Monday, 18 March 2013

Albums for Life: 35: David Gray: White Ladder

"I still pinch myself when I think about it. That record will be there for ever. It just connected in such a big way with people. It was the period that came after that was difficult. I'm sort of seen as a pop artist. I'm dismissed as slight, I'd say, because of White Ladder."

There goes my credibility, but, hey, you can't deny your past.
My feeling is that this will get Seamus over on Vapour Trails gagging; I suspect that his dinner parties have a different soundtrack.
I brought Gray's debut, when he was heralded as 'the new Dylan'.
He got louder and angrier and I lost interest.

Then came this; his 4th attempt, apparently his last shot.
Recorded in 1998, self financed.
It went stellar, it was everywhere.
I lost interest again.
And then Di put it on a few months ago and it all came flooding back, all of the parties and nights out that this backdropped; yup, even the odd dinner party.
So, this then is like my 'disco' album.
It's on the list, not beloved, but much appreciated, like the shoes that walked me through the odd dark alley.
Here's a live version of 'Babylon'.
Anyone recognize the guitarist to his right?


  1. Babylon is worth the price of admission alone.

  2. Agreed Nick, I got too close to actually hear this. Time and distance makes me feel quite connected to it; even 'Last Years' Love' which I would have put in a bag and thrown in the Thames 10 years ago...
    Music eh?

  3. Great choice Bro' - would have to list in my Top 100 too, although 'Sell, sell, sell' still remains my top DG album.

    'Shine' is still my favourite song by a mile though; perhaps a little predictable, but love the lyrics, including "your soul is the one thing you can't compromise" which has become my motto for life. Thanks for sharing. x

    1. I'm surprised that you've got any hearing left after the weekend's F1 in Melbourne.
      Was starting to question your musical judgement after seeing you cuddling Jimmy Barnes...
      I like that line too btw; sure that it's a tattoo somewhere on your butt?

  4. I love This year's Love ! I'd be fishing it out the thames.
    I've got all his early stuff which I think is a bit patchy - apparently his wife told him to stop singing in that silly accent when he was making White Ladder thus the toned down vowels. The other one I really like is Life in Slow Motion where he goes for a fuller / bigger sound. Saw him also on one of those sky arts meet the songwriter things - he was very honest and gave a great interview despite having the worst eye contact I've ever seen ( he managed to avoid looking at the interviewer for the whole hour!)

  5. I've got one of them pegged as Neil Mc but not the other.

  6. I think that he forgot himself with "used to be so... difficulTTTT"...
    I think I saw the songwriter thing; with the guy who looks like Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons and earnestly asks everyone what their favourite color is? Sorry to be cynical but that show is a good opportunity missed. 'From the Basement' is good on the same channel. Seen it? There's a great one with First Aid Kit (with our Melvin playing pedal steel) and a better one with Feist which is awesome; watch to the end song; amazing...

  7. Hi Trevor, Mr Gray is so enormously popular in Ireland (This is the biggest selling album EVER in Ireland) that to speak out to loudly against him could be considered dangerous. I saw him in his Dylan phase and found myself non-plussed despite some evangelical friends who were involved in bringing him over for gigs in Ireland. Probably prefer this if the truth be told. Filed alongside Chris Rea as someone who was big in Ireland for years before having success at home. This album had two lives, once when initially released and a couple of years later when it had another life after finding success in the UK. It seemed to be in the charts for ever.
    Ubiquitous is the thesaurus word of the day for Mr Gray.

  8. How does Damien Rice fare there? I met Lisa Hannigan in the summer; did a show with her in Denmark. She was a stunning performer but seemed reluctant to discuss anyone but Joe Henry. She obviously has good taste but... I wondered how you treat your cult/icons over there...
    The Frames? Hot House Flowers? Padey Casey? Christy Moore & brother Luka? Chris De (feckin') Burgh? I really like the boy Declan O'Rourke whose 'GALILEO (SOMEONE LIKE YOU)' is sublime.
    Is he still there?

  9. We probably have pretty loyal audiences. It used to be said that you had to make it elsewhere before making it at home but that's no longer the case. I'm not the best person to report on the current state of things as I live a fairly hermetic life in the country, rarely if ever venturing out!
    Christy is one of the biggest stars in the firmament. Planxty have been described as the trad Beatles and all ex members are pretty much sainted, but Christy is a special case even in that company. Luka is quite a bit less well known but having been around since the early eighties has built a bit of an audience..
    The Frames have a hugely loyal audience but I can't say much having never been a fan.
    The Flowers - well they still have pretty high profiles. (They used to be a killer covers band when they started out)
    I hear Declan O'Rourke on the radio regularly so he clearly has an audience.
    And yes Damien Rice does ok.
    Chris de Burgh? Is he the guy who's daughter won Miss World and has now started doing Playboy? The fellow who had the affair with his babysitter?
    My personal cult icons fare less well - The Blades, Stars of Heaven, A House, Luggage - although The Blades & A House would probably clean up if they reformed. And the Irish public, somehow, seem to have forgotten me totally. What's that? - they'd have to know me in the first place in order to forget me. Semantics.