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Members include Martin Blunt, bass; Jon Brookes, drums; Tim Burgess, vocals; Mark Collins, guitar (replaced Jon Baker, 1991); and Rob Collins, keyboards. Addresses: Record company--Atlantic Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.

The Charlatans timed their entrance into England's music scene impeccably: they formed in Northwich, just 20 miles outside of Manchester, where a new rock and roll sound had developed, in 1989, just as "the Manchester Sound" was about to get a lot of attention. Thus the Charlatans--along with the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, and Inspiral Carpets--became one of the originators of what was actually the second wave of the Manchester scene, described as a "danceable combination of mind-expanding grooves, sing-along melodies and psychedelia."

Though some accused the Charlatans of planning their strategy specifically to exploit the Manchester scene, they consistently tried to disassociate themselves from it in the press. "Why should we be defined by any city? We've never considered ourselves to be from any scene," singer Tim Burgess told David Wild in Rolling Stone. "If we're anything, we're a British band--we're popular all over the country."

Initially, the Charlatans asked Steve Harrison--owner of Omega Music, a record store in Northwich--to manage the band. Harrison took singer Tim Burgess to one of the Charlatans' club performances; Burgess loved the band, but he thought the singer was "poor." He told Harrison he would like to sing for the band. The band split up for a few months, then reemerged in August of 1989. Burgess had joined bassist Martin Blunt, guitarist Jon Baker, keyboardist Rob Collins, and drummer Jon Brookes in their assault on England's music world.

The Charlatans independently released their first single, "Indian Rope," in early 1990; it sold nearly 20,00 copies. The single and their live performances received favorable responses from their audiences and gained some attention from the U.K. press. Ian McGregor of Melody Maker reported his observations of the crowd at one of the Charlatans' early performances, noting, "The audience is seriously baggy--baggy hair, baggy clothes, baggy dancing."

Talent scouts of the British label Beggars Banquet took notice of the band as well and signed them in 1990. They released their debut, Some Friendly, that year. Within two days of its release, the record went gold in England and debuted at Number One on the U.K. charts. Some Friendly featured the songs "The Only One I Know," "Then," and "Overrising." The Charlatans had made their mark.

When the time came to take their music to the United States, the Charlatans discovered that a San Francisco-based band fronted by one Dan Hicks had played under the same name. So, the Charlatans voluntarily added "UK" to their name to set themselves apart. "Really, it shouldn't be the Charlatans UK," Burgess asserted in Rolling Stone. "It should be the Charlatans the World, shouldn't it?"

The Charlatans did take their tour worldwide from America, performing in Japan, England, and Europe, where they played numerous festival dates. Critics generally received the band with praise but accused them of trying to recreate 1960s music with their psychedelic sound. "We want to be progressive, not retrospective," Burgess insisted in Rolling Stone. The singer told Chris Roberts in Melody Maker, "We are a band of our time, but I think we'll exceed the time.... I just think we're the ultimate force. As a unit, we are the ultimate force. I can say that with a lot of confidence."

In a thorny twist, the year 1991 threw many obstacles in the path of the Charlatans UK. In August Jon Baker left the band, claiming he had nothing more to offer the project. Then, in October, the group was forced to cancel several concerts in Europe because bassist Martin Blunt had collapsed from a mental breakdown while the band was in the studio. According to a report in Melody Maker, Blunt is a diagnosed manic depressive and suffered similar attacks before the Charlatans signed with Beggars Banquet. Blunt kept a doctor in the studio with him after he was discharged from the hospital.

The Charlatans recruited guitarist Mark Collins, formerly of the Waltones, to replace Baker. And in 1992 the band released their second album, Between 10th & 11th, and their hit single "Weirdo." Produced by Flood, who had worked with the likes of U2, Depeche Mode, and Nine Inch Nails, the LP nonetheless did not measure up to the success of the group's debut. It spent just two weeks on the Billboard 200 and sold less than 100,000 copies in the United States.

Adversity hit the band again in December of 1992, when Rob Collins was arrested with his friend Michael Whitehouse on charges relating to an armed robbery. Collins claimed that he did not think Whitehouse would commit the crime--until he heard a gunshot while he waited for him in his car. When Whitehouse returned, he drove him away from the scene. Collins pleaded guilty to assisting the offender, and the court sentenced him to eight months in jail.

The Charlatans spent 1993 recording their next album, though they did take some time off to play the two-day Daytripper Festival in Brighton, a show in Blackpool, and the alternative-rock Reading Festival. They returned in 1994 with Up To Our Hips, which they recorded at Monnow Valley studios in Monmouth, south Wales, with producer Steve Hillage. They released "Can't Get Out of Bed" as the first single from the album and began yet another worldwide jaunt.

The Charlatans had survived the rise and demise of the Manchester music scene. "I think it was really healthy for music at the time," Burgess said in an Atlantic Records press biography. "I'm proud to have grown up in Northwich and lived through it. There were a lot of groups that came and went, but the music's always been more important than where it came from."

The Charlatans had modified their organ-drenched sound to lean more on guitars. "Everyone's always said we're a strong live band," Burgess explained in the band's biography, "and we wanted to sound that good on record. We let ourselves go a bit." With a new approach to their music, the band also decided the time had come to drop the UK from their name. They did not decide to change it to "the Charlatans the World," but no doubt they still plan to conquer it.

by Sonya Shelton

Charlatans, The's Career

Band formed in Northwich, England, 1989; released independent single "Indian Rope," 1990; signed with Beggars Banquet and released debut album, Some Friendly, 1990.

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over 8 years ago

Yes and it was me who told Steve to get Tim as vocals as Tim was the only guy who I ever saw sing with his back to the crowd - eh the good old days - keep going guys Cheers Andy