The Retro Review: The Charlatans – Wonderland

So recently I had a quick shift through my M&S bag of CDs in the back of the car, looking for something ‘new’ to basically have a good sing-a-long to. I dusted off the Charlatans’ 2001 album (I know can’t believe it’s 10 years old)  Wonderland.

At the time of release, the album was heralded as the band’s finest hour (or if were getting picky 57mins 30 secs) with a change of sound, that was credited with singer Tim Burgess’ relocation to LA.

It has to be said the album does have a lot more soul and groove to it, and suprisingly stands the test of time. I have found that some Charlatans records do have their place in time, and do not age well.

For example I loved, and played to death ‘Up at the Lake’ (released in 2004) but having heard some of the songs off it recently it is more flat lager than fine wine.

Anyways I have become sidetracked, ‘Wonderland’ kicks off with the funky ‘You’re So Pretty, Were So Pretty’, which if I recall correctly featured in a Carlsberg advert a few years ago. Please do not judge it on that, it is such a great track and really sets the tone for the entire album.

From here I will try not to be generic and go track-by-track, but rather pick my favourites in no particular order.

So next is ‘And If IFall’, which was heralded as one of the finest songs the band has ever written by one reviewer whose name escapes me. Just to state right now, my memory isn’t great. ‘And If I…’ also features the only ever (to my knowledge) Tim Burgess rap near the end. You’ve changed Tim.

One track which I didn’t like originally but was a definate grower is ‘Judas’ which was criminally not considered to be released as a single. This is the first appearance of the brand spanking new Burgess falsetto, which at the time was seen as bold and innovative. It also helped to freshen up the Charlies sound, which some had considered as becoming quite predictable.

While were on diversity ‘The Bell and the Butterfly’ is a welcome instrumental piece with such a thick bass line, which showed they were in touch with their counterparts who considered delving into dance music (that’s you Mr. I Brown).

‘Love is the Key’ has personal significance for me, as I used the band’s video as a study case for when I was studying for my A Level in Media Studies. It’s not the most interesting video if I’m honest, but I was young and naive, oh and the song is a corker.

Another grower is ‘A Man Needs to be told’, which is just a real delight to play on sunny days. It really benefits from its own simplicity, and as I say about writing articles; sometimes it’s best to keep it simple.

Other highlights include ‘Right On’, ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Love To You’ which probably covers the entire album. So 10 out of 12 tracks, not bad?

So with the plummeting prices of CDs today, if you do see The Charlatans’ – Wonderland for £2.99, take a chance and you will not be disappointed. Honest.



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