Top 10 Songs From The Charlatans

The Charlatans Songs

Feature Photo: Masao Nakagami, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Our top 10 songs from The Charlatans present the music of an English outfit famed for its luscious blend of indie rock with alternative rock and Britpop sounds. However, The Charlatans’ beginnings dictated otherwise with the band being among the influential acts in the then-flourishing Madchester scene. Other reputable outfits that made a significant impact in the Madchester scene include The Stone Roses, 808 State, Happy Mondays, James, and Inspiral Carpets.

The Charlatans (Often dubbed The Charlatans UK) was formed in 1988 by former Makin’ Time bassist Martin Blunt. Martin ganged up drummer Jon Brookes, guitarist Jon Day, keyboardist Rob Collins, and vocalist/guitarist Baz Ketley to form The Charlatans’ initial lineup. However, The Charlatans would soon drop Baz Ketley for Tim Burgess, a vocalist who has proven to be among the band’s irreplaceable pillars of success.

The band went ahead to make official releases in 1990 with its founder Martin Blunt citing The Doors, The Stranglers, and Joy Division as the band’s primary influences. With thirteen mainstream successful albums to their name and a career spanning over three decades, The Charlatans are among the most sought-after classic rock bands in the UK and beyond.

The Charlatans’ Album Releases over the Years

Two years after its formation, The Charlatans issued its debut studio album, Some Friendly through Situation Two Records. Other artists who have issued songs through Situation Two include The Fall, Buffalo Tom, and David J of BauhausSome Friendly was an instant success, topping the UK Albums Chart while peaking at number seventy-three on the Billboard 200. The album also catapulted The Charlatans to mainstream success, earning a gold certification in the UK. “The Only One I Know,” “Then,” and “Sproston Green” are some of the best songs from The Charlatans featured on this album.

Between 10th and 11th, issued in 1992, marked the band’s sophomore studio album. The album is among the band’s Madchester-influenced releases with production handled by Flood and Hugh Jones. Flood has worked with other reputable artists including Depeche Mode, The Smashing Pumpkins, U2, and PJ Harvey. Hugh Jones on the other hand has produced albums for notable artists including Simple Minds and Modern English.

Unfortunately, Between 10th and 11th was a commercial flop juxtaposed with the band’s debut album. The album settled for a peak position of number twenty-one on the UK Albums Chart. Between 10th and 11th also managed to peak at number one hundred and seventy-three on the Billboard 200. “Weirdo,” “Tremelo Song,” and “I Don’t Want to See the Sights” are the top musical gems by The Charlatans from the album.

In 1994, The Charlatans release their third studio album, Up to Our Hips through Beggars Banquet Records. This was the first album by the band issued through Beggars Banquet, once home to The Lurkers, Gary Numan, The Cult, and The Go-Betweens. The album saw the band take on a blend of funk rock and Britpop with notable hits including “Can’t Get Out of the Bed” and “Jesus Hairdo.” Up to Our Hips made it to the eighth spot on the UK Albums Chart, earning silver certification in the UK.

The Charlatans went on to issue their self-titled fourth studio album. This rock and Britpop-inspired record catapulted the band to the top of the Scottish and UK Albums Charts proving to have been a mainstream success. The album was also a commercial success, earning a gold certification in the UK. Popular songs by The Charlatans from the album include “Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over,” “Crashin’ In,” Bullets Come,” and “Just Lookin’.”

The band’s 1997 album Tellin’ Stories is the band’s most successful release of all time, drawing comparison to works by other classic rock artists such as Neil Young and Patti SmithTellin’ Stories topped the Scottish and UK Albums Charts, earning the band a gold certification by the end of the year. Even before the band finished recording this album, its original keyboardist Rob Collins died after a fatal accident. As a result, the band requested Martin Duffy of Primal Scream to help its members finish its recording. “One to Another,” “North Country Boy,” “Tellin’ Stories,” and “How High” are the best songs from The Charlatans featured on this album.

