Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Only One I Know

Band: The Charlatans
Album: Some Friendly
Year: 1990
Label: Situation Two
Status: Still going
“Everyone has been burned before, everybody knows the pain”: these key lyrics sung by Salfordian Tim Burgess immediately recall this 1990 hit. They weren’t written by Tim though: they were taken from “Everybody’s Been Burned” by The Byrds, 1967. Entirely appropriate for a Manchester group influenced by 1960s West Coast US psychedelic bands (just listen to the funky keyboard!)

And this was pure loose-beat, guitar-driven Manc, as is clear when you watch the video. The baggy-clothed and bowl-headed band play in a warehouse, jiggly dancing with dodgy kids and police in the background. Classic Madchester: you could almost expect their contemporaries 808 State (also formed in 1988) to appear with Moss Side rapper MC Tunes, since their collaboration was the other 1990 hit, The Only Rhyme That Bites, filmed in a similar setting (see page 231).

This was The Charlatans’ second single, and their first top ten hit, but is far from being the only one we know. It came from their debut album (though wasn’t included on the original vinyl versions). So it pretty much signals the start of The Charlatans. The album went straight to #1 in the UK.


It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. The song was recorded in Wrexham, Wales, and was problematic: there were arguments with the studio and equipment got smashed. The Welsh and Mancunians have long had a strained relationship. More trouble when Rob Collins, who gave the band part of its signature sound with his Hammond organ, was charged with armed robbery in 1992 (eventually doing a short stint in prison – it turned out he hadn’t robbed an off-licence, but had driven the robber away). Rob was killed in a car crash in 1996 while the band worked on their fifth album, Telling Stories. And the band, like many of the time, were associated with recreational drug use – the classic “How High” was one of the band’s biggest funky hits.

None of this stopped the rise of The Charlatans. They supported Oasis in 1996 at the Knebworth gigs, and have a long history of successes. They're still going strong: which proves they were the real thing, not namesake fakers.




Extract from page 216 of 2000 Tunes: A History of Manchester Music by M. H. Rees; used with permission. Read the whole series (25 extracts) here; or my summary post. Readers might be interested in my forthcoming novel about a man obsessed with Manchester music - confusingly, it is also called 2000 Tunes!
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