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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing
Disturbing, but not in a bad way! This is one of my favourite albums of 2001. At times Guy Garvey sings like Peter Gabriel, at others the record has echoes of Bowie or Japan. These are influences, you understand, not copied motifs.
The softness of the music hides an unsettling edge. This isn't merely another album of melancholic northern music, this is an album that...
Published on 6 Nov 2002 by Amazon Customer

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3.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT
An early album which isn't one of their best, but it is pleasing if you like Elbow. The songs are good and the quality is great. They are a brilliant band.
Published on 19 July 2011 by Moonshine.


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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, 6 Nov 2002
This review is from: Asleep in the Back (Audio CD)
Disturbing, but not in a bad way! This is one of my favourite albums of 2001. At times Guy Garvey sings like Peter Gabriel, at others the record has echoes of Bowie or Japan. These are influences, you understand, not copied motifs.
The softness of the music hides an unsettling edge. This isn't merely another album of melancholic northern music, this is an album that doesn't quite let you lie back on the sofa and drift. It doesn't quite let you use it as musical wallpaper. There's something deeper there that keeps you on your toes, waiting.
I bought it because I like bands like Doves and artists like Badly Drawn Boy. Elbow are somehow different. If Doves are your mate, Elbow are like their more intense older brother - the one you're a little bit scared of but you want to be liked by. You know they're related, but somewhere the gene pool got whisked around a bit.
This album makes me think of wrapping up in a big thick jumper, sitting on a beach by a fire, talking to someone who has big ideas and the ability to make you dream on the same scale.
The addition of Asleep In The Back on the updated version is a blessing. If you have been tempted by either Newborn or Asleep In The Back, take the plunge and buy this album. You will thank yourself for the rest of your life.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debut of the highest quality, 30 Nov 2002
This review is from: Asleep in the Back (Audio CD)
"Any day now, How's about getting out of this place? Anyways, Got a lot of spare time, Some of my youth, And all of my senses on overdrive" So goes the incredibly addictive refrain of Asleep in the Back's opening track Any Day Now. Yes, it's proggy and more than a little murky, but as with all the songs on this album, the longing heart shines through. This must in main be put down to Guy Garvey's superlative voice. Quite simply no-one can currently match him. Avoiding the histrionics of Starsailor's James Walsh, his voice is never less than warm and inviting, whatever he's singing, even the naked opening lines to Newborn, the album's highlight: "I'll be the corpse in your bathtub, Useless".
The contribution by Garvey's fellow musicians can not be understated. Whereas most bands now rip open the Beatles songbook for a riff, randomly hit the top string of the bass, and feel they have a song, Elbow carefully construct layered masterpieces. Nothing is out of place. The counterpoint backing melodies are superb. Pretty, picked acoustic guitars form the background to every song. Jupp's drumming is nothing less than a revelation. This is pretensionless prog, which before now seemed something of a contradiction in terms.
Comparisons with Radiohead are frankly bizarre. Kid A is the only thing that comes remotely close to it. And even then, Kid A is mostly harsh, often alienating music, far from the tender beauty of Elbow. On the quieter songs Elbow sound like a slightly more inventive Coldplay, which is a complement that serves them no justice whatsoever. The singles in Britain were impeccably chosen: Red, the gorgeous Powder Blue (complete with sad, lonely saxophone) and Newborn are the most accessible songs on the album, and highlight the power and fragility which colours all of this work. They pave the way for more rumbling, almost tribal hymns like Any Day Now, Little Beast and Bitten by the Tailfly, which has a stinging, electrified guitar burst which is possibly the most exciting moment of any album released this year. The bonus track which was not originally included on the first pressing of the album is confusingly also titled Asleep in the Back. It is a gentle, sighing waltz, and a gratefully received addition.
My favourite moment? On Coming Second, Garvey's words tumble down the melody and cry out with just a hint of bitterness and incredulity "Best dishevelled lover 3 years running, Coming second to, A picket fence white, nine to five, Who's just alive".
It is one of several heart-stopping moments on an album that lingers in the memory long after it has been played.
Guy Garvey is a new, original lyricist with the voice of the decade, backed by a new, exciting band. They deserve to take all before them.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wake Up to 'Asleep in the Back', 26 Sep 2001
This review is from: Asleep in the Back (Audio CD)
Run through with desperate beauty and dark, haunting imagination, this album stands head and shoulders above nearly everything I've heard in the last three years or so.
This album is no bag of laughs: effortlessly alternating menace with melancholy, it has an artful sense of hopelessness. Sad and beautiful vocals are hung out to dry against a backdrop of expansive piano and string chords, undercooked, trippy snare & cymbal beats, and all manner of other subtle musical curios and unflinching Hammond organ. There are voices from the shadows (or, perhaps, from the dark recesses of your mind) giving way to sharp, low-fi bursts of punky guitar, and desperate mantras set to thrumming and mildly industrial rhythms.