Despite the album’s success, The Charlatans cut ties with Beggars Banquet to seek glory by issuing music through major record labels. After striking a recording contract with Universal Records, The Charlatans issued their sixth studio album, Us and Us Only. The album saw the band take on an amalgam of country rock, folk, and roots rock influences. Us and Us Only was fairly successful, rising to the second spot on both the Scottish and UK Albums Charts. This gold-certified album is home to notable musical gems including “Forever,” “My Beautiful Friend,” and “Impossible.”

Wonderland, issued in 2001, marked the band’s seventh studio album. The album topped the Scottish Albums Chart, rising to the second spot on the UK Albums Chart. Wonderland earned the band gold certification in the UK proving to have been a fairly commercially successful album. “Love is The Key” and “A Man Needs to Be Told” are the best songs by The Charlatans from this album.

In 2004, The Charlatans returned with their eighth studio album, Up at the Lake. The album marked the last release by the band through Universal Records. Up at the Lake managed to rise to the thirteenth spot on the UK Albums Chart, earning a silver certification in the UK. The album title track, “Loving You is Easy,” and “Try Again Today” are some of the most notable hits from the album.

Simpatico, the band’s ninth studio album, is the only release by The Charlatans through Sanctuary Records. The Charlatans sought the alternative rock sound in this record tinging it with reggae rock influences. Simpatico managed to peak at the tenth spot on the UK Albums Chart. “NYC (There’s No Need to Stop)” and “Blackened Blue Eyes” are the best songs from The Charlatans featured on this album.

The Charlatans went on to release two albums, You Cross My Path in 2008 and Who We Touch in 2010, through Cooking Vinyl Records. Both of the albums made it to the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number thirty-nine and twenty-one respectively. You Cross My Path featured top musical gems such as “The Misbegotten,” “Oh! Vanity,” and “Mistakes.” On the other hand, Who We Touch was home to some of the best songs from The Charlatans including “Love is Ending,” “My Foolish Pride,” and “Your Pure Soul.”

In 2015, The Charlatans issued the album Modern Nature through BMG Records. Modern Nature is more pop-oriented in comparison with most of the band’s classic rock albums. However, this didn’t jeopardize the album’s mainstream appeal, having it peak at the seventh spot on the UK Albums Chart. Among the extra personnel featured on this album are drummer Peter Salisbury of The Verve and drummer Stephen Morris of New Order. “Talking in Tones,” “So Oh,” and “Come Home Baby” are the top musical gems by The Charlatans from the album.

Different Days, issued in 2017, marks the band’s thirteenth and most recent studio album. The album saw The Charlatans take on a blend of indie rock and alternative rock. Different Days made it to the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number four. Former member of The Smiths Johnny Marr, Gill Gilbert and Stephen Morris of New Order, and former member of The Jam, Paul Weller are some of the additional personnel contracted to make Different Days a success. The album is home to some of the best songs from The Charlatans including “Plastic Machinery,” “Different Days,” and “Over Again.”

The Charlatans’ Accolades Legacy

The Charlatans remains one of the most successful English classic rock outfits of all time with all of its albums making it to the top forty of the UK Albums Chart. Three of the band’s albums have made it to the top spot of the UK Albums Chart. Over the years, The Charlatans have shared the stage with prominent artists/bands including The Who, The Rolling Stones, Liam Gallagher of Oasis, Gerry Cinnamon, The Vaccines, Gene, and Beady Eye. Here we present the all-time ten best songs from The Charlatans.

#10 – Love is The Key

Opening our list of the ten best songs from The Charlatans is the ravishing hit “Love is The Key.” The song is among the musical gems featured on the band’s seventh studio album, Wonderland. While Tim Burgess’ falsetto vocals might not be as magical as those of legendary artists such as Frankie Valli or Jeff Buckley, they surprisingly add some glamour to his delivery.

Joining Tim on the vocals is background vocalist Stacy Plunk who also does quite some impressive work too! “Love is The Key” is quite a catchy alternative rock ballad tinged with some R&B inflections. The song was a mainstream success, peaking at number sixteen on the UK Singles Chart.

