The Vinyl Album Box SetFriction ****
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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