Saturday, 16 May 2015

50 albums to take to my grave #21: Songs From Northern Britain

It's too easy to use the 'Teenage Fanclub = Big Star copyists' cliche, but to be honest, it's difficult to argue with it. Not that it's anything to be ashamed of. Everyone should own at least one Big Star record just as everyone should own at least one Teenage Fanclub record. As far as I'm concerned, their fifth, 'Songs From Northern Britain', should be the one. It's a record that's almost faultless from the opening strains of Start Again through to the final chord of Speed Of Light.

I instantly fell in love with its lead single Ain't That Enough when it first came out, and still adore it. It was going to be one of my '20 songs...' but I decided to do the whole album instead. I can't really tell you what's so special about this particular track, it's not unlike the rest of the album. Great tune, great vocals, great feeling. For some reason it just hits a certain spot like so few other songs do. That's not to suggest the other 11 tracks on the record don't connect though. Take The Long Way Round is my second fave - a wonderful melody, some fine harmonies and a little break in the middle that sounds like the Beach Boys. Winter is divine in much the same way. Even I Don't Want Control Of You, one of my lesser favourites, just forces me to sing along with its infectious and encapsulating tune.

The one weak spot - and it's not even that weak - is I Don't Care. I never skip it though, it fits pretty well and lends a slightly different mood to the overall feel of it all. I almost feel guilty calling it a weak spot. It's followed by a frankly brilliant triple whammy - Everest, Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From and Speed Of Light, the latter being another particularly high point. Maybe this is why I Don't Care doesn't quite live up to everything else on the album - everything else is just so strong.

With summer fast approaching, I can't think of many better summer albums to lie in the garden with while soaking up the rays. It's difficult to believe 'Songs From Northern Britain' is not just a title, but a description; it's definitely more California than Caledonia. It's Teenage Fanclub's high point for me. They were building up to this record during the early 90s; after it, things were never quite the same.


  1. A heatedly debated topic that used to crop up every now and then across the counter of the shop was 'what is the perfect Teenage Fanclub LP?' As I recall, I was alone in plumping for 'Songs For Northern Britain', but, all these years later, I stand by that assessment 100%. It's an absolutely majestic piece of work. One tune you didn't mention, 'Start Again', still destroys me every time I hear it.

  2. You've talked me into giving it a quick listen and it is indeed excellent

  3. My favourite fannies album too.

  4. What a fantastic record. As you say, the perfect album for lying back in the garden soaking up the rays. Bring on the summer...

  5. As everyone is saying, a truly great album. Yes, they might not be the most original of bands but when you consider their albums, who cares? great tunes, great band.