A Catholic Education

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A Catholic Education
Studio album by
Released11 June 1990
RecordedJuly–December 1989
StudioPet Sounds, Glasgow, Scotland
Suite 16, Rochdale, England
GenreAlternative rock, power pop
LabelPaperhouse (Europe)
Matador (North America)
ProducerTeenage Fanclub
Teenage Fanclub chronology
A Catholic Education
The King
Singles from A Catholic Education
  1. "Everything Flows"
    Released: June 1990
  2. "Everybody's Fool"
    Released: November 1990

A Catholic Education is the debut album by Scottish alternative rock band Teenage Fanclub, released in 1990.

The album received positive reviews from UK music journalists and critics.[1] The album has been described as differing in tone and style from the band's later work.[2]

"Everything Flows" was later included in the compilation albums Deep Fried Fanclub and Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds – A Short Cut to Teenage Fanclub. Those were released in 1995 and 2003, respectively.


Teenage Fanclub had been formed in 1989 as a continuation of what guitarists Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley and drummer Francis MacDonald had been doing in their previous band The Boy Hairdressers. Blake: "We’d been around a lot of people trying to get record deals, and we thought, "That’s too much like hard work, let’s just make a record." They managed to raise enough money to buy studio time at Pet Sounds Studios in Glasgow. Blake later said, "Raymond sold a fridge and a washing machine his neighbour had left him, and we made ‘A Catholic Education’ from that."[3] Bassist Gerard Love: "I met Norman at a gig in May 1989, and then later on they asked if I’d be interested in joining them to record the album. By mid-July we were in the studio."[4]

After finishing his drum parts for the album, MacDonald left the band to be replaced by Brendan O'Hare. MacDonald: "I’d always said, "I’m happy to be on the record, but I’ll probably go back to university and finish my studies afterwards."[4] Even though the band now had an album’s worth of material, they weren’t completely happy with it, so they decided to rerecord four songs at Suite 16 in Rochdale with O'Hare on drums.[5]

The band originally intended to release the album themselves, but a tape of the recordings found its way to the two newly established independent record labels Paperhouse and Matador.[6][7] Both labels ended up releasing the album, Paperhouse in the UK on 11 June 1990, and Matador in the US on 2 August 1990.[8]

Album title[edit]

Norman Blake said of the album title in 2016: "A Catholic Education was an irreverent thing, we thought it would get a reaction living in the west of Scotland and we knew people would say ‘what do they mean, what’s that all about,’ kind of thing. I wasn’t Catholic but I think we wanted to provoke a response. ... Certainly no one was angry with us for calling it that. We also meant it in the other meaning of Catholic being eclectic and bringing a lot of influences to the band. We just thought it sounded good as well."[9]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[10]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[11]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[12]
The Great Rock Discography7/10[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[14]

At the time of release, A Catholic Education received mainly positive reviews from music critics.[1][15] In a retrospective review, Jason Ankeny of AllMusic noted that A Catholic Education's "gloriously sloppy and sludgy sound" was far removed from the "sparkling power pop" of their later albums. Instead, the album "prefigures the emergence of grunge, its viscous melodies and squalling guitars owing far more to Neil Young than Big Star." Ankeny concluded that despite the album's differences in attitude and approach, "there's no mistaking the effortless melodicism that remains the hallmark of all Teenage Fanclub records."[10]

Trouser Press wrote that the band's "straightforward guitar pop" was presented in a "flattering light", but that the album suffered from uneven songwriting. They felt that after "Everything Flows," "Critical Mass," "Eternal Light" and "Everybody's Fool", "slim pickings keep A Catholic Education from being a full course."[16] In another retrospective review, the music review web site Record Rewind Play wrote: "A Catholic Education is a better album than many people give it credit for - often dismissed as a feeling-their-way album chiefly of interest for one towering song" ["Everything Flows"]. They, however, felt that the album lacked "production sheen", writing: "There’s a roughness to this album that veers from charming to frustrating."[17]

Track listing[edit]

1."Heavy Metal"Raymond McGinley2:14
2."Everything Flows"Norman Blake5:12
3."Catholic Education"Blake2:34
4."Too Involved"Blake, McGinley2:39
5."Don't Need a Drum"Blake, McGinley3:18
6."Critical Mass"Blake2:48
7."Heavy Metal II"Blake, McGinley7:22
8."Catholic Education 2"Blake3:02
9."Eternal Light"Blake4:12
10."Every Picture I Paint"Blake, McGinley3:23
11."Everybody's Fool"Blake, Gerard Love, McGinley2:54
US track listing
1."Everything Flows"Blake5:12
2."Everybody's Fool"Blake, Love, McGinley2:54
3."Catholic Education"Blake2:34
4."Eternal Light"Blake4:11
5."Heavy Metal"McGinley2:14
6."Critical Mass"Blake2:48
7."Too Involved"Blake, McGinley2:38
8."Don't Need a Drum"Blake, McGinley3:18
9."Every Picture I Paint"Blake, McGinley3:23
10."Catholic Education 2"Blake3:01
11."Heavy Metal II"Blake, McGinley7:21


  • Ted Blakeway – engineering (Pet Sounds)
  • Rex Sargeant – engineering (Suite 16)


  1. ^ a b Janovitz, Bill. "Everything Flows". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
  2. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "A Catholic Education - Teenage Fanclub". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
  3. ^ Alan Woodhouse. "Interview: Norman Blake". Uncut.
  4. ^ a b Pinnock, Tom (14 August 2018). "Teenage Fanclub on their finest albums: "If writing songs wasn't difficult, everyone would be doing it!"". Uncut. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  5. ^ Lindsay, Cam (1 September 2016). "Rank Your Records: Norman Blake Merrily Rates the Ten Teenage Fanclub Albums". Noisey.vice.com. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  6. ^ Gourlay, Dom (27 September 2018). "DiS Meets Teenage Fanclub". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  7. ^ Kelly, Jennifer (2010). "Out Of The Shadows - Teenage Fanclub". Blurt. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  8. ^ Teenage Fanclub Discography
  9. ^ "Fan club not just for teens". Scottish Catholic Observer. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  10. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "A Catholic Education – Teenage Fanclub". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  11. ^ Popson, Tom (21 September 1990). "The Cure Meets the Banshees in the Glove". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  12. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Teenage Fanclub". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  13. ^ Strong, Martin C. "Teenage Fanclub Biography". The Great Rock Bible. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  14. ^ Sisario, Ben (2004). "Teenage Fanclub". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 805. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  15. ^ Mundy, Chris (14 May 1992). "Hot Band: Teenage Fanclub". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  16. ^ Robbins, Ira; Kaplan, Matthew. "Trouser Press: Teenage Fanclub". TrouserPress.com. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  17. ^ Dewhurst, Neil. "Record Rewind Play: Teenage Fanclub - A Catholic Education". RecordRewindPlay.co.uk. Retrieved 27 December 2018.