The Second British Invasion Music Series — The Brit Box, Disc 1, Track 13 “The Only One I Know,” by the Charlatans

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Stephen Thomas Erlewine at allmusic.com writes:

At the time of their formation in the West Midlands, in 1988, it appeared that the Charlatans were all about transience. Inspired by the emergence of the Stone Roses, Rob Collins (keyboards), Jon Baker (guitar), Martin Blunt (bass), and Jon Brookes (drums) formed the Charlatans, rehearsing with a variety of vocalists before Salford-born Tim Burgess joined as their singer, after the band’s relocation to Northwich, Cheshire. The group attempted to land a record contract with no success, so they formed Dead Dead Good Records and released their debut 12″ single, “Indian Rope,” in January 1990. Collins’ dynamic, sweeping Hammond organ distinguished the group from their Madchester scene peers, and the single became a number one hit on the indie charts. By the spring, they’d signed with Beggars Banquet, releasing “The Only One I Know” a few months later. Borrowing heavily from the Stones, jangle pop, and funk, “The Only One I Know” became a monster hit, climbing into the pop Top Ten and becoming the group’s signature single. Following another hit single, “Then,” the band’s debut album, Some Friendly, was released in the fall, debuting at number one.

Please follow the Erlewine link for an expanded and very informed rest of a detailed biography on the band.

In 1992, Rob Collins was arrested and convicted for being accessory to an armed robbery (wrong place, wrong time, per him) and was imprisoned in 1994. I only mention this because that conviction became a major barrier to the Charlatans touring in the U.S., which is why the band is much better known in other parts of the world than they are in the U.S.

Despite losing key members to tragedy (organist Rob Collins died in 1996 in a car accident; drummer Jon Brookes died in 2013 of a brain tumor) the band continues producing new music.

Another really interesting thing I pulled from the allmusic biography:

During [2020/covid lockdown], Burgess also conceived and popularized the notion of online listening parties. He began by marshaling a look back at Some Friendly in March 2020, and within 12 months he’d organized over 700 such events.

The Only One I know was released as a single on May 14, 1990, as one of two singles released from, “Some Friendly,” the debut album of the Charlatans. Interestingly (for me, at least, this may be standard practice for the music publishing industry?) the song was not included on the original vinyl album, “as it was the band’s wish to take only one single from each album,” and the single they chose for the vinyl release was the second single, “Then.”

I really like this tune and the others I’ve heard of the Charlatans.  This one’s intro sounds a lot like how U2’s, “Mysterious Ways,” starts in my opinion.

The only one I know
Has come to take me away
The only one I know
Is mine when she stitches me

The only one I see
Has found an aching in me
The only one I see
Has turned her tongue into me

Everyone has been burned before
Everybody knows the pain

The only one I know
Never cries, never opens her eyes
The only one I know
Wide awake and then she’s away

The only one I see
Is mine when she walks down our street
The only one I see
Has carved her way into me

Everyone has been burned before
Everybody knows the pain
Everyone has been burned before
Everybody knows the pain

Everyone has been burned before
Everybody knows the pain
Everyone has been burned before
Everybody knows the pain

Songwriters: Baker, Blunt, Brookes, Burgess, R. Collins

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Love that tune, Lisa! First time I heard it. In particular, I dig the keyboard and the bass line – a quite groovy and catchy tune that makes me curious to hear more from the Charlatans. Their name does sound vaguely familiar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Christian if you click that link higher up in the post you’ll see them do 2 songs live. I do think I had heard this one before but not sure where.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Lisa, these two tunes are great well. More of that seductive Hammond organ sound I dig so much! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    When you started these…I thought it was going to be big 80s Brit synth music…but it’s not…It’s some great power pop in most cases….I never heard of this one and love it. Like Christian I love the Hammond organ.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Max, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into either. So far they sound really good, like you said power pop. Hoping you find some you like to expand on further on your blog as I know that’s your area of interest. I love the Hammond organ also. It always adds so much texture to the music.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Yes I am going to post a few. I’ve fallen away from that at the moment because of time restraints but will be diving back into it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave says:

    It’s a great one, and one of those oddball songs that was very big in Toronto but nowhere else in n.America , I think so I know it well. But hadn’t heard it for some time, so it was a good reminder to give it a listen again! Didn’t know about the one dude being jailed… goes aways to explaining why they didn’t do better over here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Glad you know it well. What I read is he went with his friend to a convenience market not realizing the guy planned on robbing it! Talk about rotten luck 😦

      Like

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