Scottish beat group in the indie mould, one of the most consistently creative, interesting and melodic British beat groups of the 1990s. Their earliest records (like the 1990 LP
'A Catholic Education') are strong on grunge/rock guitar noise (cf. Dinosaur Jr
), but the potential offensiveness of this is generally undercut by a sense of humour and fun (early albums include several noisy instrumentals, all called 'Heavy Metal', tongue firmly in cheek). Their lyrical and melodic abilities became increasingly evident on subsequent albums, notably 'Bandwagonesque' (1991), 'Grand Prix' (1995), and 'Songs From Northern Britain' (1997). The Fannies are also notable for giving good value on the B-sides of their single releases, mixing superlative versions of songs by their own heroes such as Alex Chilton
, John Fogerty
, Neil Innes
, Lou Reed
with demos and home recordings of their own. A single particularly worth seeking out is 'Ain't That Enough': look for the track 'Broken'.
Latterly they have been much less prolific, succumbing perhaps to the Brian Wilson tendency of spending too long achieving recorded perfection in the studio, and their live performances have been few and far between, which is a shame because at their best they are one of the most entertaining live bands you could hope to see. There are no official live recordings of the Fannies, but you can get a flavour of what a tight and punchy live band they are in the excellent recordings they made as backing-group to Frank Black (ex-The Pixies) for John Peel's BBC radio show. If only Paul McCartney had had the sense to hire the Fannies to back him on his recent recordings, rather than David Gilmour and other superannuated rockers, perhaps he might really have succeeded in recapturing some of the vigour of his own better days.