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by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
For many years, the Charlatans UK were perceived as the also-rans of Madchester, the group that didn't capture the zeitgeist like the Stone Roses or the band that failed to match the mad genre-bending of the Happy Mondays. Of course, they were more traditional than either of their peers. Working from a Stonesy foundation, the Charlatans added dance-oriented rhythms and layers of swirling organs straight out of '60s psychedelia. At first, the Charlatans had great promise, and their initial singles -- including "The Only One I Know" -- were hits, but as Madchester and "baggy" faded away, the group began to look like a relic. It was commonly assumed that their third album, 1994's Up to Our Hips, was the end of the line. However, the Charlatans made a remarkable comeback in 1995 with their eponymous fourth album, which found them embracing not only the flourishing Brit-pop movement, but also underground dance and techno, as well as their mainstay of classic rock. The Charlatans UK debuted at number one, and the group was hailed as survivors. Unfortunately, few knew how literal that term was -- as the band was recording its follow-up album in 1996, organist Rob Collins, who had defined the band's sound, died in a car crash. The Charlatans decided to continue as a quartet, and their subsequent album, Tellin' Stories, debuted at number one upon its 1997 release, suggesting that they had become one of the great British journeyman bands of the '90s.
At the time of their formation in 1989, it appeared that the Charlatans were all about transience. Inspired by the emergence of the Stone Roses, Rob Collins (keyboards), Jon Baker (guitar), Martin Blunt (bass), and Jon Brookes (drums) formed the Charlatans, rehearsing with a variety of vocalists before Tim Burgess joined as their singer. The group attempted to land a record contract with no success, so they formed Dead Dead Good Records and released their debut 12" single, "Indian Rope," in January 1990. Collins' dynamic, sweeping Hammond organ distinguished the group from their Madchester peers, and the single became a number one hit on the indie charts. By the spring, they signed with Beggars Banquet, releasing "The Only One I Know" a few months later. Borrowing heavily from the Stones, jangle pop, and funk, "The Only One I Know" became a monster hit, climbing into the pop Top Ten and becoming the group's signature single. Following another hit single, "Then," the band's debut album, Some Friendly, was released in the fall, debuting at number one.
It was a remarkable beginning to their career, so perhaps it was inevitable that bad luck hit early in 1991. As they launched their first American tour, the Charlatans were forced to add "U.K." to their name since a San Franciscan garage rock band from the '60s already had claims on the name. The group returned to Britain, where they played a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Following the gig, Baker announced he was leaving the group. He was replaced by Mark Collins (no relation), yet the group was sidetracked further by Blunt's bout with severe depression. By the time the group finally released their second album, Between 10th and 11th, Madchester had become passé, and the album was ignored by the public and earned mixed reviews.
Despite their declining popularity, the Charlatans soldiered on, yet hit their biggest setback to date in late 1992, when Rob Collins was arrested as an accessory to armed robbery. The situation had been entirely accidental -- Collins had been drinking with an old friend and wound up following him into a liquor store -- but he was sentenced to eight months imprisonment. Before he went into jail, he laid down the tracks for the band's third album, which was released in early 1994, once he had left prison. Up to Our Hips received stronger reviews than its predecessor, and its single, "Can't Get Out of Bed," was a bigger hit than anything on Between 10th and 11th. It was the beginning of a comeback that culminated the summer of 1995.
Prior to the release of the group's eponymous third album, Tim Burgess sang on the Chemical Brothers' "Life Is Sweet," which re-established his hip indie credentials and gave him, and the Charlatans, credibility in electronica circles. Appropriately, The Charlatans UK demonstrated a deeper dance sensibility, as well as more concise tunes, and it unexpectedly entered the British charts at number one. Following the release of the album, the Charlatans re-entered the front rank of British rock bands and were at the peak of their popularity, as well as critical acclaim. The group was still unable to crack the American market -- initially, they were barred from touring the country due to Collins' arrest -- yet they remained popular throughout Europe and Asia.
As the group was recording its follow-up to The Charlatans UK, Collins was killed in a drunk driving accident as he headed to the studio. Although Collins was pivotal to the band's signature sound, they carried on without him, completing their fifth album, Tellin' Stories, with the assistance of Primal Scream's keyboardist, Martin Duffy. Tellin' Stories was released in the U.K. in the spring of 1997 to generally strong reviews, and it entered the charts at number one. Two years later Us and Us Only came out, followed in 2001 by the dance-inspired Wonderland. The next year saw two releases, Live It Like You Love It, recorded live in the band's hometown in December 2001, and Songs from the Other Side, a collection of B-sides from 1990-1997. The Charlatans' eighth studio album, Up at the Lake, was issued in 2004, and two years later Simpatico hit the shelves. In 2008, the group released You Cross My Path on the Cooking Vinyl label.
