Teenage Fanclub Scares the Living Shit Out Of Me

Yeah, that title is a My Chemical Romance reference. Deal with it.

Some quick updates for Mostly-Retro, that other site I have.

Did a quick review for the Record Store Day edition of The Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka. Spoiler: it’s dumb (the release, not my review…I think).

Also put up a ton of pictures from The Joy Formidable concert that I went to last night. That shit was dope.

Frank Black & Teenage Fanclub – The Peel Sessions
The Man Who Was Too Loud
The Jacques Tati
Sister Isabel
Frank Black and Teenage Fanclub, now there’s a paring that screams “mid-90s'” if there ever was one.

I don’t really mean that as a slight, but it’s funny to think about just how quickly artists can vanish from the public eye, especially in America. If you’re under the age of 20 (or even 30) then you probably have no idea as to who the hell Teenage Fanclub are, but they were nearly hot shit here in the states for…about 25 minutes.  In 1992 Spin famously chose their album Bandwagonesque over Nirvana’s Nevermind for Album Of The Year, and that made quite the hubbub  Hell, that sentence alone should tell you something about the era I’m talking about; this happened at a time when Spin’s album of the year choice was important to people outside of the Spin offices (sigh, I miss Spin magazine).

This EP came out in 1994, and at that time it was probably safe to say that Teenage Fanclub were a bigger deal than Frank Black in the States, and certainly so in the UK. As a solo act, Frank Black’s popularity has rarely gone above “strong cult act.” I mean, compare him to fellow Pixies member Kim Deal and her  band The Breeders. Sure, they may have only had one hit with “Cannonball,” off of their album Last Splash, but I bet that album has sold more copies than every one of Frank Black’s solo albums combined. As a solo artist, Frank Black just doesn’t really “matter” that much. It’s true now and it was even more true then.

The same can pretty much be said for every Teenage Fanclub release since Bandwagonesque (at least in America). They’re completely forgotten here save for the occasional play of “The Concept” during an alt-rock station’s “flashback” hour. They were going to be “the next big thing” for a while. Now they’re not even a thing.

My point? I don’t know if I have one. I just found this release as an exceptional example of how quickly tastes, legacies and popularity can change. Pop is fickle yo, if you make it, enjoy it while you can.

As far as the music on this EP goes, it’s pretty good, if entirely random and oddball. “Handyman” is a cover. It was originally performed by 1960s R&B/pop singer Jimmy Jones, and was written by Otis Blackwell, a songwriter from the era who wrote “Great Balls of Fire,” “Love Me Tender” and a billion other classic oldies. Frank Black first performed the track on a tribute album for Blackwell.

“The Man Who Was Too Loud” is the only track on this EP that has appeared on another Frank Black release. It showed up, four years later, on the self-titled Frank Black And The Catholics debut LP.

I have no idea what “The Jacques Tati” is. It doesn’t appear on any Frank Black or Teenage Fanclub release from what I can tell. It sounds a lot like Frank Black cuts from the era though, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s a song Frank wrote around that time and never got around the properly recording or releasing. I was a film student at one point in my life, so I especially like the line “now we must all try to understand the films of Jacques Tati.” That’s accurate, trust me.

Finally, there’s “Sister Isobel,” a misspelled cover of a Del Shannon tune (“Sister Isabelle”). Nice to hear a Shannon tune that isn’t “Runaway.”

I hate “Runaway.”


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