It has been over twenty-two years since The Charlatans (or The Charlatans UK as they are known in the U.S.) released their debut album, Some Friendly. While they received heavy rotation for a few years on MTV’s 120 Minutes and, to a lesser extent, alternative radio stations, the band’s USA impact was short and sweet-much like the songs on the aforementioned release. However, unlike their “Madchester” scene counterparts and media darlings The Stone Roses, The Charlatans have never stopped recording, having released ten albums, five compilations and three live projects since their initial output. The commercial success that has eluded them in the States has been plentiful in the UK, with all eleven albums placing in the Top 40 of the UK Albums Chart.
Relying heavily on acid house dance grooves and catchy organ hooks, Some Friendly starts out with the song, “You’re Not Very Well.” From the onset, lead vocalist Tim Burgess’ carefree vocal delivery manages to command one’s undivided attention as well as evoke an emotional response-all without overshadowing the dreamy Britpop his voice is accompanying. This same blueprint is used on much of the album, detouring momentarily on slower songs such as the experimental “109 Pt.2” and the bass-driven “Flower.” Perhaps their best known song, “The Only One I Know,” borrows the instantly recognizable keyboard and bass riffs from Deep Purple’s “Hush,” but they quickly make it their own without disrespecting the original song.
Though The Charlatans have stated they tackled internal band issues and expressed discontent over the role their inexperience played during the recording sessions, none of these hangups are evident Some two decades later. The cohesive, fetching tracks contained on Some Friendly still measure up favorably (or is that favourably?) to anything their much-heralded contemporaries released during that period or since “Then.”
Some Friendly tidbits:
-Originally released on October 8, 1990, a deluxe edition was released in 2010. This remastered version contains the original album, along with a disc of outtakes, radio sessions and B-sides.
– Lead singer Tim Burgess claims that the album suffered due to hastily being thrown together to “go on there just to make up the numbers.”
-The band also said some songs were overproduced, resulting in tracks such as “White Shirt” and “Polar Bear” having bass lines that were “lost” in the mix.
Original track listing:
1. “You’re Not Very Well”
2. “White Shirt”
3. “The Only One I Know”
6. “109 Pt. 2”
7. “Polar Bear”
8. “Believe You Me”
11. “Sproston Green”