Simpatico finds The Charlatans UK returning to the sound that made them UK chart toppers and festival headliners for many years, proving once again that they are still a vital force. No longer using his falsetto, lead singer Tim Burgess is in fine form as he continues to find the sweet spot where Dylan-inspired diatribes meet unstoppably contagious melodies – both obsess him. These days he happens to also be obsessed with reggae. First heard on Burgess’ excellent and overlooked solo record from last year, on which he covered Bob Marley’s “Who The Cap Fits,” Simpatico. boasts a number of great blue-eyed reggae tunes, all of them wonderfully upbeat and hummable.
The Charlatans UK took the music world by storm in 1989 with their independently released debut single, ”Indian Rope,” and instantly started the ride to massive pop stardom in their country. The follow-up single, “The Only One I Know,” was beyond infectious, defined the times and raised the band’s star even higher. Charting at #1 in the UK, The Charlatans UK released their first LP, Some Friendly, in the US in 1990. Catapulted by “The Only One I Know,” the record sold upwards of 300,000 records and got them the cover of Rolling Stone. The rest of their story is one of momentous triumphs and dark tragedy.
In 1992, while in the process of making the band’s excellent third record, Up to Our Hips, keyboardist Rob Collins was imprisoned for eight months for the role he played as the getaway driver in an armed robbery. While critically acclaimed, Up to Our Hips did not do as well as expected, but their next record, self titled, debuted in the UK charts at #1, and saw the band headlining festivals across Europe. In 1996, during the recording sessions for the massive follow-up, Tellin’ Stories, Collins was killed in a car accident. The stricken band decided to continue and a month later the single “One to Another” became their biggest UK hit to date. Keyboardist Martin Duffy of Primal Scream stepped in to help finish the album and Tellin’ Stories debuted at #1. Once again huge international touring ensued. Tony Rogers was soon recruited as full-time keyboard player as Burgess moved to Los Angeles. Since then the band have released a series of successful albums.
To make the new record, the band took themselves out of their comfort zone by deciding to work with a new producer (Jim Lowe) away from their own studio. They hung up pictures of Gram Parsons and Joe Strummer and recorded at breakneck speed. On the making of Simpatico., Burgess says: “"Basically we wanted to record the album quite quickly and get freshness about it. I think everyone dived straight in and it was all guns blazing.” Says bassist Martin Blunt: "The different environment ensured there were no distractions and Jim Lowe impressed us…he was a fan of the band and we thought, ‘great, we'll try him out.’ Sometimes you can get too precious, but with this it was different."