AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #85 : ELBOW

A GUEST POSTING FROM S-WC

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Just two guys mucking around – 2016 – An ICA written Live.

So we went to the cricket again, it was uneventful. Somerset lost again. We have seen Somerset six times in the last year or so, they have never won, (four defeats, two rained off). I think we are close to getting banned for life for being such unlucky customers. Anyway, on the way up and on the way back we did our usual ‘11th song Write an ICA’ thing – we do this to liven up the journey up. Quite often it means sitting in the car park until track 10 finishes and we can find out what Track 11 is. Today is no different, but mercifully Track ten is quite short – the reason it has taken so long to get to track eleven is because track 8 and 9 were both long songs (Spacemen 3 and Mogwai respectively). Track Ten is a short punky blast from Eagulls. Track 11 is from miserable Northern dudes Elbow and the track is ‘Any Day Now’ from their fine debut album ‘Asleep at the Back’.

Now, to make things interesting – and to make my life easier (selfish I know) I have decided to do this ICA live – I literally have no say in what songs are picked. I have 47 Elbow songs on my ipod, they are in one playlist – and I will let the iPod choose the tracks via the shuffle and I will write about them as they come in. It will miss off some classics, but it will be varied at least – it also means we may avoid ‘A Day Like This’ which to be honest annoys the crap out of me. Not because it’s a bad song, but because for a while a few summers ago it was bleeding everywhere. I kind of lost a bit of love for Elbow around then.

The only say I have this ICA is the first track – and that was selected for me in the car park at Taunton.

Side One

Any Day Now – Taken from ‘Asleep at the Back’

One of the first songs by Elbow that I ever heard and in the Top Five of theirs. Most of the debut album is brilliant. The songs build into epic crescendos and is perhaps I think their most indie record. Its interesting to see how the band have developed over time, with more torch songs and anthems coming out. Instead of indie based tracks like this. I switch from which Elbow I prefer. Indie Elbow or Stadium Rock Elbow. Probably indie Elbow.

Some Riot – Taken from ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’

This is quite a dour track, quite slow, fairly miserable and rather brooding. It does have these meandering strings running through it. Tracks like this make you realise that largely Elbow always were a vehicle for the voice of Garvey with the music often playing second fiddle to it. The quiet bits nearly always lead to a soaring verse from Garvey. He’s good at that so it makes perfect sense I suppose.

Don’t Mix Your Drinks – Taken from ‘Asleep at the Back’

Another rather slow number that does largely what the track before does. It’s a song which laments mixing drinks as ‘it will kill you’. It’s a grower this one, it takes some time to build, it does that quietly Guy’s vocals are reduced to loud whisper and the music just trundles along nicely. Then just as it was getting going, it just stops. ‘Asleep at the Back’ really is a tremendous album guys.

Open Arms – Taken from ‘Build a Rocket Boys!’

I’ll be honest here, I didn’t like this album and if I had any choice in it, I wouldn’t have actually picked any tracks from it. ‘Open Arms’ is quite good though. You get a cheery old guitar chirping away through it and this other guitar and drum thing that sounds like a train chuffing away in the background. It’s another one of those Elbow songs that you can imagine done live, with (open) arms swaying together in harmony, whilst Garvey crouches down and sings to the crowd. Well sort of.

Powder Blue – Taken from ‘Asleep at the Back’

The third track selected from the debut album – that’s ok it is their best album. As it happens this would have been included should I have had a decision in the running order. I love this song. The piano in it is brilliant. it is this song that made me realise that Garvey is a wonderful singer – he has this knack of building a song to bursting point. Another example of this is ‘Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver’. As it goes this isn’t a bad ending to side one really, the building of this song into a small epic and then again like the ‘Don’t Mix Your Drinks’ it just stops only this time with the sound of smashing glass. Brilliant.

Side Two

The Night Will Always Win – taken from ‘Build A Rocket Boys!’

