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Tellin' Stories (Expanded Edition)

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Album Review

The final single released from Tellin' Stories shows once again that the band has evolved light years beyond most of their musical peers from the early '90s. Alongside the title song are two new songs, "Keep It to Yourself" and "Clean Up Kid," and a live version of "Thank You," a song from the band's previous self-titled album. "Tellin' Stories" is classic Charlatans UK, and it sees the band at a high, mature point in their career. The only fault of the song is that like "North Country Boy" it might be too catchy, but that's little reason to knock it. "Keep It to Yourself" blends a folk guitar with a slow-rolling beat and great wordplay from Tim Burgess. The song shows the subtle route the band have chosen to travel, as it takes on a lilting Lennon/McCartney feel. Too short at two minutes, the song probably should have been expanded by at least another minute. "Clean Up Kid" is a bit less focused, but at least the band seems to be making music that meets their own interests, hence the title of their next album, Us and Us Only. With its live-in-the-studio bluesy jam-session tones, ragged vocals, and nostalgic keyboards, it's a song that would fit into any of a number of eras. "Thank You," recorded live at the Phoenix Festival in July 1997, is most notable for its extended instrumental segment finale. Though the recording quality isn't the best, the performance proves how accomplished the Charlatans UK have become. Tellin' Stories is a quality companion to the album with which it shares a title.


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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