Steve Harnell reviews Sony’s Teenage Fanclub reissue series.
It is, of course, absolutely compulsory when reviewing the Fannies’ back catalogue to namedrop the influence of The Byrds, and most notably, Big Star. We won’t break from that convention here, but it’s also worth noting just how consistent the Bellshill indie rockers have been over the past quarter of a century; they’ve barely put a foot wrong since their quiet emergence in the early 90s. This five-album series of reissues of their finest work on vinyl – they’ve long been out of print – is a timely reminder of a sterling back catalogue. Picks of the bunch are Bandwagonesque from 1991 and 1995’s Grand Prix. The former – released at the height of grunge – may have featured the odd nod to feistiness on gnarly feedback-drenched tracks such as Satan, but this was the work of a band in thrall to melodic songwriting. They then refined the process for Grand Prix, with its clutch of instant classics including About You, Sparky’s Dream and the punsome Mellow Doubt. The experimental Thirteen (1993) has improved with age, while Songs From Northern Britain, released in 1997, showcases an understated band that’s thoroughly at ease with itself. Their major-label excursion Howdy! from 2000 plays to their strengths, and is also worthy of re-examination.