The Charlatans

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Takeshi Suga

One of the most widely-loved British bands of the 90s, The Charlatans were formed in the West Midlands in 1988 by bassist Martin Blunt, with the original line-up also including keyboardist Rob Collins, drummer Jon Brookes, guitarist Jon Baker and frontman Baz Ketley. By their 1989 debut single Indian Rope, Ketley had been replaced by Tim Burgess, as the four other members relocated to their new singer’s hometown of Northwich.

Despite being grouped in with the nascent ‘Madchester’ scene by some sections of the press, the band viewed themselves in the lineage of fellow Midlands groups such as The Spencer Davis Group and Dexys Midnight Runners, as borne out by the Hammond-led groove of The Only One I Know, their first top ten single in 1990. The accompanying album Some Friendly didn’t quite maintain the success, and in the US the quintet were forced to become ‘The Charlatans UK’, owing to the veteran San Francisco psych outfit of the same name. Baker left in 1991 to be replaced by former Waltones guitarist Mark Collins (no relation to Jon).

Their following two records Between 10th And 11th (1992) and Up to Our Hips (1994) both performed well, although only the former album’s Weirdo maintained the success of The Only One I Know in the singles chart. In 1995 their self-titled fourth album reached the number one spot, spawning the number 12 hit Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over. With the band at the peak of their success thus far, however, tragedy struck on 22 July 1996 when Rob Collins was killed in a car crash, midway through the recording sessions for fifth album Tellin’ Stories.

Keyboard player Martin Duffy of Primal Scream (and ex- of 1980s jangle-poppers Felt) stepped in for subsequent live dates and recordings, and when The Charlatans returned in August that year with new single One To Another, they were rewarded with the number three spot, their highest charting single to date. Tellin’ Stories was released the following year, matching its predecessor at the top of the charts and featuring the hits North Country Boy and How High. The band marked the end of an 8-year association with the Beggars Banquet label in 1998 with the best-of compilation Melting Pot.

Signing to major label Universal, the band hired long-term keyboard player Tony Rogers and opted for a country-influenced sound on 1999’s Us And Us Only, garnering more hits in the shape of Forever and My Beautiful Friend. The warm, party-fuelled funk of 2001’s Wonderland also represented a significant gear shift, as the single Love Is The Key lingered just outside the top 10.

Although the band remained popular on the live circuit, the following album Up At The Lake (2004) was a relative disappointment, certified silver when the previous four records had achieved gold or platinum. The Charlatans signed to Sanctuary for the dub-influenced Simpatico (2006), before opting to release 2008’s You Cross My Path as a free download via alternative music radio station XFM’s website. Two years later, Who We Touch emerged via Cooking Vinyl, before the band’s return to major label status for 2015’s Modern Nature, released via BMG.

On 13 Aug 2013, drummer Jon Brookes passed away, having suffered from brain cancer since a mid-tour tumour diagnosis in 2010. Peter Salisbury (formerly of The Verve) has stood in on drums since, albeit on a temporary basis.

The Charlatans Band Members

Tim Burgess (vocals)
Mark Collins (guitar)
Martin Blunt (bass)
Tony Rogers (keyboards)

Former members

Baz Ketley (vocals, guitar – 1989)
Jon Day (guitar – 1989-1991)
Rob Collins (keyboards – 1989-1996)
Jon Brookes (drums – 1989-2013)
Martin Duffy (keyboards – 1996-1997)
Peter Salisbury (drums – touring member, 2010, 2013, 2015)

The Charlatans Discography:

The Charlatans have released 12 full-length albums, as well as three live albums, and five collections of singles, B-sides or radio session tracks. Their first single was Indian Rope, released by the Ded Dead Good label in 1989.

  • Some Friendly (1994) 
    Between 10th And 11th (1996)
    Up To Our Hips (1998)
    The Charlatans (2001)
    Tellin' Stories (2004)
    Us And Us Only (2007)
    Wonderland (2015)
    Up At The Lake (2004)
    Simpatico (2006)
    You Cross My Path (2008)
    Who We Touch (2010)
    Modern Nature (2015)

  • Live albums
    Live It Like You Love It (2002)
    Live At Delamere Forest (2007)
    Some Friendly – 20th Anniversary Concerts (2010)

  • Compilations
    Melting Pot (1998)
    Songs From The Other Side (2002)
    Forever: The Singles (2006)
    Collection (2007)
    The Best of The BBC Sessions 1999-2006 (2008)

  • Tim Burgess has also released solo albums entitled I Believe (2003) and Oh No I Love You (2013), and has twice collaborated with The Chemical Brothers on 1995's Life Is Sweet (Exit Planet Dust) and 2005's The Boxer (Push The Button).

The Charlatans Past Tours, Awards & Nominations

Now veterans of the live citcuit, The Charlatans have toured extensively since their formation in the late 80s, particularly the UK, and are festival regulars, having appeared at Glastonbury and the V Festival on multiple occasions.