In 2010, the band marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Some Friendly by performing the album at Barcelona's Primavera Sound Festival. Their 11th studio album, Who We Touch, was slated for release in September of 2010.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Tracy Chapman helped restore singer/songwriters to the spotlight in the '80s. The multi-platinum success of Chapman's eponymous 1988 debut was unexpected, and it had lasting impact. Although Chapman was working from the same confessional singer/songwriter foundation that had been popularized in the '70s, her songs were fresh and powerful, driven by simple melodies and affecting lyrics. At the time of her first album, there were only a handful of artists performing such a style successfully, and her success ushered in a new era of singer/songwriters that lasted well into the '90s. Furthermore, her album helped usher in the era of political correctness -- along with 10,000 Maniacs and R.E.M., Chapman's liberal politics proved enormously influential on American college campuses in the late '80s. Of course, such implications meant that Chapman's subsequent recordings were greeted with mixed reactions, but after several years out of the spotlight, she managed to make a very successful comeback in 1996 with her fourth album, New Beginning, thanks to the Top Ten single "Give Me One Reason."
Raised in a working class neighborhood in Cleveland, OH, Chapman learned how to play guitar as a child, and began to write her own songs shortly afterward. Following high school, she won a minority placement scholarship and decided to attend Tufts University, where she studied anthropology and African studies. While at Tufts, she became fascinated with folk-rock and singer/songwriters, and began performing her own songs at coffeehouses. Eventually, she recorded a set of demos at the college radio station. One of her fellow students, Brian Koppelman, heard Chapman play and recommended her to his father, Charles Koppelman, who ran SBK Publishing. In 1986, she signed with SBK and Koppelman secured a management contract with Elliot Roberts, who had worked with Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Roberts and Koppelman helped Chapman sign to Elektra in 1987.
Chapman recorded her debut album with David Kershenbaum, and the resulting eponymous record was released in the spring of 1988. Tracy Chapman was greeted with enthusiastic reviews, and she set out on the road supporting 10,000 Maniacs. Within a few months, she played at the internationally televised concert for Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday party, where her performance was greeted with thunderous applause. Soon, the single "Fast Car" began climbing the charts, eventually peaking at number six. The album's sales soared along with the single, and by the end of the year, the record had gone multi-platinum. Early the following year, the record won four Grammys, including Best New Artist.
It was an auspicious beginning to Chapman's career, and it was perhaps inevitable that her second album, 1989's darker, more political Crossroads, wasn't as successful. Although it was well-reviewed, the album wasn't as commercially successful, peaking at number nine and quickly falling down the charts. Following Crossroads, Chapman spent a few years in seclusion, returning in 1992 with Matters of the Heart. The album was greeted with mixed reviews and weak sales, and Chapman had fallen into cult status. Three years later, she returned with New Beginning, which received stronger reviews than its predecessor. The bluesy "Give Me One Reason" was pulled as the first single, and it slowly became a hit, sending the album into the U.S. Top Ten in early 1996. It was a quiet, successful comeback from an artist most observers had already consigned to forever languish in cult status. Telling Stories followed in early 2000. Let It Rain followed two years later. For 2005's Where You Live, Chapman co-produced the album with Tchad Blake. Our Bright Future, co-produced by Chapman and Larry Klein, appeared in 2008.
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by Jason Ankeny
The atmospheric pop band the Chameleons formed in Manchester, England, in 1981 from the ashes of a number of local groups: vocalist/bassist Mark Burgess began with the Cliches, guitarists Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding arrived from the Years, and drummer John Lever (who quickly replaced founding member Brian Schofield) originated with the Politicians. After establishing themselves with a series of high-profile BBC sessions, the Chameleons signed to Epic and debuted with the EP Nostalgia, a tense, moody set produced by Steve Lillywhite which featured the single "In Shreds."
The quartet was soon released from its contract with Epic, but then signed to Statik and returned in 1983 with the band's first full-length effort, Script of the Bridge. What Does Anything Mean? Basically followed in 1985, and with it came a new reliance on stylish production; following its release, the Chameleons signed to Geffen and emerged the following year with Strange Times. The dark, complex record proved to be the Chameleons' finale, however, when they split following the sudden death of manager Tony Fletcher; while Burgess and Lever continued on in the Sun & the Moon, Smithies and Fielding later reunited in the Reegs. In 1993, Burgess surfaced with his proper solo album Zima Junction. He and his band the Sons of God toured America the following year.
