Thursday, November 16, 2006

Forever: The Singles - The Charlatans

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The Christmas silly season continues, but despite the Charlatans only releasing their last studio album in April of this year (the disappointing Simpatico), and having released Melting Pot back in 1998 (and bonus points if you know who bought me that CD ;-D), and the obvious smell of contractual obligation hanging about as a result, I happen to think that the world needs a Charlatans singles compilation if only in the hope that people might realise just how under-rated the group continue to be (although sadly, an entry position of number 38 last week seems to suggest my hope is in vain).

Of course it's nigh on impossible to condense a near 17 year career into the 80 minutes that can fit onto one CD, but whilst this may not give the whole story it offers up proof that when they were good, The Charlatans were very special indeed.

Another chronologically ordered singles compilation, this takes us from their debut single Indian Rope (surprisingly they don't start with The Only One I Know) to 2006 single Blackened Blue Eyes. If neither track is essential, a lot of what lies in between is.

The Only One I Know is the baggy Manchester sound at it's best whilst Weirdo brings a kind of gothic northern sould to the party. The soul of this particular party though has to be the cuts from the Charlatan's best album Telling Stories. Four songs are taken from it (One To Another, North Country Boy, How High and Tellin' Stories) and even they only hint at the majesty of the album as a whole.

Even though it didn't seem to appeal to fans of that album, I always found Wonderland a great album too. It only produced two top 40 singles and both make it onto this collection, the sublime Love Is The Key and A Man Needs To Be Told.

Sadly from there, the collection does noticeably dip in quality. The last two studio albums (2004's Up At The Lake and the afformentioned Simpicato) were disappointing and even cherry-picking the "best" from those two doesn't leave much excitement. The new track is also a lesson in pointlessness. You're So Pretty We're So Pretty was a good song to start with, and was scheduled to be a single once upon a time, but the disco tinged remix does nothing for the song, or for the the collection as a whole.

Whilst this is undoubtedly a compilation that tails off to the end, it serves as a great reminder of how good the Charlatans were at their peak. Who knows, it may even serve as a reminder to the group themselves after the last two disappointments.

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