Review: Jack Foley
A SURE contender for one of the albums of the year, Wonderland
effortlessly manages to combine the best of the old with some
interesting glimpses of the new for an album of sheer brilliance.
Tim Burgess (complete with a new, higher pitched voice) and co
have teamed up with the likes of Danny Saber to really turn the
traditional sound on its head, helping to broaden the band's appeal
while certainly never alienating the hardcore Charlatans die-hards.
There are so many high points on the album, it is hard to pick
out individual moments; suffice to say that you will be hooked
from the first listen and continue to be amazed as it keeps getting
Opening track, You're So Pretty - We're So Pretty is typical
of what to expect - combining elements of former tracks such as
My Beautiful Friend (in its guitar rift) with the newer,
fresher sound, plus some nods to the Rolling Stones (surely one
of the band's many musical influences).
Elsewhere, we have the single, Love Is The Key, which
maybe represents the most radical departure; or the sublime I
Just Can't Get Over Losing You with its moody, melancholic,
but gritty back beat. Counter this with the sweet A Man Needs
to be Told or the spine-tingling And If I Fall, which
demonstrates the full range of Burgess's new vocal styles, and
you have the perfect mix of styles for a truly great album.
If you like the Charlatans, you will love this. If you've written
them off in the past, then it's time to rediscover them. But whatever
you do, make sure you give Wonderland a listen. It is destined
to become a classic.
Paul White's view...
THIS time the boys have put together an LP of 12 of the best
tracks of their career. The Charlatans have gone all out and come
back in fine style with a new, more dance style beats and country
collection of tunes.
You're So Pretty - We're So Pretty is the first track
on the LP. Tim breaks through the beats with his usual laid back,
drawn out vocals. The B-line really cuts through this tune and
drives it along, as does the drum track.
Listening to the LP, you can hear traces of The Stones and Dylan
coming through, which is no bad thing.
Judas plays on a more dance-style tip; big bass lines and some
nice stabs on the hammond are two of the elements that really
beef this tune up.
Burgess uses some falsetto vocals which cuts it to the Grade
A man and no mistake; very reminiscent to Jagger in his heyday.
It just goes to show the Charlies have got more than just a hammond
as their backbone, which brings me on nicely to the first single,
Love Is The Key.
Funky, dance-floor filler, timeless, and the Charlatans at their
most melodic and classic, this is the first time the Charlatans
used a girl for backing vocals and they roll along nicely and
give it some sweet melody. The breakdown (middle eight) breaks
and builds superbly with Burgess giving as much vocal attitude
as the first time they played Manchester Boardwalk (stylin).
The LP is jam-packed full of a mix of influences they have picked
up along their journey as one of our country's finest.
Bell and the Butterfly takes you on a fanfare ride of
beats and breaks. This is the only instrumental on the LP and
cuts it with the best of them.
Wonderland finishes off with Love To You, a very personal
tune to Burgess lyrically, as all Charlatans songs are. This,
I think, more than most.
He sings of leaving and moving far away (LA to be precise) and
his father's concern of hardly ever seeing his son. But love will
keep them tight.
The Charlies, even though they have experienced a lot of problems
- death, manic depression and being portrayed as being dead and
buried by the press before they had time to grow - have pulled
another classic LP out of their 'sac magic' and wow the world
one more time.
Happen to die, never!