Garvey has a beautiful singing voice, like that of a lost soul or a fallen angel, and is brilliantly supported by the rest of the band, whose mastery of their craft is evident throughout. Though there are plenty of other good bands out there, what sets Elbow apart is their inspired, dark inventiveness and musical vision. Where The Bends, Blue Lines and Dummy set the standards for the 90s, Asleep in the Back has done the same for our present decade.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark yet blissful masterpiece., 9 April 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Asleep in the Back (Audio CD)
New to Elbow, I bought this album after reading the good reviews on Amazon. I was not disappointed.
Garvey's haunting voice & intelligent lyrics fusing with the dark baselines & haunting, yet blissful, melodies let the listener melt in melancholic bliss.
Like their comparatives: Radiohead - the production is outstanding. Elbow don't settle for a drum beat guitar & a vocal. Open your ears & let in the weird & wonderful sounds which brood away in the background.
Asleep in the back, like all good albums, takes a few listens to fully appreciate. The tone at first seems dark. However after a few listens it all starts to make sense. After more listening I found myself sitting back in ecstatic bliss.
I'm unwilling to name outstanding tracks, because to fully appreciate Asleep in the back, you need to listen from start to finish. All the tracks are beautiful.
If you like intelligent, edgy & thought provoking music - buy this.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly outstanding debut album, 30 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Asleep in the Back (Audio CD)
By their own admission, Elbow are "prog-rock without the solos" and many others have labelled them as "Doves 2001" - but as this debut proves, they are so much more. "Asleep In The Back" is based around lead singer Guy's distinct genuine hold to every song on it - his honesty and his humble desire to portray the trials and tribulations of himself and his band turns this album into a very real treat. The singles give a good impression of what to expect on the LP - "New Born" with its fragile beauty, "Any Day Now" with its dark melancholy, and "Red" as a brilliantly structured song both lyrically and musically. However, the clear album highlight "Powder Blue" is all these and more and a strong contender for song of the year. "Asleep In The Back" falls nothing short of reminding us that there's still a place in this nu-metal obsessed world for acoustic music with heart-breakingly down-to-earth lyrics. Little surprise really, with musicians as crafted and experienced as Elbow, anything less would be a disappointment. An absolute pleasure to listen to from start to finish.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, dreamy and a tad mournful, 7 April 2002
This review is from: Asleep in the Back (Audio CD)
Being a fan of all things Joy Division and New Order back in the day,this is the only album I've heard that gets anywhere close to capturing the essence of those great bands. Elbow don't however set out to simply create a tribute band album. Far from it ! This is a work of "dark beauty" my lovelies..... Thank gawd they are miles away from the swaggering tedium of other Manchester mop tops and create there own sound which although it can be a bit on the proggy side never fails to deliver that all important shiver + lump in the throat. Last track is an Opus! and the rest never drop below the 5 star rating. Check the cracking guitar breaks and chanting on a few of the tracks-remind me a bit of classic Wire on Chairs Missing....all staccato menace. All in all an original masterpiece that adds something fresh and original to the Manchester sceme.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars expertly done debut, 17 July 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Asleep in the Back (Audio CD)
It's been said before but...that voice. that voice. such an incredible range, yet even at the top registers, Guy Garvey never loses his God-given northern grit. It's surreal, and very satisfying.
For a debut album, this is very assured - it seems even more fully formed than the similarly splendiforous follow up, Cast of Thousand (though, thankfully, they hadn't acquired the budget for a gospel choir at this stage). lunging right into the epic, moody lead single, 'Any Day Now', with its insistent drum loop and intimate overdubbed vocals, and following it with the melancholic, string-led 'Red', the album mixes timbres, instruments and moods to create a most impressive art-rock album without once descending into pomposity.
Standout song of the album is definitely 'Newborn' - the latter half of this 7 minute epic is quite simply one of the most beautiful climaxes to hit british rock since Loveless. elsewhere, the title track (not on all versions, but apparently on this one) is an old fashioned acoustic folk song in the vein of Belle & Sebastian's jauntier moments, and its horn section elevates it to transcendence.
all in all, worth a few quid of anyone's cash.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 2 April 2010
By 
Mr. T. Dale (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Asleep in the Back (Audio CD)
Isn't it funny how you turn to miserable and morose music when your self-belief starts to dip? Elbow are the type of band to sit you down and instead of telling you to pull yourself together, will pour their collective hearts out, putting your piffling self pity into some kind of context by measuring it against their epic despair. Guy Garvey's tender and sometimes powerful vocals hold up well throughout to demonstrate this, as well as a standard of lyricism which to my mind would be difficult to match.

