I first bought some Fannies in the early 90s – ‘The Concept’ on cassingle – and then had little to no contact with them until ‘Howdy !’ around early 2001. That album and I spent a good deal of time together before I finally got around to buying some more of their stuff, but the pleasure was never repeated.
I endured the boredom of ‘Thirteen’, I liked ‘Grand Prix’ but only in passing, and ‘Man Made’ has its moments but none hitting the same heights as its predecessor. As a result, I haven’t bothered to purchase ‘Songs From Northern Britain’ despite enjoying ‘Winter’ every year in my Christmas playlist.
This single is also taken from that 1997 album, but I’m afraid that it falls into the same bracket as some of the other Teenage Fanclub releases above. It’s a perfectly reasonable piece of songwriting, very much typical of their output but that’s what makes this so workmanlike and unremarkable in its dependability and steadfastness.
And that’s why ‘Howdy !’ stands out so far – on that album all of those things that the band are capable of producing here-and-there came together beautifully. ‘Start Again’ doesn’t do anything in particular to excite attention – no major dynamic shifts, no surprising instrumentation, no properly soaring harmonies, no genuinely striking guitar parts, no neat or plainly-brilliant lyrics or phrases that emerge from the steady-as-she-goes, comforting chug.
I’m more a fan of the b-side – and not only because I’ve stored this 7” so badly such that it starts off queasily, but because it feels like a real song. It’s clear what’s happening: there’s a definite sense of progression, of narrative, of structure to it; whereas ‘Start Again’ could just be a few minutes taken out of an extended recording of some blokes in a room jamming with guitars, drums and bass.
‘How Many More Years ?’ is a song by cult band Half-Japanese off the extended version of their 1988 album ‘Charmed Life’. Frontman Jad Fair collaborated with Teenage Fanclub on their joint 2002 album ‘ Words of Wisdom and Hope’. He wrote ‘How Many More Years ?’ with guitarist and vocalist Don Fleming. It took me ages to find all this out, even with all the power of the internet, which genuinely shocked me.
Sadly, it’s painfully obvious that not a single soul out there shares my view – there’s nary a stream of it I can find to share with you. So maybe you should go tracking down catalogue number CRE 280 and take a listen to the flip…