As the '90s came and went, the four members of the Chameleons UK continued to work on music and see one another on a personal basis. While their own musical projects kept them busy, a reunion was practically inevitable. The Chameleons reconnected in January 2000 to prep for three May dates in England. The acoustic-based, self-released Strip was available by showtime and for a limited time only. Additional European dates followed throughout the summer, and by fall the Chameleons UK played their first American shows in nearly 15 years. Several live efforts appeared shortly thereafter. Why Call It Anything? (2001) marked the Chameleons' first studio album since 1986's Strange Times. This Never Ending Now appeared two years later.
by Jason Ankeny
Like their West Coast contemporaries Sly and the Family Stone, the Chambers Brothers shattered racial and musical divides to forge an incendiary fusion of funk, gospel, blues, and psychedelia which reached its apex with the perennial 1968 song "Time Has Come Today." The Chambers siblings -- bassist George, guitarist Willie, harpist Lester, and guitarist Joe, all of whom contributed vocals -- were born and raised in Lee County, MS; the products of an impoverished sharecropping family, the brothers first polished their vocal harmonies in the choir of their Baptist church, a collaboration which ended after George was drafted into the army in 1952. Following his discharge he relocated to Los Angeles, where the other Chambers brothers soon settled as well; the foursome began performing gospel and folk throughout Southern California in 1954, but remained virtually unknown until appearing in New York City in 1965. The addition of white drummer Brian Keenan not only made the Chambers Brothers an interracial group, but pushed their music closer to rock & roll; a well-received appearance at the Newport Folk Festival further enhanced their growing reputation, and they soon recorded their debut LP, People Get Ready.
As the Chambers Brothers toured rock clubs (including the famed Fillmore in San Francisco) and R&B venues (most notably the Apollo Theatre) alike, their music increasingly embraced elements of both; after recording 1968's Shout! for the Vault label, the group signed to Columbia to issue Time Has Come Today, scoring a major pop hit with the title track, an 11-minute psychedelic soul epic in its original album incarnation. The follow-up, A New Time--A New Day, yielded another Top 40 hit, a cover of the Otis Redding's classic "I Can't Turn You Loose," but subsequent efforts including 1969's Love, Peace and Happiness and 1970's Live at Fillmore East failed to maintain the commercial momentum. Upon completing 1972's Oh My God!, the Chambers Brothers disbanded, only to reunite two years later for Unbonded. Right Move appeared in 1975, and although no new studio records were forthcoming, the group regularly performed live in the decades to follow, with the brothers also pursuing individual projects; the Chambers Family Choir, a gospel group including the siblings' own children, remained a priority as well.
by Mark Deming (all music)
"Is it too late/To do it again?/Or should we wait/Another ten?" The Feelies have never been a band given to autobiographical self-reflection in their music, but the opening song on Here Before finds them seemingly pondering the wisdom of their own decision to re-form and return to the recording studio a full 20 years after their last album, 1991's Time for a Witness. But the Feelies needn't have worried -- one play confirms Here Before is excellent, an album that finds the band seemingly picking up where it left off and sounding as committed and invigorating as ever, reveling in the beauty and power of rhythm guitars and cracking percussion. Here Before features the complete Feelies Mk. 2 lineup that recorded The Good Earth, Only Life, and Time for a Witness -- guitarists Glenn Mercer and Bill Million, bassist Brenda Sauter, drummer Stanley Demeski, and percussionist Dave Weckerman -- and stylistically, it hits a middle ground between the gentler, more pastoral tone of The Good Earth and the more potent, electric feel of the two albums that followed. This may not be the hardest-rocking set the Feelies have ever released, but the balance of the electric and acoustic guitars on "Again Today," "Nobody Knows," and "Change Your Mind" shows there's plenty of force even in their more subdued moments, and "When You Know" and "Time Is Right" demonstrate this band is just as tight and commanding as it was in its heyday, and when the Feelies choose to turn up the amps, they haven't lost a bit of their taut impact. And as a set of songs, Here Before is their strongest work since The Good Earth in 1986; the lyrics don't explicitly address the two decades that separates this work from their last album, but there's an easy acceptance of maturity here that fits the band well, without diluting the forward momentum of the music. Now as before, there are few groups in rock & roll that perform as brilliantly and purposefully as an ensemble as the Feelies, and on Here Before their trademark sound remains a thing of wonder that hasn't been dimmed a bit by the passage of time.
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Grandes amigos reunidos para un magnífico tema y otros más que hicieron.
No os suena a Roger McGuinn ?
Publicado por Jordi Etiquetas: 80´s