Thirteen, Teenage Fanclub’s third album was unfairly treated by critics upon release. This may be as it followed up a bona fide classic in Bandwagonesque. Whatever the reason, it was unfair and with this reissue, it’s time to listen and enjoy with fresh ears. The album saw the band referencing their heroes Big Star with the album’s title and The Byrds with closing track Gene Clark. Initial pressings come with a bonus 7” single.
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9/10 Jocky Wilson Said Customer review, 22nd May 2018
This was viewed as a bit shabby compared to it's fabulous predecessor, Bandwagonesque, even in my eyes, initially. It is, however, a record I've grown to love very much. If only bands could put records out like this these days. It is not very well recorded - the drums sound crap, and it doesn't seem very well mixed and these are the things that seemed to make it harder to love, however, you do get used to the mix and drum sound and it seems less of a problem. Performance-wise and song-wise it's right up there. The Mudhoney-aping intro to album opener Hang On gives way to a beautiful melodic stomp with chorus featuring glorious three-part harmonies. The Cabbage crashes in with a slide guitar intro that, again, initially seems way too high in the mix. Another glorious song though. Radio was the first single to be released from the album and it's easy to see why - a wonderful 3-minute pop hit. It is followed by the album's second single, Norman 3, the intro of which back in the day I always felt was a nod the Chris Bell's I Am The Cosmos....I'm not too sure now though. The next five songs are all very good, but the highlight at this point is Gerry Love's Fear Of Flying - a song that stands up against anything in their catalogue. Tears Are Cool stands out as it's its a little different to other songs, starting with guitar and vocals and adding more instruments along the way. Ret Liv Dead is where they show their Byrds influence most clearly. Get Funky upsets me a little bit, it feels like something a bunch of 6th Formers would think is cool. Brendan O'Hare gets a writing credit for it. He left the band after this album. Enough said (He has gone on to better things than this song, though!) My favourite track on the album is the closing stomp, Gene Clark. It nods to Neil Young's proto-grunge crunch and his joy of one-note lead lines throughout its 3 minute and 35 second intro before Gerry Love's vocals come in and a verse leads to the glorious refrain of "Sleep, sleep, lay your white body down". Forget the NME's average review of this from back in the day. This is their third best album after Grand Prix and Bandwagonesque, which all in all means that it's pretty damn good.
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- Thirteen by Teenage Fanclub
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