(True story – an over enthusiastic fan once rolled a cabbage across the stage as Teenage Fanclub played “The Cabbage” during a tour of Japan. Guess they didn’t get the heartbreaking translation of that particular tune.)
On the heels of a very successful Bandwagonesqe and a huge Saturday Night Live appearance Teenage Fanclub released Thirteen. It was rich with harmonies, had awesome songs, and Kurt Cobain was quoted as calling the Fannies the “Best Band in the World.” So with all that is it any surprise that in October 1993 the band that took in the award for Spin’s #1 Record of 1991 faced a backlash from critics. Thirteen wasn’t just disliked by rock writers, it was destroyed.
It didn’t make sense to me then, and in retrospect most critics have turned their opinion around to treat it more like a classic; one that I have always thought wasn’t just a great record, but ultimately stands of one of my favourite all time albums. It has the pop sensibilities of Big Star, the guitar effects of the “shoegaze” era and the driving bass of the 90’s alt rock period. It was a full package record that could be comical (“Commercial Alternative”) one moment and heartbreaking (“The Cabbage”) another.
So what are the vinyl options?
The original 1993 pressing was only done for audiences in the UK and Europe on standard black vinyl. Used copies can be found for around $30.00 dollars and up. Actually I saw an autographed copy for about a $100, but once you add shipping… well… it’s a little more than most of us would spend.
On the other hand, Thirteen was remastered and reissued in 2011 for US fans by Org Music. The first batch was 180 gram white vinyl while everything after was 180 gram black wax. So far I have yet to see any complaints about sound while trolling the internet audiophile sights. Prices start around $30 but some resellers are jacking prices up as availability has begun to dwindle.
Really, Teenage Fanclub created a body of work that is power-pop bliss and Thirteen is a perfect example of a genre defining record that really deserves more respect than it received. You really should give it a listen.