Best tunes of 2000: #7 Teenage Fanclub “I need direction”

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Creeping ever closer to the number one song on my Best tunes of 2000 list, we have, at number seven, Teenage Fanclub”s “I need direction”.

Teenage Fanclub is a criminally overlooked, alternative rock band that formed in Scotland in 1989. They were for many years a guitar heavy quartet, made up of Norman Blake, Gerard Love, Raymond McGinley, and a revolving door of drummers (finally settling on Francis MacDonald), but in recent years, have added a fifth member, Dave McGowan, on keys. Over the course of ten albums, their sound has evolved from its basis in loud, anarchic, and distorted guitars to the jangly beauty it is today, deeply rooted in their love for Big Star and the sweet sounds of harmonizing vocals. Songwriting duties are shared evenly between the band’s three principal guitarists and each take lead vocals on the songs they wrote, with all of the members adding their backing vocals to the mix.

I got into Teenage Fanclub originally in 1991 with that year’s excellent long player, “Bandwagonesque”, and have been following them closely ever since. In fact, “Howdy!”, the 2000 album on which “I need direction” appears, is their first album since “Bandwagonesque” that I didn’t purchase immediately on compact disc. Not because I stopped loving the group, mind you. It just so happened that around this time there was a little thing called Napster and the explosion and proliferation of file sharing. I admit to being pulled in. Mostly every crazed music fan salivated at the thought of limitless “free” music. Online file sharing and the MP3 changed everything for music, the music industry, and music fans (perhaps more on that another time). In 2000, however, my internet came courtesy of a dialup connection so though it was “free”, the downloads were slow. One had to be more choosy than we were in later years when high speeds became the norm. I had a copy of the single, “I need direction”, and grew to love it long before I ever purchased and listened to the rest of “Howdy!”.

And maybe it’s for this reason that I still see this song as the standout track on the album. The Gerard Love penned and helmed number is boppy with jangly guitars and sweet, almost to the point of cheese, “ba ba ba ba” harmonies that flit in and about the chorus. If you’re not with me so far, have a taste of that zippy organ Doors-esque bridge around the 2:43 mark that leads to some lovely dark guitar lickage. Sold, no?

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2000 list, click here.

18 replies on “Best tunes of 2000: #7 Teenage Fanclub “I need direction””

Good tune, and I think very of the time. On first listen, I could live without the “ba ba bahs,” but what do I know? LOL. I’ll definitely be on the alert for hearing more about this band. (No overcast skies here today. About 95 degrees and scorching sun. – And that’s Fahrenheit, as we’ve not yet figured out Celsius. 🙂

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I was in the UK when this came out, and got the CD single before the album. I remember being slightly disappointed at first, quite possibly because ‘Songs from Northern Britain’ was so fabulous (it’s in my top 50 albums of all time). But ‘Howdy’ grew upon me, not least because ‘I need direction’ grew on me. Was delighted when I saw them in Melbourne last year and this song was performed.
What a great band.

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Indeed. I’ve loved these guys since Bandwagonesque. I was so stoked when I saw they were reissuing all five of their Creation-era records on vinyl. I just closed my eyes to the price and clicked Buy. So much good music. I’d love to see them live again…

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Did ‘Songs from…’ get a vinyl re-issue? If so, I’ll be mightily pissed if I’ve missed out.
I wonder if I’d go to see them live again. The last one was the third time and the set list was pretty similar – an augmented greatest hits I guess you could say.
Do the re-issues sound good?

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They’re still on pre-order, to be delivered in August. The band did them so I’m betting they will be good. Also, yes, Songs from Northern Britain was one of the five. Check the band website. Very cool.

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