#9 – Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over

“Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over” is one of the most revered hits off the band’s eponymous studio album. Like most of the songs on this album, “Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over” finds the band blending ‘60s rock sound with Britpop influences. Without a doubt, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were the biggest rivals in the Britpop scene. The Charlatans might not have squarely declared who their chosen kings of the Britpop scene were but our number nine pick might as well leak some facts about the same.

The band went on to cite former member of The Beatles, John Lennon as a man who culturally impacted the Britpop scene. As a result, The Charlatans based two of its songs on phrases off John Lennon’s 1973 hit “Bring On the Lucie (Freda People).” The two songs include our ninth pick “Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over” and “Just Lookin’.” “Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over” was a mainstream success, peaking at the twelfth spot on the UK Singles Chart.

#8 – Plastic Machinery

Despite being one of the most underrated outfits in the ‘90s, The Charlatans’ endured glory stamped its remarkable value in the classic rock scene. Enough proof of the aforementioned is the band’s most recent album Different Days, issued in 2017. Led by its first single, “Plastic Machinery,” the album oozes an outstanding blend of the band’s indie rock and alternative rock sounds.

“Plastic Machinery” is a song illustrative of the band’s refreshing work evocative of its success in the ‘90s. The song’s lyrics allude to searching for the rare moment of beauty in a dark world. Despite its quite melancholic mood, this song manages to bring a fresh feeling showing the band’s interminable commitment to churn out classics.

We cannot seem to get enough of Tim Burgess’ haunting vocals which seem to have aged like fine wine! Honored to join The Charlatans on this song is Johnny Marr, a former member of The Smiths. Marr joins Mark Collins on the guitars — the duo is not afraid of showcasing its synchronized dexterity on the guitar!

#7 – Sproston Green

Before they ventured into the alternative rock/indie rock sound, The Charlatans played an impactful role in the then-burgeoning Madchester scene. The Charlatans might not have managed to topple the blistering swagger of forerunners in the Madchester scene such as Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses. However, hits like “Sproston Green” and “Then” still managed to stamp the band’s undeniable impact in the Madchester scene.

We saw the hit “Then” impress on the UK mainstream, peaking at the twelfth spot. However, it is no surprise that we choose “Sproston Green” over “Then”— fans of The Charlatans can tell it better! “Sproston Green” has its anthemic nature guarantees it a spot on our list as one of the fan-favorite tracks by the band.

The song perfectly interweaves Rob Collins’ organ riffs, John Baker’s guitar riffs, and Jon Brooke’s alluring drums. The result is a sizzling groove to this banging ballad, so remarkable to dare forget! “Sproston Green” never made it big in the UK mainstream charts but graced the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart, peaking at number twenty-five.

#6 – Blackened Blue Eyes

Number six on our ten best songs from The Charlatans is the charming hit “Blackened Blue Eyes.” The song is among the top musical gems featured on the band’s ninth studio album, Simpatico. Similar to most tracks on Simpatico, “Blackened Blue Eyes” is a groove-oriented ballad. The song is enough proof of the band’s endured pursuit of pulsating rock and roll ballads thanks to its inexorable rhythm section.

“Blackened Blue Eyes” features iridescent guitar riffs complemented by remarkable organ riffs. Tim Burgess’ vocal delivery on this song is also outstanding. “Blackened Blue Eyes” is among the best songs from The Charlatans produced by Jim Lowe, a singer/producer known for his production work on albums by Stereophonics. “Blackened Blue Eyes” is the band’s last hit to ever make it to the top forty of the UK Singles Chart, peaking at the twenty-eighth spot.

#5 – How High

Tellin’ Stories marked the band’s third studio album to have topped the UK Albums Chart, enough proof of something great going on with The Charlatans’ music career. The album, now platinum-certified in the UK, harbors the fifth pick of our ten best songs from The Charlatans, “How High.” “How High” is among the top classic rock ballads that feature prodigious organic rhythm sections.

The delivery of this song oozes high energy and brilliance in Tim Burgess’ vocals. While we have not mentioned Martin Blunt’s skillfulness in other songs discussed above, “How High” gives us a perfect platform to do so. His punchy yet impressive bass work adds quite some power to this classic rock ballad. “How High” made it to the sixth spot on the UK Singles Chart.

