There are two bands with the name The Charlatans.
1960s: A US psychedelic rock band from San Francisco.
1990s-present: A UK indie rock band from Manchester.
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The Charlatans (known as Charlatans UK in the USA to avoid confusion with the 1960's group of the same name) were originally formed in Birmingham, England by bassist Martin Blunt, who recruited fellow West Midlanders; Rob Collins (keyboards), Jon Brookes (drums), John Baker (also known as Day) (guitar) plus vocalist Baz Ketley.
- Early days (1990-91) -
Former Electric Crayons singer Tim Burgess (from Northwich) replaced Ketley before the release of The Charlatans debut single "Indian Rope" in 1990 on the band's own Dead Dead Good Records label. It proved an indie hit and the group soon found a major label, Beggars Banquet off-shoot Situation Two, in time for the release of The Only One I Know which reached the Top 10 in the UK singles chart.
A further single, Then, and debut album Some Friendly, were released later that year to great commercial and critical acclaim.
- Line-up change / Lack of success (1991-94) -
Baker left the band after 1991's Over Rising single to be replaced by Mark Collins (no relation to Rob), who made his debut on another non-album single, "Me. In Time".
The band brought in maverick producer Flood for their poorly-received second album Between 10th and 11th (named after the address of the New York Marque, site of the group's first U.S. gig) which failed to hit the top twenty in the UK. The follow-up album, Up to Our Hips, was hailed as a return to form, and reached number 8 in the UK albums chart.
- Mid-nineties resurgence / Death of Rob Collins (1995-97) -
In 1995 the band's fourth self-titled album saw them become major UK stars again, topping the UK albums chart and spawning the top 20 single, "Just When You're Thinking Things Over".
But, keyboard player Rob Collins was tragically killed in a car crash during the recording of fifth album Tellin' Stories on July 22, 1996, just as things seemed to be going well for the band. After much soul-searching The band decided to continue and Primal Scream and former Felt keyboardist Martin Duffy was drafted in for The Charlatans high-profile support slot with Oasis at their Knebworth gigs in summer 1996 until a permanent replacement for Collins could be found.
Tellin' Stories was released in 1997 featuring contributions from both Rob Collins and Duffy; and in the singles One to Another, North Country Boy and How High the group had their biggest UK hits to date sounding more like a classic rock act now than ever before.
- New record label / New keyboard player (1998-2004) -
After releasing the career-spanning compilation Melting Pot the band's contract with Beggars Banquet was up, and they signed for Universal Records with Burgess stating that, although he and the band had enjoyed their time on the independent record label they had made next to no money in the eight years since their first release. Relations with 'Beggars' remained strong however, and the band helped put together the DVD "Just Lookin' 1990 - 1997" showcasing all their promo videos and a selection of live recordings from that era and b-sides collection Songs from the Other Side, both of which were released in 2002.
Us and Us Only saw the start of a new era for The Charlatans. Their first release for Universal saw new keyboard player Tony Rogers make his Charlatans album debut (he had previously toured in support of "Tellin' Stories" and contributed to b-sides "Keep It to Yourself" and "Clean Up Kid" (from the How High single) and the band took on a slightly country sound, heavily influenced by Burgess's love of Bob Dylan. The soul influenced Wonderland followed in 2001 prooving Tim Burgees to be a very skilled singer into the art of falsetto, before the more 'traditionally Charlatans sounding' Up At The Lake was released in 2004.
- The Sanctuary years (2005-present) -
The band released their ninth full-length album in April 2006, their first for new label Sanctuary Records. Titled Simpatico, the reggae and dub tinged album featured tracks like the fan favourite "NYC (There's No Need to Stop)", first single "Blackened Blue Eyes", and was produced by Jim Lowe. The single charted relatively well at number 28. The album charted in the top 10 in its first week, but soon after dropped out of the charts. Their follow-up to "Simpatico" was the career-spanning singles compilation entitled "Forever: The Singles", which was released on CD and DVD in November 2006.
Radiohead have pioneeered the modern concept of musicians making money from touring and merchandising and special versions, rather than the basic recording (to combat the proliferation of illegal downloads primarily but also with an eye on a new paradigm for music distribution), and have made their latest album available for download with a minimal honesty charge. The Charlatans have gone that inevitable stage further with their latest album. You Cross My Path was released on 12th May 2008, with a deluxe collectible version available to pre-order for fans, but with the basic album available free of charge http://www.xfm.co.uk/news/2008/download-charlatans-new-album-for-free. The album is reminiscent of New Order with many of the songs driven by an insistent rhythmic bassline and Burgess's voice understated and earnest. The trademark Hammond organ patterns are woven into the fabric of each track and the result is quintessentially Mancunian in flavour. The band will be touring the album later in the year; dates include an appearance at the V festival.
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The band who originated the name "The Charlatans" were harbingers of the San Francisco underground. Formed in '64 by Mike Wilhelm (lyrics, guitar), George Hunter (autoharp, vocals), Michael Ferguson (Keyboards), Richard Olsen (bass) and Dan Hicks (drums and vocals) they developed a unique sound hybridizing folk, blues, jug band and R&B. Their turn-of-the-century Western image was even more distinctive; with their long hair, hats, watch chains, Victorian suits, and starched, high-collar shirts, they were every inch the saloon dandies, and by 1965 they were a striking and catalytic presence in the Bay area scene.
Despite their influential status, however, their recording career stalled quickly, maybe because they were never able to quite catch a hold on to the musical trends of their time and also being deliberately anachronistic in their appearance. Their haunting version of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Codine" was to have been their debut single for Kama Sutra in early '66. However mindful of the song's controversial subject matter, and much to the band's chagrin, the label opted instead for the tamer "The Shadow Knows". "Codine" did not see an official release until decades later.
Hicks found subsequent success with his band Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks, while Mike Wilhelm went on to play guitar with Flamin' Groovies.