Thirteen (Teenage Fanclub album)

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Thirteen
Thirteenfanclubalbum.jpg
Studio album by
Released4 October 1993
RecordedOctober 1992-April 1993
Studio
GenreAlternative rock
Length49:43
Label
Producer
Teenage Fanclub chronology
Bandwagonesque
(1991)
Thirteen
(1993)
Deep Fried Fanclub
(1995)
Singles from Thirteen
  1. "Radio"
    Released: 14 June 1993
  2. "Norman 3"
    Released: 20 September 1993
  3. "Hang On"
    Released: February 1994
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[1]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[2]
Christgau's Consumer Guide(neither)[3]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[4]
Mojo3/5 stars[5]
NME7/10[6]
Pitchfork7.2/10[7]
Q4/5 stars[8]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[9]
Uncut7/10[10]

Thirteen is the fourth album by Scottish alternative rock band Teenage Fanclub, released in 1993 on Creation Records in the UK and Geffen in the US. It was commonly believed at the time that it was named after the song "Thirteen" by Big Star,[11] a band that has heavily influenced Teenage Fanclub. The self-produced[12] album was poorly received by critics on its release.[13] It peaked at number 14 on the UK Albums Chart.[14]

Background[edit]

Recording for the album began just a few weeks after finishing the Bandwagonesque tour in 1992. "It was difficult to make", guitarist Norman Blake said in 2018. "We went into the studio and we had 40 fragments of songs. Too much information, you know?"[15] The band spent the next three to four months recording at Ca Va Sound Workshops in Glasgow, ending up with just fragmentary pieces that weren’t quite finished songs. From there, the band eventually decamped to Revolution Studios outside of Manchester for another two or three months working on the material. "We kept revising it, re-recording it, and just generally trying to improve it," said bassist Gerard Love.[16] The number of songs were then trimmed down to the ones that made up Thirteen and its corresponding B-sides.[17] "We were relatively happy with it," Blake said, "but we’d become a bit disillusioned."[15]

Some of the album's song titles are working titles. Blake: "Very often what happens is we have working titles that we ended up keeping. That explains "Commercial Alternative" and "Norman 3" – that’s the third of my songs that we recorded for the album."[15] In 2016, when asked about whether or not the album was named after the song "Thirteen" by Big Star, Blake said: "You know what? There were 13 songs on the record. But we were definitely listening to Big Star ... you can definitely hear Big Star’s influence in that music, along with a ton of other things at the time too."[17] When asked about why Thirteen was his least favourite Teenage Fanclub album, Blake said: "I’d say the reasons are more circumstantial than musical. That was an album that took us a very, very long time to make. ... So it’s not that I have anything against the songs, it’s just when I think of making that album it wasn’t a very pleasant experience. It seemed like a lot of hard work."[17]

Citing creative differences, drummer Brendan O'Hare left the band after touring for the album.[11]

Album cover[edit]

Geffen's art department had offered to come up with an idea for the album's cover art. Blake: "So we said, "Sure, feel free. Obviously we’ll have to think about what you come up with, but send us some ideas." A few months later the band received "this image of a girl crying with mascara running in a white t-shirt with a 13 on it." The band, however, rejected the idea as they didn't feel it represented the music. "I think they were trying to market us to teenage girls", Blake said. "But we ended up having to pay them ten grand, because they got a photographer, a studio, and models. They had to pay them off." In the end, the band put together the sleeve themselves. Blake: "Jeff Koons did an art piece with a basketball suspended in water, which I liked the look of, so I thought I’d just rip that off because he does that with other people’s ideas."[17]

Reception[edit]

At the time of release, Thirteen received mostly negative reviews. Music critic Robert Christgau gave it a "neither" rating, indicating that an album "may impress once or twice with consistent craft or an arresting track or two. Then it won't."[3] Spin denounced Teenage Fanclub for making "a fetish of smothering emotion under a blanket of stoic formalism." Rolling Stone, however, called the album "even sweeter than its predecessor" and praised the band as "among the best recyclers [of power pop and bubblegum rock] around." Musician called it "great ear candy that we may one day learn is also nutritious."[16] Retrospective reviews were generally positive. AllMusic called it "an eminently worthy follow-up to the classic Bandwagonesque"[18] and Pitchfork wrote: "To this day, its reputation is far worse than the actual music."[19]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Hang On"Gerard Love5:05
2."The Cabbage"Norman Blake2:56
3."Radio"Love2:56
4."Norman 3"Blake4:36
5."Song to the Cynic"Love3:36
6."120 Mins"Raymond McGinley3:07
7."Escher"McGinley3:19
8."Commercial Alternative"Blake2:40
9."Fear of Flying"Love5:25
10."Tears Are Cool"McGinley3:48
11."Ret Liv Dead"Blake2:09
12."Get Funky"Brendan O'Hare1:22
13."Gene Clark"Love6:38

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Thirteen – Teenage Fanclub". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  2. ^ Kot, Greg (28 October 1993). "Teenage Fanclub: Thirteen (DGC)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "CG: Teenage Fanclub". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Teenage Fanclub: Thirteen". Entertainment Weekly: 64. 12 November 1993.
  5. ^ Eccleston, Danny (September 2018). "Whatever you want". Mojo (298): 100.
  6. ^ Dalton, Stephen (2 October 1993). "Teenage Fanclub – Thirteen". NME. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  7. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (11 August 2018). "Teenage Fanclub: Bandwagonesque / Thirteen / Grand Prix / Songs From Northern Britain / Howdy!". Pitchfork. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Teenage Fanclub: Thirteen". Q (86): 137. November 1993.
  9. ^ Azerrad, Michael (11 November 1993). "Teenage Fanclub: Thirteen". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 18 September 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  10. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (September 2018). "Teenage Fanclub: Bandwagonesque / Thirteen / Grand Prix / Songs from Northern Britain / Howdy!". Uncut (256): 51.
  11. ^ a b Collar, Matt. "Teenage Fanclub - AllMusic biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  12. ^ Taylor, Steve (2006). A to X of Alternative Music. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 259.
  13. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Thirteen — Teenage Fanclub". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  14. ^ "Teenage Fanclub - Thirteen". chartarchive.org. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  15. ^ a b c Stubbs, Dan (10 August 2018). "Teenage Fanclub: the story behind their brilliant Creation-era albums – and the time Liam mimed an entire Oasis album for them". NME. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  16. ^ a b Glickman, Simon; Taylor, Ken. "Teenage Fanclub - Rock group". encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  17. ^ a b c d Lindsay, Cam (1 September 2016). "Rank Your Records: Norman Blake Merrily Rates the Ten Teenage Fanclub Albums". Noisey.vice.com. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  18. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Thirteen – Teenage Fanclub". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  19. ^ Sodomsky, Sam (11 August 2018). "Teenage Fanclub: Bandwagonesque / Thirteen / Grand Prix / Songs From Northern Britain / Howdy!". Pitchfork. Retrieved 11 August 2018.