on 23 February 2006
Dark, murky and oddly depressing but still celebratory - my initial reaction to "Down In Albion" was it sounded like a damp squib. Or, at the very least, a bit of a mis-fire. Too many drugs, late nights and missed tours had finally fried Pete Doherty's brain and his song writing talent had withered away. Mick Jones' pots and pans production had also failed to add the usual character.
Of course, some six spins later (a few on headphones) and I'm foaming at the mouth as much as I did when I finally, and belatedly, realised "Up The Bracket" was a storming album. I'm always slow on the uptake. Much like with his previous band, Doherty's music here didn't initially sound all that great to me. Still, once again, the point is soon proven.
Anyone with a hankering for a bit of old style rock and roll would be foolish to dismiss this album. Uncompromising and with a particularly destructive attitude, it lurches and rolls around on the floor as much as Doherty does on stage. Jones' production maintains that brittle 'first-take' feel, so yes - it sounds incredibly sloppy at times; but when was rock meant to sound polished? After the rise of The White Stripes suddenly garage bands ruled o.k, which was fine and dandy - but few actually had the songs to match their stripped down production. On this score, Doherty is laughing. There is ample content behind all the style.
So, panned by most critics on it's original release I think time will judge this record otherwise, because it's fabulous. Barrat's Dirty Pretty Things have one hell of an act to follow.
on 7 January 2006
After purchasing the two Libertines albums a few weeks back (I didn't really get into them when they were around) I decided to check out Babyshambles on iTunes. When I first previewed them I thought I should probably check the whole album out, and I'm glad I did, it is actually very good, despite all the criticism from idiot reviewers who listen to the album once and hate it.
The stand out tracks for me are: La Belle et La Bete, why does nobody else like this track? It has an amazingly cool opening, one of my favourites up there with Franz Ferdinand's 'Michael', Clapton's 'Layla' and The Libertines 'Vertigo'. 'A'Rebours' is just an amazing track and tieing(???) with La Belle et La Bete as my favourite track. '32nd of December' is pure genius and really shows what Doherty can do. I realise I have mentioned the first 4 tracks so I'll move a little further down the list, oh no, 'Pipedown' the 5th track has a really catchy tune as does 'Killamangiro', a really good air guitar song. 'Pentonville' so out of character for Doherty it's genius, and 'Albion' has such incredible lyrics it's slightly unreal. Considering I have only listened to the album three times and it usually takes me a bit longer to absorb all the tracks, and there's alot of them, especially for a debut album those so far have been the stand out tracks, I was however slightly disappointed with 'What Katy Did Next' thinking it would be a real follow on from 'What Katie Did' on 'The Libertines', you know, same sort of tune etc. but I'm sure it will grow on me as I listen to it more.
Overall, the album is better than I expected but will not be for every 'Indie' lovers taste, my friend really likes this sort of music but doesn't like the Babyshambles so, there you go.
In my eyes, and ears, Mr. Pete Doherty can do no, or very little wrong. I have always maintained that his personal life and habits should never have eclipsed his talents in the mind of the public, but it has, and that couldn't be more wrong. I've always enjoyed Peter work, the man sure knows how to pen a classic tune, and deliver it in his own instantly recognisable way. 'Down in Albion', his first album with his second band Babyshambles is a solid debut. It contains some absolute gems, and in my opinion, is even superior to his work with the The Libertines, because it offers up a lot more range and variety, from up-tempo rockers to lush, acoustic ballads.
By enlisting the talents of The Clash's frontman Mick Jones as producer, the album naturally has a superb, late-1970s punk sound. The indie-anthem 'F**k Forever' is a classic Pete song, and other highlights were ensured with the catchy-as-hell and mellow hit single 'Albion', an observational portrait of English life, with some of the finest lyrics you're likely to hear, and the beautiful 'La Belle et la Bête', with his then girlfriend, the supermodel Kate Moss on guest vocals.
Pete Doherty is an unique and complex man, and this comes over in his wonderful music. His voice and songs are just crying out to be heard by lovers of good indie, so please buy this excellent debut from the Babyshambles. As soon as you start playing 'Down in Albion', I'm sure you'll thank me for the big recommendation.
on 5 December 2005
Its hard to review this first full relase from Babyshambles. There are some fantastic tracks which show what a great artist Pete Doherty could be. Stand out tracks F__ Forever, Albion and Killamanjiro are excellent and shopw what a song writer he is, but unfortunately there is also a lot of filler and for me the album just does not work as a whole. Still a great listen, but far from being a classic. It does point to something great to the future if the band can retain some focus.
You get the feeling listening to 'Down In Albion' that it symbolises Pete Docherty's very own 'two fingers' moment to the world and the listening public.
Let's be brutally honest here, Docherty can't sing for toffee and most of his songs are lazily arranged, rambling, shambolic affairs but I guess given his chosen band name and the messy, disorgainsed album art work and scrawled booklet that is the point.
Snag is Pete old fruit there is pretty much ZERO point in writing good lyrics if you present your songs in such away as that making out what the hell you are saying/singing is impossible in places. All that achieves is pretty much what we have here - a fractured mess of POTENTIALLY good ideas with SOME great lyrics and the OCCASIONAL hint of a memorable melody.
'Hiding' behind incoherent ranting, masking a lack of inspiration behind a 'quirky melody' and trying to pull the wool over our eyes by giving the impression that you have done all that deliberately as part of 'your art' may fool some but I am far from convinced.