This is a beautiful album from start to finish, and represents much of the band's finest work. If you are more familiar with the Seldom Seen Kid, this album is more in the style of say, "Friend of Ours" or "Some Riot". It's highlights are undoubtedly "Powder Blue", one of the finest heartfelt songs I own, "Any Day Now" for the monotonous image it portrays, "New Born" as an example of episodic rock, the dirty "Bitten by the Tailfly", and also "Scattered Black and Whites" for its ability to conclude the album almost perfectly.

You'll be a better person for your ability to enjoy this album. It takes you on a journey which is tinged with melancholy and nostalgia, and I'm sure I'm not alone in finding this record creeping into my heart and keeping a firm hold. A quite remarkable debut which comes close to genius at times.

8.8/10
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for beginners!, 5 Mar 2009
By 
Peter Lee (Manchester ,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Asleep in the Back (Audio CD)
At last, the world knows just how good the music of Elbow can be. This, their debut, is a superb album but really shouldn't be approached by those who only know "Grounds For Divorce" and "One Day Like This". Many of the songs here sound dark, sinister, and sometimes quite atonal - especially the likes of the opening track "Any Day Now". In fact, many of the songs here sound like a completely different band to the one we know and love.

There are some true wonders to be found here: "New Born", "Scattered Black and Whites", "Red", "Powder Blue", "Asleep In The Back" and "Coming Second" are all absolutely excellent, at least two of those still being regularly played by the band to this day. It takes time to work its magic, but when it does you realise that Elbow have been brilliant all along. Thankfully, their time has come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The new The Smiths?, 14 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Asleep in the Back (Audio CD)
After hearing all the hype from the music press I had to take a listen to this album by new band from Bury, Elbow. There are traces of influence from the mid 80's mellow melochanolical and somber scene, but Elbow have pushed themeslves onwards. This album is an example of how music should be treated - With tender care, a lot of time and beautifully crafted. If Elbow ever go on to better this debut then they will be modern legends in their own right. I could drown in my wirlpool of tears. I could sleep and dream of bright colours. I could cry and still feel satisfactory happy. Asleep In The Back is the best record I have heard this year. It could grow and become the greatest record since Radiohead's multi-million selling smash OK Computer.
Elbow seem to have that talent of making depressive records and yet coming out the other side with a grinning smile of content happiness and joy. The affect it had on me: It made every bad thing seem ok and it made the good things seem even better.
Elbow are the new The Smiths and it's about time.
Review by: The King Of George's Castle.
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