Categories: Interviews

Charlatans UK Get Down to Business

If you want it done right, sometimes you have to do it yourself.

At least that’s how the Charlatans UK saw the situation during the recording of its fourth eponymous Beggars Banquet/Atlantic album (due Sept. 12). Midway through the sessions, lead singer Tim Burgess said, they axed producer Steve Hillage.

“We felt he was slowing it down too much,” Burgess said recently. “We got a bit wacky in the middle because we were producing it between the five of us, but I think there’s a lot more personality in it now and that’s what people need to hear from us this time around.”

Burgess isn’t knocking the Charlatans’ last effort, 1994’s overlooked “Up To Our Hips,” but he said their sound had grown too heavy and predictable. With their new self-titled album, they wanted to toss an unexpected curve here and there, fusing rock, blues and soul.

“And we wanted to record it really quickly,” Burgess said, “and Hillage was getting up in the morning around 12 o’clock and then we wouldn’t start until about 4 and it was just bogging us down a bit.

“We still had a bit of enthusiasm, but he was dragging it out, so we just wrapped it up in about three weeks after he left.”

Just as well, the British group delivered a witty slab of soulful pop. A week before its Aug. 28 release in Britain, they already have a chart hit there with “Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over.” The first U.S. single, “Just Lookin’,” is a sweeping look at the youth of Britain.

“It’s saying to them, ‘get up and do something,’ ” Burgess said. “The youth spirit has been shattered in England. People are told to sit down and shut up. I wanted it to be my ‘Blowin’ in the Wind.’ When we do the festivals (in England), everyone seems to pick up on this one.”

The Charlatans came with the Manchester Sound wave in 1990, scoring a gold record and a No. 1 album in their homeland with “Some Friendly,” featuring the danceable “The Only One I Know” and “Then.” While many of their contemporaries (what became of the Happy Mondays?!) faded into obscurity, the Charlatans explored other areas – psychedelic dance pop and funk – with 1992’s “Between 10th & 11th” and last year’s “Up To Our Hips.”

God only knows how they have survived this long, Burgess said.

“We’re just doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We have a completely different vision than we had five years ago. We’re our own men.

“I want to go on a journey and I don’t know where it’s going to end. We’ve had a few ups and we’ve had a few downs, but we’re going somewhere … I don’t know where, but it’s somewhere.

“I think people now are thinking we’re finally becoming a rock group and having a lot of nerve. We won’t let anyone keep us down. We feel pretty head strong … quite a real team at the moment.”

Gerry Galipault

Gerry Galipault debuted Pause & Play online in October 1997. Since then, it has become the definitive place for CD-release dates — with a worldwide audience.

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