These seemingly harsh criticisms aside, I DO get the feeling from the scraps I can pick out here that if choosing to say what he really wants to say in a way he will be understood by all Docherty MIGHT just be the talented songwriter with 'plenty relevant to say' that he is working hard to disguise here.
on 15 March 2007
Babyshambles' debut release was destined to cause controversy; even the very mention of the now infamous Pete Doherty causes conflict. Such media exposure could only be a good thing, surely?
Many all too readily assume the album is reflective of the chaotic, drug-ridden mess that is the life of Pete Doherty, without hearing a single note "Down in Albion" has to offer. Oddly, their assumptions are completely accurate. From the tale of a "nightmare steeped in tradition" in the disjointed "Le Belle et la Beté", to the sounds of Doherty tumbling over a studio stool on the soothing "Merry Go Round", the album is a mess.
That, however, is why we love it. The thunderous post Brit Pop anthem "F*ck Forever", and the grungy "Pipedown", along with the magnificent "Killamangiro" are the albums most rocky moments. Clash legend Mick Jones' production throughout borders between genius and lunacy. The album, like their live shows, feels like it could implode into anarchical chaos at any moment but never quite does (coming close, only to be rescued by the beautiful "Albion")
"Albion" is romantic journey to Doherty's much-loved native land; 'Albion', calling on medieval imagery along side poetic depictions of Britain today. The Mick Jones/ Clash influence throughout is undeniable. From lyrical references "I can't tell between death and glory", to the reggae number "Pentonville" and ska-influenced "Sticks & Stones", "Down in Albion" challenges to be Doherty's "London Calling".
"Down in Albion" unfortunately is not "London Calling". "London Calling" was the most ground breaking record to emerge directly from the punk movement; Babyshambles effort is far from this. Despite this "Down in Albion" is a much welcomed breath of fresh air in a world of overproduced 'indie' bands that seem further removed from the spirit of punk than stadium rock. The album unfortunately is composed largely old material; the newer version of "Killamangiro" paling in comparison to the original.
One may begin to question whether Doherty as a writer has burnt out, with largely the absence of such poetry that has become expected of the man. Only time will tell, but for now this remains a strong and thoroughly entertaining collection of songs, that is well worth your tenner.
on 15 November 2005
I guess you all know babyshambles, or what they are really famous for... Peter Doherty.
If your not a fan of Pete's massively documented personal life, which lets face it, he's mainly famous for, then i still think you should listen to this before you judge. Theres a talent here that just cant be ignored.
Back In Albion is a fantastic album that on first listen has the ability to decieve. When i first heard this, i would have rated it 'distinctly average'... that just simply isnt the case! This album is very personal and many of the songs can be related to experiences in Pete's life that many fans will be aware of. This ranges from his relationship with Kate Moss, and his drug addiction, to his troubled relationship with ex bandmate from the Libertines Carl Barratt.
The music is fantastic, and it will have you reminiscing back to the joyous days you first heard the Libertines. Its refreshing in the fact that many of the songs that you have heard in the various babyshambles sessions arnt on this CD, its all new material and is a pleasure to hear. Even the tracks we all know have been re-recorded live to present an element of rawness that will have you singing and bobbing your head in no time. If i had to name the best songs, which i dont really want to, the first would have to be 'La Belle Et La Bete' which contain Kate's vocals, which are a very pleasant surprise. The second is Albion, which is just fantastic, the lyrics are some of the best ever written by Pete.
If you were a fan of the Libs, you'll fall in love with this. This is a must have album.
on 22 May 2008
I was for some reason put of buying this album because of all the negative reviews i read on it. However due to being an avid 'libertines' and "Babyshambles" fan i decided to buy it anyway after having played all of the other albums to death and i am so glad i did. True its not perfect but thats all part of the charm, its rough, edgy and real, a quality which is hard to find in lots of modern music.
on 24 February 2006
After reading several somewhat bias reviews, clearly written by people who dislike a certain Pete Doherty I felt I may need to write one: Before purchasing the album, I had only listened to the single versions of 'Killamangiro' and 'Fuck Forever' which I found average after enjoying The Libertines. On first listen to the album I noticed the singles 'Killamangiro'and 'Fuck Forever' had been drastically improved, and are certainly worth a listen. Other standout tracks include 'A'rebours'and latest single '32nd Of December'; the album also includes the beautiful 'Albion'. It took me around 7 throurough listens before I could appreciate its genuine quality. This stuff is original, inventive, and Doherty seems to have been wrongly shot down for trying something new. This is certainly an album that deserves a couple of listens, after all it took me many listens to realise I wasnt disapointed at all, and now cannot take it out of my C.D player. Buy this album, you will not be disapointed.
on 8 May 2006
I believe Down in Albion is a classic. I think where some people lose the album is because it's rough round the edges. But, rather than this being a fault, I feel it gives it an honesty that you don't find in your average studio offering.
To the songs, 'F#ck Forever' is simply one of the best tracks I've heard...ever. 'A'rebours', 'Kilamangiro', 'Pipedown' and 'La belle et la bete' are up there too - not forgetting some of the slower ditties like 'In love with a feeling'.
Unlike Carl Barat with Dirty Pretty Things, I think Mr D. has taken a different track to the old Libertines style. In part at least, this has to be thanks to Patrick Walden's guitar work, which is certainly off-the-wall at times.
So, that said...now's the time to take responsibility for your own music taste. If you're not too 'afraid' of drawling lyrics and a raw sound, you really should try this out. I truly think that you might just be missing out if you don't.
Though, of course that's just my opinion.