The Charlatans: Between 10th and 11th (Expanded Edition) (Beggars Arkive) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, January 18th, 2021  

The Charlatans

Between 10th and 11th (Expanded Edition)

Beggars Arkive

Sep 08, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The most meaningful reissues are those that offer a collective opportunity to reevaluate, not just celebrate. The Charlatans’ second album was well received by some outlets on its release in 1992, but those who remember the era will recall the British music press generally being down on it, and quick to shunt it aside once the band’s mid-’90s heyday commenced. The lingering impression was unfortunate, but it means that Between 10th and 11th can rightfully claim to be the real hidden gem in their catalog. 

Looking back, the unfavorable critical estimations might have had more to do with the build-them-up-and-knock-them-down cycle that was so prevalent in the UK music press. Having come out surfing the Madchester wave with some bright early singles and a strong debut LP, perhaps the pop music calendar determined it was simply “their time” for a bit of backlash. The Charlatans weren’t the only ones being prematurely taken down a peg at that very moment. In the same September 1992 issue of Melody Maker that wondered “Whatever Happened to Shoegazing?” on its cover, a write up of the Charlatans’ performance at that summer’s Reading Festival was more concerned with singer Tim Burgess’ stage manners than the music. 

This wasn’t the case in the U.S., where the album’s single, “Weirdo,” made it onto radio and MTV, and became the Charlatans’ best known song through the decade. Maybe it’s because it was named after Manhattan avenues, or maybe it’s because the songs and Flood’s production had a more transatlantic feel than debut Some Friendly, but the connection between Between 10th and 11th and America is reconfirmed by this expanded reissue. For one, there’s the photograph that stretches across the inside of the gatefold vinyl cover (where even the bananas are expanded), of late keyboardist Rob Collins playing to a huge crowd in Washington, D.C. in 1992. Even more significant is the concert recording they chose for the bonus LP, the old fan club Isolation 21.2.91 bootleg of their February 1991 show at the Metro in Chicago.

Burgess’ album listening parties on Twitter this year have by now included most Charlatans albums, and back in April it was Between 10th and 11th’s turn. Good insights were revealed, most interesting among them being that the band entered the studio with essentially only two songs fully witten for it, “Weirdo” and “Can’t Even Be Bothered.” This makes sense in that those are both standout tracks, but what it really throws into relief is how much The Charlatans were improving as songwriters and musicians at the time. Some Friendly had groove and hooks, but with dynamic compositions like “Ignition,” “Subtitle,” and “Can’t Even Be Bothered,” the band were uncovering a greater depth. “I Don’t Want to See the Sights” and “Tremolo Song” are immediate but also don’t give up everything at once. 

The album was also a step forward for Burgess, who was reaching for a more poetic voice (the lyrics are all helpfully printed on one of the inner sleeves here), specifically taking influence from E.E. Cummings with “(No One) Not Even the Rain.” Flood’s influence on the music may not have been universally lauded at the time, but his production is a significant part of what distinguishes this record in The Charlatans’ discography. Each song has its own presence, but the whole album moves in continuous flow, a quality which was surely enabled by the malleability of material which had not been set in stone before the tape began to roll. Most of all, it’s that crucial intangible, atmosphere, that colors Between 10th and 11th and places it both in and out of its era in a way unlike other Charlatans albums. (www.thecharlatans.net) 

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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