Our Top Ten Teenage Fanclub songs looks at the work of a Scottish alternative rock band who were first formed in 1989. They released their first album A Catholic Education in 1990 which was a very noisy album and quite different to the sound that the band would later establish. After releasing an ep titled God Knows Its True they signed with Creation Records and released their second album The King which was a largely improvised recording that was done in just one day. It was originally intended to be a limited release and received much critical acclaim. It contained a very unorthodox cover of Madonna’s “Like A Virgin.”
The following year saw the release of their third album Bandwagonesque which saw them get their first taste of commercial success. It was much more accessible and conventionally recorded than either of the previous two albums and was considered to one of the best alternative rock albums released that year along with the likes of Nirvana’s Nevermind. Kurt Cobain was known to be a fan of the band even going as far to call them “the best band in the world.”
Although their next album Thirteen was met with a mixed reception, their fifth album Grand Prix was a success both critically and commercially and was their first UK top ten record. Liam Gallagher of Oasis, who were at time labelmates with Teenage Fanclub also expressed his enthusiasm for the band by calling them “the second best band in the world”, believing his own band to best the best…
Their next album Songs From Northern Britain was an even bigger success, becoming their highest charting album at number three and contained what is their biggest ever hit “Ain’t That Enough”. They have since gone on to release many more records and remain a much respected and influential band in the alternative rock genre. Their sound is heavily influenced by The Beach Boys, The Byrds and Big Star. Orange Juice are another big influence on the band. They have even performed a cover of that band’s song “Rip It Up” with their frontman Edwyn Collins. They also performed as his backing band at the ATP Bowlies Music Festival in 2010.Here is a list of their ten best songs.
# 10 – Sometimes I Don’t Need To Believe In Anything
Kicking off our top ten Teenage Fanclub songs is this track taken from their ninth album Shadows released in 2010. This was the band’s first release for five years. This is the opening track from the album and is very melancholy and uses a lot of pretty melodies. It revived a positive reception from critics.
# 9 – Baby Lee
Next up is another track from Shadows from which it was the lead single. The song is about being lovesick with someone to the point that you are willing to put your life on the line for them. The song has an almost sixties-vibe to it which is no surprise given that the band are highly influenced by The Beach Boys and The Byrds.
# 8 – Discolite
Up next we have song from the band’s fifth album Grand Prix released in 1995. This is one of the highlights of the record which is a delicious slice of power pop. The song is about frontman Gerard Love’s love for the band’s home city of Glasgow and in particular its nightlife and live music scene. As a man who has a degree in regional planning, he clearly knows that there is no place like home.
# 7 – Star Sign
Our next song is taken from the band’s third album Bandwagonesque released in 1992 which marked a transition for the band from their earlier noisier sound into their more sublimely melodic sound that they would establish as their own. They made waves in the US with this record, enough to get the attention of Kurt Cobain who fell in love with their sound.
# 6 – I Don’t Want Control Of You
The last song on the first half of this list is taken from the band’s sixth album Songs From Northern Britain released in 1997. This song is a very melodic sounding number that like the rest of this album, deals heavily with domesticity and relationships. In this sense, you could say the band are sounding a little middle-aged but on the other hand, you can view it as progression and maturity. There is a bit of a Beatles flair within this one.
# 5 – Mellow Doubt
Opening the second half of our list is another song taken from Grand Prix which is one of their most highly acclaimed albums. With this track, we have a very deep cut, dealing with the concept of a pretty bitter experience of a breakup. Vocalist Norman Blake truly wears his heart on his sleeve here, making it easy to see why Kurt Cobain was such a staunch admirer of the band’s work.
# 4 – Neil Jung
Up next we have yet another brilliant song from Grand Prix. This is a deeply personal song that is specifically about an incident that occurred between an ex-girlfriend of Norman Blake and a former friend of his called Douglas T Stewart who played in the band BMX Bandits. The song itself is a classic piece of jangly indie pop.
# 3 – The Concept
At number three we have another song taken from Bandwagonesque. This famously beat Nirvana’s Nevermind in Spin Magazine’s Top albums of 1991. In 2006 it was performed in its entirety as part of the Don’t Look Back series curated by British festival All Tomorrow’s Parties. The song was heavily featured in the 2011 film Young Adult.
# 2 – Everything Flows
Just off the top of our list we go all the way back to the band’s first album A Catholic Education released in 1990. This song is the standout track on the record, and when Nirvana toured with Teenage Fanclub in 1990, Dave Grohl remarked that with his band he wanted to write music as good them. The fact that they came out with Nevermind and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” a year later, would suggest that this record is somewhat responsible for the massive change in the rock landscape that was just around the corner.
# 1 – Ain’t That Enough
At the top of our Teenage Fanclub list is this track taken from Songs From Northern Britain which is their most commercially successful song, reaching number seventeen in the UK album charts. It was the lead single from the album. This is just great rock and roll pop music. One can hears the sounds of Tom Petty, The Beatles, Elvis Costello and so many other great rock and roll artist within this music. It’s just a stunning song and easily one of the lost gems of the 1990s.
Top 10 Teenage Fanclub Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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