#4 – Weirdo

“Weirdo” is among the top musical gems that take us back to the band’s beginnings as one of the significant outfits in the burgeoning Madchester scene. The song was issued as the lead single to the band’s sophomore studio album Between 10th and 11th, following the success of other ‘baggy’ dance-rock ballads such as “Then,” “Sproston Green,” and “The Only One I Know.”

“Weirdo” was a huge mainstream success making it to the radio and receiving regular rotation on MTV. The song was the band’s biggest hit in the US having topped Cracker’s hit “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)” off the top spot of the Billboard Modern Rock Charts in May 1992. As a matter of fact, “Weirdo” is not the only successful Madchester-tinged hit in the US.

Earlier in 1991, the hit “Kinky Afro” by Happy Mondays also climbed atop the Billboard Modern Rock Chart. “Weirdo” would later reach the nineteenth spot on the UK Singles Chart. While “Weirdo” might seem to have outshined all other hits on the album, the track “Can’t Even Be Bothered” comes close to toppling it off ‘the best song on the album’s title, thanks to its striking nature and effortless melancholy.

#3 – North Country Boy

Released as the second single off The Charlatans’ fifth studio album Tellin’ Stories, “North Country Boy” proves strong enough to appear on our top three hits on this list. The song has probably some of the best guitar licks you’ll ever hear from The Charlatans’ tracks. “North Country Boy” has the beauty of its instrumentation buttressed by the impressive organ tunes evocative of Rob Collins’ brilliance.

The song was the second song by The Charlatans to ever reach number one in Scotland after “One to Another.” “North Country Boy” made it to number four on the UK Singles Chart. The song remains one of the most straightforward Britpop hits by the band to date.

#2 – One to Another

The release of “One to Another” coincided with The Charlatans’ supporting act role in Oasis‘ UK tour. The song was issued as the lead single of the band’s fifth studio album Tellin’ Stories. “One to Another” is a killer track that starts off with an explosive intro. The song proceeds with its ringing rhythm section and a vicious drum loop contributed by Tom Rowlands of The Chemical Brothers.

Rob Collins makes his presence on this song recognizable thanks to his imposing organ riffs. His organ tunes seems to have been structured around Mark Collins’ guitar riffs. The late drummer Jon Brookes and bassist Martin Blunt are not left behind having their skillfulness recognizable on the rhythm section of this track, albeit from a distance.

“One to Another” topped the Scottish Singles Chart, rising to the third spot on the UK Singles Chart. The song was silver-certified in the UK, proving to have been one of the band’s most commercially successful records.

#1 – The Only One I Know

Coming in atop the ten best songs by The Charlatans is the grooving hit “The Only One I Know.” The song rose to signature status almost imminently after its release for the band’s debut studio album Some Friendly. The Charlatans made their name thanks to the effective utilization of the Hammond organ by the late Rob Collins whose playing style was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

However, “The Only One I Know” has been cited to have lifted its catchy organ riff from the 1968 Deep Purple cover of the hit “Hush,” a song originally issued by Billy Joe Royal in 1967. “The Only One I Know” also pays homage to the 1967 hit “Everybody’s Been Burned” by The Byrds, sampling its lyrics. Tim Burgess went on to cite “The Only One I Know” as an ode to teenage feelings.

“The Only One I Know” oozes a unique blend of ‘60s psychedelia and northern soul by The Charlatans, crowning the band as one of the most influential acts in the Madchester scene. The song was the highest-charting single off Some Friendly, peaking at the ninth spot on the UK Singles Chart. “The Only One I Know” made it to the fifth spot on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart.

The song went on to win the Best Single accolade in the 1990 NME Awards ceremony. Amazingly, The Charlatans also bagged the Best New Band/Artist accolade in this ceremony too daring to go head-to-head with the fellow Madchester-influenced band Happy Mondays. Happy Mondays went on to win the Best Band accolade in the same award ceremony that year.

Top 10 Songs From The Charlatans article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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