Tag Archives: The Hour Of Bewilderbeast

Rocks In The Attic #871: Badly Drawn Boy – ‘Banana Skin Shoes’ (2020)

RITA#871I have to say I’m fairly impressed by Damon Gough’s new album. His early stuff was great, peaking for me with 2002’s About A Boy soundtrack, but then his (sometimes) dull approach to songwriting and his (always) self-reflective sixth-form lyrics started to get tiresome.

It’s nice to hear a fair bit of funk on this record, harking back to the Madchester groove of the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, particularly on the first two tracks – the title-song opener, and sure-fire single Is This A Dream?

The corny sixth-form poetry lyrics are still there, but it’s easier to forgive him for this when more thought has gone into the music. The arrangements on his Mercury award winning debut were stark in comparison, exposing the weakness of the lyrics. This one feels like more of a band effort. And it’s all the better for it.

RITA#871aI’m not sure what happened between About A Boy and this album. He disappeared off my radar, after a silly song I heard about remembering where he was when John Lennon died (more of that teenage poetry). The other unforgivable thing was releasing an album called Born In The UK; attracting unwelcome comparisons to Springsteen, when it was probably intended as a joke.

The album took a long, long time to get to me, ordered from the UK during the coronavirus lockdown and eventually arriving 12 weeks later. It’s a nice pressing on double yellow vinyl, stunning artwork on a beautiful gatefold and a huge poster with the lyrics on the reverse. I ordered a signed copy on standard black vinyl, but was grateful to receive an email from the label midway through lockdown: ‘We’re really sorry but Damon’s signed the yellow vinyl version of the album; hope that’s okay.” When I received it I was initially a little disappointed he hadn’t signed the front, instead opting to scrawl on his inner-gatefold portrait. On second thought, the signature works better there as it would have otherwise drawn attention away from that sublime cover artwork.

Gough’s two-dimensional lyrics do work for me on one particular song on the new record. Tony Wilson Said is a postcard to the late Manchester music mogul, name-checking various places in and around the city. It really made me feel a little homesick, although this might be due to me leaving Manchester twelve years ago. Would the lyrics sound a little crass if I still lived there?

Hit: Is This A Dream?

Hidden Gem: Banana Skin Shoes

RITA#871b

Rocks In The Attic #236: Badly Drawn Boy – ‘About A Boy (O.S.T.)’ (2002)

RITA#236I love this. I was a fan of Badly Drawn Boy before Damon Gough’s debut, The Hour Of Bewilderbeast came out, and when that album was eventually released – to much acclaim – I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t follow through on the promises made on his early EPs and singles.

I disliked Bewilderbeast so much when it came out that I started to lose interest (even though I still bought all the 7” and 10” singles that were released off that album).  I think I bought the soundtrack to About A Boy, his sophomore effort, to give him one last chance. I’m glad I made that decision, as this is a modern classic.

I remember reading in the music press about this album before its release. A lot was said of the similarities of this to Simon & Garfunkel’s soundtrack to The Graduate – but I always put that down to the fact that it’s simply a film soundtrack put together by acoustic-based folk musicians, nothing more and nothing less.

This soundtrack avoids the usual pitfalls because it’s essentially one artist’s voice. Sometimes soundtracks built around one particular artists will jar slightly if their material is then complimented by orchestral score or similarly unrelated instrumental and incidental music. Here, Badly Drawn Boy’s songs fit perfectly with the shorter instrumental pieces that he also created for the film. It therefore doesn’t sound like you’re listening to a soundtrack (in fact, some of the more disjointed, bizarre moments of The Hour of Bewilderbeast make that first album sound more like what you would expect from a film soundtrack).

I’m not sure why, but this was the last Badly Drawn Boy album that I bought. Even though I think it’s firmly the stronger of his first two albums, I then didn’t bother to check out album number three, or beyond. Perhaps I didn’t want to be disappointed as this promised so much.

Hit: Something To Talk About

Hidden Gem: A Peak You Reach

Rocks In The Attic #73: Badly Drawn Boy – ‘The Hour Of Bewilerbeast’ (2000)

Rocks In The Attic #73: Badly Drawn Boy - ‘The Hour Of Bewilerbeast’ (2000)I usually remove stickers from the cover of records. Most of the time it’s easy – especially if it’s a brand-new record – but sometimes it can cause more damage than keeping it on there. I’ve brought many records home from second-hand vinyl shops, and tried to remove a sticker that’s probably been on the cover for 15 or 20 years, only to pull off a huge chunk of the cover in the process.

There is a sticker on the front cover of my vinyl copy of this album that I’ve left on there. It is a HMV sticker, and alongside the price (£9.99) and the barcode, is my name in block capitals (MR J ANDREWS), the phone number of my parents’ house, and the date of sale (19/07/00).

This was given to me as a birthday gift by the lead singer in the band I was playing in at the time, and he had to order it into HMV Oldham, as they didn’t usually stock vinyl, hence the sticker.

I have to say I was pretty let down by this album. There was a lot of buzz around Badly Drawn Boy at the time, and I already had one of his early EPs – EP3, I think. This album was set to be an instant masterpiece, but it’s very disjointed. Later, Damon Gough said that he panicked when he got into the studio, and recorded a load of bits and pieces he didn’t plan. It sounds like it. I’d take those first three EPs – plus the It Came From The Ground single – over this album any day.

Hit: Once Around The Block

Hidden Gem: Disillusion