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The band were originally formed in the West Midlands by bassist Martin Blunt, who recruited fellow West Midlanders; Rob Collins (keyboards), Jon Brookes (drums), John Baker (also known as Day) (guitar) plus vocalist Baz Ketley, who was almost immediately replaced by Tim Burgess.
Former Electric Crayons singer Tim Burgess (from Northwich) replaced Ketley before the release of The Charlatans' debut single "Indian Rope" in 1990 on the band's own Dead Dead Good Records label. It proved an indie hit and the group soon found a major label, Beggars Banquet off-shoot Situation Two, in time for the release of "The Only One I Know" which reached the Top 10 in the UK singles chart.
A further single, "Then", and debut album Some Friendly, were released later that year, followed by the single "The Only One I Know" which led to great commercial and critical acclaim and is still regarded as an indie classic. Around this time The Charlatans were forced to add UK to their name for an American tour due to competing claims by a 1960s rock band also known as The Charlatans.
Baker left the band after 1991's "Over Rising" single to be replaced by Mark Collins (no relation to Rob), who made his debut on another non-album single, "Me. In Time".
The band brought in producer Flood for their second album Between 10th and 11th (named after the address of the New York Marque, site of the group's first U.S. gig) which failed to hit the top twenty in the UK. However, a double weekend of gigs ('Daytripper') in Blackpool and Brighton with Ride kept them in the public eye .