Old music: Teenage Fanclub – Everything Flows

The boys from Lanarkshire get close to the divine light on their first single from 1990

When Teenage Fanclub get it right – not something you can rely on – they can climb to within an A flat major 7th of the sublime. And they are all the more enigmatic precisely because they have been so inconsistent. Even though Everything Flows, their first single, forms part of what you might call their harder early sound, it is certainly one of those moments when the boys from Lanarkshire got close to the divine light.

When the 7in (special edition with a circular sleeve) first turned up at the Essex record shop in which I was employed as slave labour in 1990, my friends and I had been devouring British indie pop and American noise, in particular the Pixies. The raga drone of Everything Flows, offset with the melodic lead guitar of Raymond McGinley, hinted at an exciting new hybrid and Norman Blake's mumbling and artless lyrics seemed a good fit for a gang of 17-year-old
shoegazers from London's hinterland. This connection was strengthened further because at the time I had exactly the same haircut and glasses as dear old Norman. None of us would have expected that after a few questionable turns in the following few years Teenage Fanclub would become the respectable – cuddly, even – dads' favourites of the past decade.

The band did achieve a kind of understated greatness again: for moments with the punchy, sunny sound of Bandwagonesque and in the power-folk of Grand Prix, but most notably with the elegiac but uplifting Songs from Northern Britain. But that rough magic is all here in Everything Flows. It promised so much and, occasionally, they delivered on that promise.

Contributor

George Chesterton

The GuardianTramp

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