It's the year 2000, we're all still here, and my music tastes are maturing nicely. The gateway drugs of Travis, Stereophonics and Semisonic have been digested, saving me from a Westlife prison sentence, and now I'm looking for something stronger, something with more meaning. Flicking through the newspaper one wet day during the school hols I am drawn to an advert for 'The Hour of Bewilderbeast' by Badly Drawn Boy, a mysterious scruffy Northerner called Damon Gough. A one-man-band in a woolly hat. I buy the CD and listen to little else for weeks, drinking its rich details: the orchestral cabin-folk of 'The Shining'; 'Fall In The River', which sounds like it was recorded underwater; glam-pop gem 'Another Pearl'; 'Magic In The Air', in my opinion one of the most romantic songs ever written. So many different sounds, moods, and textures, woven and smudged together in a lo-fi way to create a disorientating and beautiful 60-minute journey. It's the first listening experience to make me understand the power of the ALBUM - a body of work rather than a collection of songs, something greater than the sum of its parts.
Since switching to vinyl five years ago, I've tried hard to resist re-buying things that I have on CD - I don't want to bankrupt myself and there's so much other music out there to discover. I had to make an exception for BDB's magical debut, however - it holds a very special place.