I’m going to squeeze out one quick post this evening, before the witching hour whisks us into tomorrow. It’s an oldie called “The Only One I Know” from Britain’s longtime psychedelic rock outfit The Charlatans. Since there are many shades of psychedelia in this day and age, I’m going to clarify this track as one of the original paisley pop gems from the 1990’s Manchester scene, or as some prefer to call it, Madchester.
Essentially, that’s a movement that occurred in the late-’80s – early ’90s, with its epicenter focused on Manchester, England. Here, a slew of young raw indie talent gathered to revive the psychedelic experience. Such bands as The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, and tonight’s offering The Charlatans were all part of it, fusing ’60s pop and rock, the emerging acid house beats, old-school funk and disco, and a lot of MDMA.
“The Only One I Know” is a spot-on example of this. It trips and slides in a kaleidoscopic blast of purified psychedelia, riffing and rolling with an organ-propelled shuffle of percussive blissful vibes. It feels like it could’ve come from the ’60s, or at the very least, hallucinated out of the era and into a tangibly hip harmonic groove. And Tim Burgess’ soft breezy vocals just coast right through the driving Hammond keys and jangling guitars, keeping the mood retro, chill, and cool.
This track still remains one of The Charlatans most beloved hits, even as it approaches its third decade. And at its most vintage, it still feels timely and relevant. It doesn’t quite have the edge of contemporary psychedelia, as festivals like Desert Daze have shown us. But it doesn’t need it. It’s a pure distillation of ’60s pop, rolled into a danceable rhythm that’s just as hip, yet with a smoother ride. And it doesn’t need the trippiness, because the song itself is the trip.
Give a listen to The Charlatans’ “The Only One I Know,” and see how your flashback to their flashback rolls on your ears. I can’t guarantee trails. But you just might feel a bit of the era in all its aural ecstasy … or at least, one hopes. Enjoy!
“The Only One I Know” from the 1990 album “Some Friendly.”
Keeping things vintage, here’s The Charlatans’ original music video for “The Only One I Know.” It’s not quite the paisley flower-power psych-out it could be, but it’s a worthwhile window into the era, nonetheless. And wow, they look young.
Lastly, and for good measure, here’s a vintage live recording of The Charlatans performing “The Only One I Know” at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, way back on 11.15.15.
The Charlatans perform “The Only One I Know” at the Fonda Theatre on 11.15.15.