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Songs from Northern Britain

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (29 Dec. 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music
  • ASIN: B000024T7O
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,447 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Though there is no good reason why every man, woman and child alive shouldn't own Teenage Fanclub's entire catalogue, Songs from Northern Britain is the closest they came to distilling their essence on one album. On Songs from Northern Britain, the disparate charms of its three predecessors are synthesized into a record that is as close to perfect as makes no odds: the glittering Big Star-like melodies of Bandwagonesque, the languid Byrdsian melancholy of Thirteen, the crystalline Mitch Easter styled pop production of Grand Prix. If Songs from Northern Britain is the ideal thumbnail sketch of Teenage Fanclub, then the first single, "Ain't That Enough" was an impeccable summary of the entire album: an irresistible melody, set to ringing Rickenbackers, carrying a chorus that encapsulated Teenage Fanclub's signature bleary optimism: "Here is a sunrise, ain't that enough?"

Songs from Northern Britain is also noteworthy for a growing lyrical confidence and maturity. Teenage Fanclub's three songwriters have always been eerily attuned to each other's sensibilities and whether by coincidence or design Songs… finds Messrs Blake, Love and McGinley determined to see if there is a way of tempering the adolescent furies of rock & roll with the rueful wisdom of thirtysomethings who've been round the block once or twice. The answer, as demonstrated by "Start Again", "I Don't Want Control of You" and especially "Ain't That Enough", is a resounding yes. --Andrew Mueller

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Format: Audio CD
I didn't discover this remarkable little band until 1997 and the release of Songs from Northern Britain, when I chanced upon them tucked away in a remote listening post in the corner of WHSmith Aylesbury. So taken aback was I by their heady combination of swooning guitars and soaring harmonies, that I snapped it up on the spot, and rarely have I been more satisfied with an impulse buy. It's a true thing of beauty, meandering as it does between the edgy, folkier McGinley-penned numbers to the gorgeous, melodic anthems of Blake and Love. Ain't That Enough is an impossibly great composition that never fails to leave the listener grinning ear to ear, and Planets reveals the trio's softer side, pitching jangly 12-string guitars with majestic string arrangements. More than just a collection of good songs, however, the album feels like a cohesive entity, a natural progression of aural massage that will bannish those winter blues away - from the opening bars to the final, lingering note.
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Format: Audio CD
If ever an album summed up the feeling of opening a window onto a crisp, sunny autumn morning, it is this one. BUY this album. These four guys are as comfortable and saturday-afternoon reasurring as old denim and if 'Planets' doesn't bring a lump to your throat when the strings kick in, then you're dead. 'I don't want control of you' is perhaps one of Norman's best post-adolescent love songs and you haven't lived until you have been driving along on a bright morning and heard Gerry love bellow 'SUNSHINE!' at you from the warmth of the stereo on track seven, 'Take the long way around'. Pure firework's night cosiness in a slim perspex case, buy Songs From Northern Britain and fall in love all over again.
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Format: Audio CD
Teenage Fanclub are another one of those bands who have never quite made the big time despite their obvious merits, being overshadowed by less-talented but ultimately more publicity hungry contemporaries. Critics label them as predictable, derivative, uninteresting - ironic coming from those who labelled bands like Oasis and Suede as the saviours of British music. And yet, these purveyors of near-perfect pop just don't seem to care - all that matters to them is their continuing output of glorious music, produced with the kind of consistency few rivals can match.
'Songs from Northern Britain' might well be regarded as a summary of everything that Teenage Fanclub stand for: eternally optimistic lyrics, uplifting melodies, soaring vocal harmonies all blended together into twelve irresistable tracks. From the moment the band's first jangling guitar chords in top 20 single 'Ain't That Enough' hit you until the final notes of 'Speed of Light' fade away, you are carried away to another place where nothing else really seems to matter, only that the music keeps on playing. It's only when you find yourself humming the tunes days later that you realise just how special these songs really are.
It's difficult, if not impossible, to pick out highlights, but Norman Blake's 'I Don't Want Control of You' with its sublime vocal harmonies overlying wave after wave of crystalline guitars is possibly the perfect pop song the Byrds never wrote, whilst 'Your Love is The Place...' (McGinley) is one of the simplest and yet most touching acoustic ballads ever composed.
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Format: Audio CD
this seems to be the most villified of tfc's albums with allegations of blandness thrown readily. i must admit, if teenage fanclub aren't your bag then don't buy this. i think what people object to is the fact that this album is the most technically accomplished of all their output, an ambition hinted at by the excellent grand prix. this is undoubtedly the most accessible of the albums, a sort of big star meets the beach boys with really very professional production values. sure, it doesn't break much new ground, but "i don't want control of you" is as spine tingling as "star sign", and "speed of light" rounds off the album with the same satisfied feeling that "is this music?" achieves, but this is far from the raw genius of 'bandwagonesque' as you can get. to sum it up, this is the sound of a band growing old gracefully, and simply bringing their fantastically melodic and historically resonant pop up to date. they wear their influences on their sleeve, but when you're distilling the beach boys, big star et al, and you're doing it this well, who's complaining ?
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Format: Audio CD
My best buddy bought me this album in '98? To be honest I don't think I even played it and left it in the CD rack for a year or so. I was just coming down from the crushing disappointment of Oasis and Brit Pop in general. When I say Oasis I mean everything they did post 'What's the Story'.
So I stick it on and have a listen. 'Not bad'. Then I guess I listened again, and again, and again. Wow it got stuck in there. I'm not one to idly bandy platitudes around the place, but the first 4 songs on this are pretty much perfect. If I was pressed for a personal favourite it would have to be the complete song, 'I don't want control of you'.
I listen to this album a lot, and without sounding to pompous it holds it's own amongst some very esteemed company.

The cover and artwork are at odds with themselves and the music contained within, or maybe they are not? The cheap thrills promise of a travelling funfair in juxtaposition with the stripped down beauty of the wilds of Scotland (I have assumed). If I'm honest the cover put me off for a while, don't let it do the same to you. This is magnificent.

Some years later I saw them play locally (around 2002) one of the best gigs I've been to, and I've been to a few. I've listened to everything they've done in the intervening years, but this was always the album for me. For some reason I always couple this with Paul Weller's Wild Wood. Not particularly similar, but I think they go together like chips and ketchup.
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