The Vinyl Al­bum Box Set

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - BRIAN BOYD

Fric­tion It took un­til 2008 for El­bow to break through with the Mer­cury-win­ning Sel­dom Seen

Kid, but the band was al­most at the veteran stage by then, hav­ing be­gun their record­ing ca­reer seven years ear­lier. This beau­ti­fully pre­sented vinyl al­bum box set – which also con­tains a USB stick con­tain­ing all the mu­sic – features all five stu­dio al­bums on heavy­weight vinyl as well as the B-sides al­bum, Dead in

the Boot, and the Live at Abbey Road al­bum. It’s the ear­lier work that grabs the at­ten­tion here.

Asleep in the Back from 2001 is still one of their best works – un­der­stated and ele­giac but re­plete with all their early Ge­n­e­sis crossed with Ra­dio­head in­flu­ences. Any Day Now cap­tures them at their in­choate best.

Cast of Thou­sands sees them set­tling into a newer, more ex­pan­sive sound. More widescreen than be­fore, the ar­range­ments are more com­plex, with Switch­ing Off and Whis­per Grass par­tic­u­lar high­lights. But the stand­out here re­mains Grace Un­der Pres­sure, which comes com­plete with a live choir recorded at the Glas­ton­bury fes­ti­val.

Lead­ers of the Free World is a more mixed af­fair, but the sin­gle For­get My­self is one of their most nu­anced re­leases. All changed with The Sel­dom

Seen Kid, with Grounds for Di­vorce pro­vid­ing them with their first hit. The ti­tle track

Star­lings is po­tent and dra­matic, while One Day Like This shows a band in their stride hit­ting the peaks. The fol­low-up, Build a

Rocket Boys!, con­tains their best song­writ­ing with Lippy Kids and Je­sus Is a Rochdale Girl be­ing el­e­gantly sub­lime, while The Night Will Al­ways

Win is ar­guably their finest ever moment.

El­bow have the depth in qual­ity and there is much to ad­mire on the Dead in the Boot col­lec­tion. As a doc­u­ment of how a band de­velop their sound and style, this box set works very well. From early be­gin­nings to arena size success, the whole jour­ney here is mapped out and the scenic route is taken. Very im­pres­sive in scope and vi­sion. el­bow.co.uk

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