One of the reasons Damon Gough has turned to drink must be down to the fact that he has never come anywhere near to bettering his debut work. This album and the EPs that preceded it contain all his early folky musings when he didn't really care what anyone thought of him. It still sounds superb today and has a raggle taggle charm that was lost when he started seeing himself as a rock star. Whatever you think of him now, he still manages to perform this album live following the kind of drinking that would see lesser mortals take to their beds. Essential re-issue with loads of bonus tracks and 'kinky' leatherette sleeve.
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I have a story about Badly Drawn Boy that I can’t tell because I’ll probably get the person who told me it sacked. It’s such a shame as it’s a really good tale and truly exemplifies the current career status of the former golden boy of earnest British pop. The issue with Damon Gough is surely that his ever-present hat has not allowed the praise that he got from his first two albums to escape out of the top of his head and instead continues to churn around in there despite many years of diminishing returns. Add to that a whisky diet which allows incidents like his on-stage whine about getting paid ‘only’ 5K for rehashing some 20 year old material to happen all goes to make Gough into quite an unloveable character.
However, as his recent tour proved, there is still lots of love for him out there and it’s mainly due to the enduring quality of this debut LP. I remember when it came out being almost offended at its slapdash nature and odd sequencing but these are the very things that hold the album up in 2015. That and truly stellar songwriting. Tracks like ‘Once Around the Block‘, ‘Another Pearl‘ and the achingly melancholic and Love-like 'Stone in the Water' have an almost jazzy wistfulness combined with pop nous that make them true classics that you’ll keep going back to. It always stays on the right side of earnestness, tugging at the heartstrings with oodles of humour amongst the melancholy. the lovely folky melodies always understated, always affective. The production (by a myriad of collaborators including Andy Votel) strikes just the right balance - mid-fi if you will - ragged around the edges and not too polished. Songs fade in seemingly half way through, disappear just when you think they get going and re-appear backwards. All this keeps things fresh and on the edge enough so that you never lose interest. The strained vocals and country lilt of 'Pissing in the Wind' hint at the bad to come later but it's a rare mis-step on an album of such grace.
Add in a series of bonus tracks culled from the initial EPs when he was at his very best, this is a package to be reckoned with and will remind you in the first few track why it is regarded by many people as a classic. Like the humble long forgotten packet of cornflakes you’ll soon remember how good this tastes/sounds.
8/10 Penrith Steve Customer review, 20th February 2015
I liked this at the time of release but found that it was overplayed and couldn't really get out of its way thus getting bored and, at times, annoyed with it. Damon Gough is still one of this country's best songwriters, though, and this album is very good. It's original and varied which makes for an interesting listen. Opener, "The Shining" is beautiful. "Stone On The Water" has fooled many an indie kid into listening to a bit of folk without realising. "Another Pearl" is a nice piece of pop-rock and "Once Around The Block" is an equally fab and catchy song. "Disillusion" throws a bit of disco into the mix. Despite the seemingly disparate mix of styles on show, it is all tied together by Gough's own sound.
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