This starts for at least thirty seconds with a single piano note repeating over and over – which stays with the song pretty much through it. Garvey and the rest of the music comes in a bit later and there is great bass drum bit in – which comes in around 90 seconds, its deep and heavy but has just enough oomph to be heard. As it happens this is a lovely little song, again its largely about the voice of Mr Garvey with the music taking a backseat. Again. I’m beginning to understand why he released that solo album now.

An Imagined Affair – From ‘Leaders of the Free World’

The first track from this album to be selected but is one of Elbow’s finest moments, not just on this album but full stop. This has an acoustic guitar strumming away whilst Garvey sings about an anonymous female who ‘brings the morning’ and how he is ‘lost in the sound of her voice’. This is what Garvey does best if you ask me – the heavy whispery vocal over quaint little tunes in the background. It’s very lovely indeed.

Forget Myself – Taken from ‘Leaders of the Free World’

One of the few singles selected so far. This should have been a massive hit. It has pretty much everything. The chorus of this is another one of those occasions which you can imagine live. Lights up, strobes flashing, arms aloft here it comes…. ‘Lord I know I won’t forget you….’ It’s wonderful of course it is. This was I think the comeback single after the second Elbow album kind of flopped (an album that is missing from my ipod for some reason – does anyone elses ipod just randomly delete shit) and the band went away and sort of reinvented themselves as a band wanting to play stadiums with the tunes capable of filling them. Great song.

The Birds – Taken from ‘Build A Rocket Boys!’

An eight minute track. Back in the mid-1990s it was customary to end albums with long songs – this was done deliberately to put the cassette industry out of business. My ending an album on a long song, people were forced to waste around four minutes of their lives fast forwarding the end of Side One in order to get to the start of side two. It worked. Around three and a half minutes into to this, Elbow go a bit krautrock channelling their inner Can. That genuinely is the most interesting thing that happens in this track. Come on iPod you have one more song to pick, don’t ruin it now.

Coming Second – From ‘Asleep at the Back’

In which Elbow go slightly menacing. Right from the start, Garvey sounds like he is ready to kill you in this song. There is a string instrument running through it – (a cello perhaps?) that just plucks away like a clock ticking down to some ungodly event. Then around 1 minute 40 the guitar comes in and just accompanies that ticking noise. Then it all combines together to have a couple of minute finale, lots of whirling, screeching guitar and no Garvey – he’s probably gone for a lie down.

So that’s it. It did alright my iPod really, not a bad selection of tracks, I would have picked four of the ten should I have been less lazy. Badger has just told me he will do the same thing with his 11th track selection – that folks by the way without giving too much away was a brilliant band to be given. I offered him £10 to change – he declined.

Oh one last thing – in case you are wondering ‘Loneliness of a Tower Crane Drive’ was the 16th track out of 47 so would have been in Volume 2 if you like. ‘One Day Like This’ 41st.

Good iPod, nice iPod. Take the afternoon off.

S-WC

4 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #85 : ELBOW

  1. I have to admit to loving Elbow, though the last two albums left me a little cold. The Birds is probably the best track on both of them (though My Sad Captains comes very close). Those first four albums are brilliant though, even ‘Leaders Of The Free World’ which a lot of people tend to overlook. The title track would be on any Elbow ICA I put together.

    Guy’s solo album is worth checking out. Quite a lot of things on there that are quite clearly not Elbow songs. It’s good to know he has that in his locker.

  2. “miserable Northern dudes Elbow ”

    Tongue in cheek comment I’m hoping?
    A band that never fails to make me smile, one of the most uplifting acts out there, and the best live act around. Their lyrics are witty, charming and heartfelt.

    Obviously being a shuffle this will always raise eyebrows, but any Elbow compilation should start with Station Approach.
    Leaders is their finest album. A work of genius.

  3. Somerset going well in the 1-day Cup, though! Love Taunton and have very fond memories of seeing my team win the County Championship in the 90s. Great material, as ever, for eyes and ears. Cheers.

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