Saturday, 8 December 2012

Albums for Life: 85: Bjork: Debut

In the late 80s I remember Mark Fox, my then A&R man at Zomba publishing, giving me cassettes with demos from bands that he wondered about signing. For some reason he trusted my ear. One memorable cassette had songs from Wet Wet Wet, an early take on Deacon Blue's 'Dignity', 'Chase the Fox' from John Shuttleworth (Jilted John) and the original demo for what would become (for a while) the fastest selling single of all time for Whitney Huston, 'I Want to Dance With Somebody'.
He turned them all away; nowt to do with me I might add.
And then there was 'Birthday', a song from an Icelandic band called The Sugar Cubes. It was the singer that caught the ear; a yelping confusion of joy and sorrow; the voice of a euphoric and slightly dizzy alien...
All of those qualities were later captured perfectly by producer Nellee Hooper in 1993 on her first solo album, the imaginatively titled 'Debut'Brimming with emotion and singing from a different prayer book than the rest of us, Bjork did indeed seem to have come from a different planet. It's a hothouse of emotional intensity, stylings akimbo and housed in 'Electronica' and 'House' vibes, the calming beats and quirky samples provided the perfect background for her unsettlingly beautiful songs. The diversity of musical templates were all drawn into a unified whole by the clarity and focus of Bjork's intense delivery, a voice that skips unerringly between tender and terrifying. The effect is unsettling, yet... strangely calming and utterly charming. I think it's that contradiction that made the album so compelling. I put this on the other day and thought it was a greatest hits collection, so dense and memorable is the quality of the piece.
Her videos were pretty 'otherworldly' too...


  1. Didnt really like he sugarcubes so came late to debut as teh singles started to mount up - agree somehow manages to me relaxing and disturbing at the same time!

  2. I loved the shock of The Sugarcubes at first, particularly Birthday and Motorcrash which I had on a number of mix tapes. I always liked Bjork but never really got into her albums in a big way. Don't know why. I have this one though. The songs are great.