100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #83 Teenage Fanclub – Star Sign

Released : 1991

Not many bands “Find their feet” (as Teenage Fanclub have subsequently claimed they were doing) on an album like Bandwagonesque. It was a worrying era right enough; whilst most other British bands were fretting about how to incorporate the juggernaut that was American rock into their music – be it C86 twee or shoegaze pedaltry – the Scots found themselves already pretty much at their destination.

An attempt to find different influences on the band’s third album other than the obvious and most quoted ones is always tempting, but the pervasive tones of The Byrds, Big Star and Dinosaur Jr. are so inescapable on Bandwagonesque that it’s a pointless excercise. What set it apart though was how effortless the songwriting triumvirate of Raymond McGinley, Norman Blake and Gerard Love made this osmosis sound, with many other candidates failing spectacularly or sounding at best counterfeit versions of themselves.

The band were recording on the Creation label’s tab and reputedly boss Alan McGee was erm, paranoid, about them footing the bill whilst the object of his affection opted for a major,but few could deny he was paid back in spades for taking the risk. Star Sign was one of the session’s many peaks, a dazzling hybrid, surf rock a la Mary Chain served up by Alex Chilton on a bed of candy floss and deep fried pizza. Few songs have split the continental divide so perfectly either before or since, the fuzzy harmonies perfection and the slacker refrain of “Big deal” dialing it in to Gen X diffidence. Yankification? Teenage Fanclub were doing just fine.


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