I’m in the Norman Blake fanclub

Wednesday, 11 June 2008, 10:52 | Category : Uncategorized
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I love Teenage Fanclub. They’re the first band that I really got into, way back in the heady summer of 1991, and their sun-drenched harmonies were the soundtrack to much of my 1990s. So it’s hardly a surprise that despite the disappointments of the last couple of albums, I still hang on their every word, keeping a watch out for movements and any possible good new things.

These days they’re far from prolific on the album front, with only two albums this decade and not much on the horizon. But there is the odd flurry of activity, and right now there’s stuff to report. Firstly, the band are taking to the stage at Oran Mor as part of the Glasgow West End Festival playing three nights – one electric, one acoustic, and one called ‘live obscurities’, which seems to be b-sides and suchlike. This set-up is a little reminiscent of the three nights they played at the Camden Underworld several years ago. I went to the electric one, and it’s still up there in my top five Fanclub gigs ever.

Secondly, Norman Blake is out and about, playing solo shows, mainly in support of Manchester band The Beep Seals, whose new album he produced earlier in the year. It perhaps comes as no surprise that The Beep Seals specialise in the same sort of breezy harmonies that we love the Fanclub for, but more on them another time.

Norman was in Marc Riley’s BBC 6Music studio last Wednesday to play some tunes and have a bit of a chat. The songs are at the bottom of the post, but before that, a couple of further pieces of Norman news from the interview chatter.

He’s about to do a UK tour as part of Daniel Johnston’s band – a veritable indie supergroup put together by Jad Fair, which also includes Scout Niblett , James McNew from Yo La Tengo and Mark Linkous from Sparklehorse. How’s that for impressive back-up!

And – wait for it – he even mentioned that Teenage Fanclub were intending to do some recording later in the year. Here’s hoping…

What of the songs?

The first is understandably a Daniel Johnston cover. The second an old Scottish folk song called Banks of Strathdon, and the third is a Blake original, though it too is the fruit of another interesting collaboration. Baby Lee has come out of Burnsong Songhouse, a songwriting project where songwriters are locked in a house in Dumfries and have to write songs together to perform at a show at the end of the week. Norman worked with Jo Mango and Ziggy Campbell from FOUND to create this wee gem. Enjoy!

Download: Norman Blake – Sad and Lonely (live on BBC 6Music)
Download: Norman Blake – Banks of Strathdon (live on BBC 6Music)
Download: Norman Blake – Baby Lee (live on BBC 6Music)

Norman photo from poketo’s Flickr.

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