Recently there was an excellent article by (we think) the Harvard Business School, dissecting the specious arguments emanating from the record industry about peer-to-peer networks and the devastating effect that file-sharing is having on CD sales.
Although such an illustrious institution would not phrase it so, in effect the article said "Bollocks. The reason that the purchase of new CD's is in decline is 'cos you guys have consolidated, squeezed choice and diversity out of the market, and what you are churning out is conservative keech that fewer folk want to buy."
It was an argument that touched a deep nerve with FirstFoot and evoked much sage stroking of beards, scratching of arses and the occasional left-hand index finger up the right nostril for a wee dig around.
And the reason for the mutterings of assent have much to do with the subject of this article. Teenage Fanclub ought to be able to be tolerated and promoted by any decently sized record company. Sparkling, melodic, tuneful, idiosyncratic pop of the highest order. And yet, after more than a decade of releasing albums and touring globally, they now find themselves without major label support.
The Fannies - That was then
If you're going to wear your influences on your sleeve, make sure they're good ones. Otherwise the smart-arse journalists that the music press employ tend to revel in trashing you. In the case of Teenage Fanclub, the referenceable influences are premiere league music maestros ....... The Byrds, Big Star, Neil Young, The Beatles and The Beach Boys.
Formed in 1989 from the remnants of The Boy Hairdressers, this Glasgow band were in the studio recording the foundation of their first album, A Catholic Education, before they had done any live gigs, had a record deal, done any radio, had any press .... optimistic bastards.
But the basis of their optimism was solid. On the basis of the demo tapes the band were invited to do gigs with fellow Glaswegians The Pastels and Primal Scream and record deals with American and UK independent labels followed shortly thereafter.
Within 12 months the band would be doing their first US tour and falling in love with the States.
The second album Bandwagonesque, released in late 1991, was hailed by the American Spin magazine as "the greatest album made by white people in ten years". By this time the band were signed to Alan McGee's Creation Records and to the mighty Geffen label in the US.
The next 12 months was a whirlwind as the band became the darlings of some and the hate figures of others, of gigs with grunge gods Nirvana, of US and European tours, much radio play and the feeling that The Fannies could be a big happening band.
But, The Fannies were never going to be the next big thing. The Great Scots Musicography suggests that the term "Rock Slackers" was coined with Teenage Fanclub in mind. Tales from the studio suggest that there were more important things than releasing material on time and to budget. Things like Scotland playing in Euro 96, table football, golf ......
Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Six Seconds and well worth getting your grubby hands on
Still, when sparkling pop like "Songs From Northern Britain", their 1997 highpoint album is the result of such slacking, then who's complaining? Certainly not this bunch of old farts. The first single from the album, "Ain't That Enough", also saw The Fannies first Top of The Pops appearance and the album went to Number 3 in the UK.
As this article is being written, Teenage Fanclub are still writing and recording. They haven't got a major record deal, but they do have a faithful and devoted global following. And there is a place for them. It's in the heart.
Definitely one of Scotland's best exports. Check them out.