……

I’m just sorry that I can’t personalise the pieces in the same way and you’ll be pleased to learn that SWC will be up next with Parts 3 and 4 of the series, after which I will be boring you silly again. There’s a lot of quality music still to be pulled out of Badger’s Boxes.

JC

5 thoughts on “BURNING BADGER’S VINYL (Part 2) : TEENAGE FANCLUB

  1. totally agree with you JC on bandwagonesque. I’m similar to you that TFC only won me over later. People seem to get very nostalgic about bandwagonesque whereas both grand prix and songs from northern Britain are much more consistent. It strikes me they are loving what they were doing in their life then and warm to the time rather than the quality of the individual songs. Also can’t see TFC with Mr Love…

  2. At some point it will be possible to get a university degree in rock music. As part of this course of study, students will be assigned essays where they have to identify and discuss the many periods where pop music “returned to guitar-based rock quartets.” Bandwagonesque will be the example for the early 90’s.

  3. £13.49 for a CD back in 1991? Explains why I spent so much time in record stores buying secondhand…! For some reason, I think I really disliked TFC back in the day but I can’t really remember why. Even more strange considering I had the long hair, stripy jumper and carefree attitude. I’ve lost them all now, but I appreciate TFC a bit more so there’s some balance there. Another great post, JC!

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