Still got your record player? Dig it out. The crunchier the music, the better it sounds on vinyl: a broader noise, bigger than you get from a CD and many times fuller than what you’d hear from an execrable mp3 player. Technology does not always improve stuff. Five Teenage Fanclub albums have been re-released on vinyl, each one with its retinue of freebie extras, unreleased singles and so on, at about £18 a pop. I’ve chosen the three best.
The raw Bandwagonesque set the power-pop template: The Byrds, Alex Chilton and Crazy Horse compressed into very agreeable three minutes slabs. It gave them an unrepeated US hit in ‘Star Sign’ and a concert staple in ‘The Concept’. Better still is Thirteen, which was unceremoniously panned by the critics on its release. The sound is muddier, darker, from the T.Rex-ish thundering which kicks off the album to the lengthy Neil Young-ish workout ‘Gene Clark’, but they have never written a better bunch of tunes. Grand Prix, released at the height of Brit Pop, meanwhile, was adored by the press — and it is indeed good, if a little too brightly polished for my liking. But name me another band who would base a three-minute pop song around the refrain ‘I hate verisimilitude’? Trouble is, boys, rock music is all about verisimilitude and affectation — something the Fannies never really bought into. They even eschewed sleeping with groupies because they thought it ‘disrespectful’ to women. Bless them.
Anyway, three albums, all of which would easily make my top 30 list for the 1990s, now available in the most appropriate format.