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Tellin' Stories

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Album Review

The Charlatans made a surprising comeback in 1995, turning in an eponymous album that earned them their best reviews and sales ever. Tellin' Stories, the follow-up to The Charlatans, should have been triumphant, but tragedy struck midway through its recording, when keyboardist Rob Collins was killed in a car accident. Collins was an integral part of the band's lineup, creating a distinctive, swirling, neo-psychedelic sound, and it seemed unlikely that the band could carry on without him, much less record a record as earthy and warm as Tellin' Stories. Primal Scream's Martin Duffy volunteered to help the band complete the album, which was basically written before Collins' death, and that might explain why there are no overt references to his absence anywhere on the album. Instead, Tellin' Stories is another collection of classicist rock & roll spiked with dance beats, much like any other Charlatans album. Where its predecessor was more informed by mechanized beats, the rhythms are more organic, which perfectly suits the rolling "North Country Boy," the sweeping "One to Another," and the heart-tugging "How Can You Leave Us?" And, like any other Charlatans album, it doesn't quite hold together, falling apart with instrumentals and ill-conceived songs toward the end. On the whole, however, Tellin' Stories is more consistent than their earlier records, and the best songs showcase the band at its strongest, which is quite an achievement considering the traumas the Charlatans underwent during its recording. More than anything, that's a fitting salute to Collins.

Biography

Formed: 1989 in Manchester, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

For many years, the Charlatans UK were perceived as the also-rans of Madchester, the group that didn't capture the Zeitgeist like the Stone Roses or the band that failed to match the mad genre-bending of the Happy Mondays. Of course, they were more traditional than either of their peers. Working from a Stonesy foundation, the Charlatans added dance-oriented rhythms and layers of swirling organs straight out of '60s psychedelia. At first, the Charlatans had great promise, and their initial singles...
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